Renfrewshire Council

Staff Weekly News - 19 June 2020


In this week's staff news:



Download the latest staff weekly news

This page is a text only version of the newsletter. To view this as a PDF please click on the link:  Staff weekly news - 19 June 2020 [2MB]



A message from our  Chief Executive, Sandra Black

Yesterday the Scottish Government announced details of the move into the second phase of the four-part route map out  of lockdown and with that, the further easing of restrictions over the next few weeks with more individual freedoms to  be restored and more businesses and services able to open  and operate again.

This means that many people who have been in isolation through this crisis due to Shielding will now be able to  exercise outdoors and reconnect with family or friends if hygiene measures and physical distancing are carefully followed. For others, it will mean being able to meet with  two other households at a time outdoors and for single  parent families or those living alone, being able to create  an extended household with another family or friend.  You can read more about the guidance and what this might mean for your circumstances here.

I hope these small changes ensure that all of you can spend time with family and friends this weekend. Read Sandra's message in full here


Latest information  and advice—we've  got you covered


This has been a significant week as we take another step along the route towards easing lockdown restrictions. For everything you need to know about the latest guidance, have a read of our Phase 2 Focus feature which can be found on page 2.

There have been some key changes to the guidelines around Shielding, bringing more freedoms for those who have been unable to leave their homes for the past couple of months.

This is a significant step for those following Shielding guidelines as many will be reunited with loved ones and take some much needed exercise in the fresh air. However, it's essential that those who are shielding continue to maintain the 2 metre physical distancing rule at all times and do not have any visitors inside their homes.

To keep up to speed with all the latest on shielding guidelines go here.


Phase 2 Focus -

Stay safe, protect others, save lives


On Thursday 18 June, the First Minister announced the move to Phase 2 of our route to recovery. This is the second of four phases set out by the Scottish Government, detailing the gradual easing of restrictions over the coming weeks as we transition out of lockdown. 


What's changing?


From Friday 19 June:

•  People who are shielding can leave their homes to exercise, take part in non-contact activities such as fishing and golf and meet one other household outdoors as long as physical distancing is maintained

•  Those who are not shielding can meet up to two households at a time outdoors with a maximum of 8 people

•  Single adults, including single parents with children under 18 - can form an 'extended household group' with one other household and meet them indoors


From Monday 22 June:

•  Mandatory face coverings on public transport, including taxis, private hire vehicles and at train stations and airports

•  Dental practices can reopen to see patients with urgent care needs

•  Places of worship can reopen for individual prayer or contemplation

•  Construction sector can implement remaining phases of sectoral plan

•  College and university staff can return to make essential preparations for restart in Phase 3


From Monday 29 June:

•  Non-essential, non-office workplaces like factories and workshops can prepare to re-open

•  Retail outlets of all sizes with outdoor entrances and exits can begin to reopen

•  Outdoor markets can re-open once guidance  is implemented

•  Relaxation on restrictions on housing moves

•  Outdoor sports courts, playparks and other outdoor attractions can re-open for local access only


What stays the same?


• Physical distancing at two metres

• Frequent handwashing and hygiene measures

• Maintain cough etiquette and recommended face coverings in enclosed public spaces

• The maximum individuals allowed in any group meeting remains at 8

• Sit-in restaurants, pubs and indoor retail outlets remain closed for now


What does this mean for me?


At work:

If you are working from home, this is set to continue for the foreseeable future. Public transport will operate increased services  to assist travel to work. However, capacity remains significantly limited to allow for physical distancing and from Monday 22 June, face coverings are mandatory at all times. 

Public services that recommenced during Phase 1 can now be scaled up over the coming weeks where it is safe to do so. This will impact a variety of teams across the council, for example, where work is linked to court and tribunal buildings; social work; children's hearings; social care and care home services and registry services.


At home:

If you are the only adult in your home or a single parent with children under 18, you can create an 'extended household group'. This means you can choose one other household, that does not include someone who is shielding, to visit indoors.

For everyone else, up to two households can now meet outside only and the maximum figure of 8 individuals in a group meeting remains the same.

From Monday 22nd June you can see a dentist if you have urgent care needs and places of worship can reopen to allow access for private prayer and contemplation.

From Monday 29th June, outdoor markets and retail units of all sizes with outdoor entrances and exits  and can reopen giving you more options for shopping. 
However, indoor shopping centres will remain  closed for now except for essential units such  as supermarkets and chemists. It is still not deemed to be safe to reopen pubs and restaurants even where there is an outdoor space. This will be reviewed in line with public health guidance in the coming weeks and may change before the introduction of Phase 3.

From Monday 29th June, you will be able to take  your children to playparks and some outdoor attractions such as zoos as they begin to reopen. But it is still recommended you stay within your local area, travelling no further than 5 miles to  visit an attraction. Any tickets must be purchased in advance online.


For more information around specific changes in Phase 2, look at the Scottish Government's official update document by following this link.


Health, Safety and Wellbeing at work and at home

Maintaining a healthy body and mind is always essential, particularly now as we continue to adapt to the changing circumstances around us. Our Health, Safety and Wellbeing at work page is there to help whether you are on the front line or working from home.

But perhaps what you really need, is some time off! Many of us have had holiday plans and trips cancelled or postponed this year and we know that's disappointing, but please don't let that stop you from taking some well-deserved down time over the summer. We all need a break to focus on spending time with our loved ones, our favourite hobbies or just relaxing! Whatever you choose to do with your time off, it's essential that you make sure you get a break.

For those of us shielding, there may be some anxieties around taking that first step outside after being at home for such a long time. If you are worried about your safety or the risk of exposing yourself to Coronavirus, please be assured, the Scottish Government would not relax its guidance around going outdoors unless it was safe to do so. For anyone who would like more advice and support visit the Clear Your Head website which offers practical tips on keeping safe, getting exercise and staying calm.

Don't forget our employee counselling service is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Professional counsellors are on hand to provide you with free, confidential support via telephone and digital channels such as Skype. Visit their webpage for more information or call 0800 970 3980 for free support now.


Class of 2020

As some of the children preparing to transition into P1 and S1 visit their schools and nurseries this week, we wanted to give a massive shout out to all the staff involved with preparing the buildings to ensure they were clean and safe for our kids.

Thanks to the huge efforts of our teaching and schools staff and teams from across the council, some of the children starting P1 and S1 in August are getting the chance to go back to their nursery or school before  the summer break for a final farewell.

This was no small operation. Schools and nurseries  have been cleaned and decluttered and new procedures are now in place to allow physical distancing and hygiene measures to be followed by staff and pupils  at all times. Well done to everyone involved.  You have done a spectacular job!

We also want to say a massive well done to our class of 2020 who have had a tough end to the school year. If your child is among the class of 2020, please send us your stories!

We can't wait to hear how the nursery and school visits go and we'll be sure to share some insights in next week's newsletter. 


Introducing Our Values


We are fair, we treat each other and everyone we deal with respectfully and work hard to build trust in Renfrewshire Council.

We are helpful, we care about getting things right and are always approachable. 

We are great collaborators; we work as  one team and with people who care about  this place.

We value learning to help us innovate, improve and deliver better services. 


This week we launched Our Values with a film featuring lots of familiar faces and local residents.

It's a key milestone in the journey we started last year with a conversation with our staff and communities to develop the values that support  the kind of organisation we all want Renfrewshire Council to be. The response was brilliant.

More than 4,000 voices helped identify the values most important to us all that describe our promise to our communities, staff and partners, and what people can expect of us. 

Our values are for everyone working here at Renfrewshire Council, no matter what your role. To help and support you to live them every day, we will:

•  Review all of our people policies so that our values are a part of your working life throughout your journey with the council  

•  Work with managers and leaders to develop role model behaviours, with key objectives to help you enable your teams to live the values
•  Provide you with a range of resources and support to help you link our values to your own role every single day  

•  Help you develop a values action plan around working with each other, making decisions and interacting with customers and service-users

•  Make decisions and manage our people according  to these values and challenge and be prepared to  be challenged when behaviours don't match them

•  Recognise, celebrate and share the stories of our people living the values

•  Ensure you have lots of opportunities to see, hear and experience our shared values

Our Values webpage is the go-to place for all the information on Our Values. This page will develop over time as we start to roll out training and hear more from you on how you're living these values every day. Read the Living Our Values guide and look out for our case studies and examples of our values in action. Expect videos, stories, training plans and our commitment to making these values the thread of our organisation.


Bridging the gap—the missing link between home and school

We all know how circumstances at home and in our personal lives can impact on our mental health and our ability to give our best performance at work.  So, how could we ever expect our children to get the most out of their education when things aren't quite right at home or elsewhere?

Taking a holistic approach to supporting young people in their education by reducing the social and emotional difficulties faced by many is the mission of our Home Link service. They frequently take on new challenges and will help service users in any way they can including providing a wide range of individual and group wellbeing programmes.

Supporting the link between home and education has never been more essential and the commitment of our Home Link staff during recent months has been amazing. Over 700 local families including almost 1,000 children have been helped by the service since the beginning of the crisis.

Through working with staff across Renfrewshire schools from the onset of the pandemic, the team identified the children who would need the most support and set up processes for keeping in regular contact. 

Senior Home Link Worker, Morag McGuire said, 'Because we understand the anxiety and additional pressures experienced by families in lockdown, we have been persistent in our efforts to keep in touch'. Home Link Worker, Elaine Scally said, 'The lockdown has increased the pressures and conflict within some families, so I've spent a lot of time helping families to communicate better and to understand each other's feelings and needs. I've also worked closely with our Social Work teams to help families experiencing domestic violence access support and find safety.'

In some cases, it was necessary to go the extra mile to ensure the safety of local children. Elaine said, 'I'm glad we could collaborate with our Health and Safety Team during this crisis. It meant we could complete a risk assessment which enabled me to visit the few families I was particularly concerned about.'

Home Link Assistant, Susanne McNeil, identified children who were unable to access online learning because they had no internet or computer device available at home. She said, 'Once we got devices delivered to the pupils, I talked them through how to get online and helped them with their schoolwork. But supporting children and families with new technology from a distance is not an ideal solution and some pupils struggled. So, we were able to negotiate a space in one of the childcare hubs so that I could meet with those pupils and help them directly'.

Developing online transition workshops for pupils due to move onto secondary school this year was another key priority. Home Link Worker, Linda Bell, said 'We usually deliver transition workshops directly to P7 classes, so we had to work with our primary schools and transition teachers to come up with new ways to do this online'.

Looking ahead, the Home Link Branching Out Team have been working on ways to help combat the longterm impact of the Coronavirus on local children. Through working alongside Educational Psychology experts and Seasons for Growth - a well-established programme that promotes wellbeing in children and young people - the team have developed special seminars for teachers and children in Primary 5 and above to help them understand and deal with any loss, changes or grief they may have experienced  due to Covid-19.

Home Link Worker, Linda Brewster is grateful for all the support she's received during this difficult time from both her colleagues and the families she works with. She said, 'As a team we check in with each other every morning and even have the occasional Skype coffee break together. But the appreciation and reciprocal care I've received from families has been what has made all our work during this time  so worthwhile.'

One parent said, 'You seem to be checking in on everyone else making sure they are OK, so I really hope you are OK!'                        

Another stated, 'You have no idea what a difference your support has made to me and my children. I was really struggling until you organised food supplies and a crisis grant. I had no idea where to ask for help.'

And it's not just parents who have been in touch to express their gratitude. An S3 pupil contacted the team to say, 'Speaking with you whenever I need help has been great. You know how anxious I get and always need you to talk through things, Thank you'.


Staff Thanks and Social Shout Outs

Thanks to staff are pouring in from all directions and we've received some more fantastic feedback this week on our  social media channels. Just goes to show all your hard work  is recognised and appreciated. Here are just a few of the comments we have received so far...


"@TodholmPs @PATHSEdUK @Katrinamcgov Congratulations @TodholmPs @RenCouncil must be setting a record for @PATHSEdUK model schools real commitment from the whole school community to improving wellbeing outcomes for children" - Head of Childcare and Criminal Justice, Children's Services, John Trainer via Twitter...


"My daughter loved todholm hub. Thanks for taking good care of her i appreciate all your help 珞" - Soph Mul via Facebook


"Many thanks for this. Greatly appreciated" - Carole Stevenson via Facebook after receiving a response to her query about grass-cutting


"Thank you for the quick reply and that's great news!" - Megan Marshall via Twitter after receiving a prompt reply to her query about Household Waste Recycling Centres


"Attend Johnstone today and the staff were cheerful and helpful. Well done guys " - replying to a Facebook post about Household Waste Recycling Centres


"@RenCouncil Should have done a special mention to @kirklandneukps they have been fab! And seeing the other schools on social media doing their best is great. They will defo need their holidays!" and "@RenCouncil just wanted to say what a great job the Headteachers and their teams are doing organising the school for the kids returning in August not forgetting the facilities staff. It must be quiet a task! Its not lost on us parents. Thank you. #KeepingKidsSafeC19" - Tracey Lundie via Twitter


"❤️ Loved working with the P7's from Bridge of Weir Primary in @RenCouncil. They, like so many other young people, have not had the chance to properly finish their primary school journey. Wishing them and all P7's the best of luck as you move on to a new adventure! @RenCouncilNews" - Louisa via Twitter


"Well done to renfrewshire council on the way they have done the dump at paisley. I'm really impressed. Social distancing and well thought out. Hassle free dumping of my rubbish. In and out with no ques" - Joanne Green via Facebook



Share your stories and photos

Don't forget we'd love to hear from you! It could be a photo of you working from home, something interesting from your daily walk, or a photo of your new "colleagues" (furry friends most welcome!). Have you started volunteering or taking on new roles and responsibilities you never thought you would? Tell us all about it and we can share your stories. Send them in to