Front line services provided by the Borough Council are to be supplemented by additional staff.

Employees – who are in a position to contribute to the Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council emergency coronavirus response in a more positive and productive way – are offering to support other departments, which are playing an essential role in these extreme circumstances.

More than 20 members of staff, who work in areas such as leisure, property and markets, have agreed to carry out alternative work such as manning the COVID-19 vulnerable person helpline (01782 742800) seven days a week, collecting recycling and waste and processing applications for business support grants.

The Council is encouraging employees to transfer their valuable skills, with appropriate training, in order to maintain core public services. For example, recycling and waste collection is vital for public health – for this reason operatives are classed as key workers but approximately 25 per cent of the team are currently self-isolating. These services have been able to run as normally as possible up until now, with some minor changes and back-up support from Streetscene operatives.

Meanwhile, in addition to their normal duties the partnerships team is working with other organisations, charities, groups and volunteers to develop vulnerability hubs which are designed to help the borough’s most vulnerable residents, including elderly people and those with serious health conditions, by providing help with personal care, supplies such as food and medicine, access to support groups and even walking the dog.

Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “The Council is working extremely hard to help residents and businesses during this exceptional situation. This has meant adapting our normal working practices very quickly with the aim of maintaining statutory services as far as possible while introducing new areas of work such as setting up and helping to run the vulnerability hubs and co-ordinating financial help for hundreds of businesses. Many of our dedicated staff are still able to keep important functions running, such as revenues and benefits, as their role allows them to work from home but it’s people like leisure staff who physically can’t do this – as Jubilee2 is currently closed – that are coming
forward to use their skills in a different way. This means certain services, which are experiencing exceptionally high demand at the moment, have the support available when they need it most. This is very much appreciated and shows how committed our workforce is. It’s very heartening to see.”

Coronavirus information pages have been set up on the Council’s website to provide residents and businesses with news, service updates and details about the practical support available. These can be accessed from the homepage at www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk .

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