Never has the phrase’ we’re all in this together’ been truer than it is now.
It’s times like these that bring out the best in people and makes our resilience shine through.
We rightly continue to applaud our frontline colleagues in the NHS for the amazing work they’re doing saving lives, but the cogs of Local Government must continue to turn to keep the country going and to help us all return to normal, whatever that new normal may be, as quickly as possible when we emerge from the global Covid-19 pandemic.
I know that staff from every Local Authority in Scotland are going above and beyond their normal duties to ensure that our councils rise to the challenge to help our communities, citizens and businesses get through this extremely difficult time and, importantly, continue to deliver the lifeline services we all need. I myself have had take on an increased role as Depute Chief Executive for the Covid-19 period which presents new challenges.
The Leader of our Council, Elaine Murray has also had to adapt, as have all our Members: no longer meeting with constituents personally, dealing with the current increased workload, whilst still carrying out regular day duties from home.
This has happened at an unprecedented pace: from the first day of lockdown our staff have stepped up to the mark, pulled together and had a ‘let’s get this done’ attitude. We’ve recognised need and focussed our priorities quickly – protecting our most vulnerable, putting public safety first and sustaining the local economy.
Our staff have set up helplines, provided invaluable public information and worked quickly to re-priorities services to ensure that we can respond to people’s needs. New teams have been formed where workstreams have emerged, and everyone has adapted quickly, recognised what was expected of them and what was needed by our public.
Those with transferrable skills have offered to work in new environments, for instance, some of our Environmental Health staff in Dumfries and Galloway are helping to ease the burden within our local NHS. Many staff have volunteered to be deployed to other services to ensure we can sustain the services and activities which must continue with once the current emergency is over.
People have really rolled up their sleeves, stepped out of their comfort zones and up to the mark, despite the effects it must have on their work/life balance, working additional hours and over weekends when they see it’s required. The next challenge is to sustain this response and refocus on our re-start and recovery. Some things will never be the same again.
No one asks for thanks. Most will say they are ‘just doing their job’, but I can’t say how proud I am of all our local government workers, Social Workers, Waste Collectors, Admin staff, Cleaners, Teachers and school staff, Trading Standards, Economic Development, Libraries and Registration, Communications, and everyone else – those at the forefront and all those behind the scenes.
Thanks to one and all.