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Wiltshire Council employees redeployed to key roles in COVID-19 response effort

Wiltshire Council has mobilised its workforce to focus on the county's response to COVID-19 while some services are temporarily stopped or reduced.

Published 24 April 2020

The unique skillsets and experience of staff were captured in a workforce survey to give the council a holistic view of resource available across the organisation.

Staff have now been redeployed to support critical services, such as assessing business grants and welfare applications, the new Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub or partner organisations involved in the COVID-19 response. They are committed to helping the council in whatever way they can, finding innovative solutions and collaborating across the organisation and wider public sector to support our residents and deliver essential services. Alongside this most business as normal services continue to be delivered.

Many staff are now working on a seven day working pattern to ensure support is in place for those who are the most vulnerable in our communities, and to support businesses. This includes staff from across many council services who have been redeployed to deliver food and essentials and to take calls and contact the most vulnerable in our wellbeing hub, including from our libraries and leisure services, and many others who have also volunteered in their own time to contact and support our most vulnerable residents prior to the redeployment process being completed.

So far:

  • 75 staff volunteers from across the council making calls to our most vulnerable residents from 27 March - 9 April including over the weekends whilst staff were identified for formal redeployment to the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub. During this period volunteers received 566 calls, phoned 2466 people and 4716 letters were sent out
  • 81 staff currently redeployed to the wellbeing hub, working on a 7 day rota. At its peak 122 staff were deployed. Through the hub 732 food parcels have been delivered, 8687 people have been contacted and the hub has received 2428 calls and 599 emails.
  • Over 80 staff redeployed to assess business grant applications and help get vital funds to Wiltshire businesses. To date they have provided advice to over 1,100 businesses, and issued over £50m in grants supporting over 4,300 businesses.
  • 128 leisure and libraries staff redeployed to provide support in the community, including delivery of food and other essentials
  • Fitness consultants recording workout videos and helping people keep fit online.
  • 38 staff redeployed to provide additional capacity in critical services where demand has increased such as Revenue and Benefits who handle welfare payments
  • 7 day rota now in place for all reablement staff including occupational therapists, reablement workers and care support staff. This rota has been agreed with acute hospitals to support seven-day hospital discharge arrangements.
  • Members of staff with relevant experience from services across the council including Pest Control, HR and Communications have come together to form a team of logistics drivers
  • Three leisure centre duty managers redeployed to work in care
  • 10 coaching staff who are also trained in First Aid made available to support schools to deliver PE sessions
  • Leisure PPE donated to Adult Social Care and Salisbury Hospital
  • Food from leisure centre vending machines donated to local food banks
  • Rhyme Time sessions hosted live on Facebook and received a great response with over 12,000 worldwide views from as far as Australia
  • Staff compiling information for vulnerable residents on supermarket deliveries
  • Staff surveying community groups and the support they can offer to vulnerable people in their area

The total number of staff redeployed so far is approx. 375

Craig is an employee who has been redeployed as part of the council's response. Craig's day job is a Pest Control Officer, dealing with nuisance critters and helping businesses defend against infestations. Whilst work is this area is reduced, Craig has been delivering essential supplies to the most vulnerable as part of our Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub. Craig is now part of our team of logistics drivers that can help enable the council's response across the organisation.

He said: "I've really enjoyed being part of the response to COVID-19.

"Everyone from around the organisation is pulling together and the team spirit and knowing you are making a difference at such a difficult time for people really drives you forward." 

Wiltshire Council's Joint Chief Executive Officers, Alistair Cunningham and Terence Herbert, said: "We are really pleased with the speed at which we have refocused our efforts to support our communities and protect the most vulnerable during this time whilst also continuing to deliver business as normal services.

"As we respond to COVID-19 it is so heartening to see the dedication and ingenuity of our staff. Many are delivering frontline services in difficult circumstances, excelling in completely new roles or volunteering their own time to go the extra mile for our vulnerable residents. This is a challenging time for all of us and we can't thank them enough."

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Published 24 April 2020