Wokingham Borough Council redeploys staff to increase community support during Covid-19
Wokingham Borough Council has redeployed several officers into community and critical roles, in a bid to ensure the health and wellbeing of residents during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Following the Government’s announcement to close leisure centres, libraries and schools, many workers have been unable to carry out their normal day-to-day roles. The council has worked with employees to identify their key skills, moving them into positions to support services facing additional pressure due to the current pandemic.
“It’s been fantastic to see staff adapt so quickly to our communities changing needs. I could not be more proud of how the officers have reacted to this unprecedented emergency. Many of our officers have stepped into new roles including essential support services for our most vulnerable residents.” said John Halsall, leader of Wokingham Borough Council.
“Our number-one priority is to help guide local people through, what is undoubtedly, an incredibly difficult time. It is heart-warming to see council employees working alongside many community and voluntary groups in a combined effort to support residents across the borough.”
One member of staff who has put her existing skill set to good use is business change specialist, Helen Brown. She said “I have been involved in mapping customer journeys for the Citizens Advice helpline and hub food distribution, helping to get all the right people together to move the community hub to a bigger location in less than a day.”
She added: “Being redeployed has shown me that we have the best community and voluntary sector. Their commitment and dedication is outstanding. It has been a real honour to work alongside these people and their organisations. They never stop!”
Several officers have made the move to Citizens Advice Wokingham, including project manager, Michael Bateman: “I’ve been answering telephone calls and, as expected, there are many from residents whose lives have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We are therefore providing a lot of advice and support with queries around food parcel deliveries, collection of prescription medication, employment issues and tenancy disputes.”
“I am very happy that I’ve been able to provide some level of support to people in what has been a difficult period of late. It has been extremely gratifying to see how all the various organisations and community groups in the borough have pulled together to help those who are in need!”
Council officers have also played a pivotal role in running and re-locating the Wokingham Borough Community Response hub. Beverley Thompson, sports and leisure manager, said: “I’ve taken over responsibility for St Crispin’s Leisure Centre from our leisure contractor Places Leisure, alongside Emma Cantrell from the children’s charity First Days, so that we could move the community hub from St Paul’s Parish Rooms. We’ve been opening and closing the hub every day, and we even took delivery of more than 200 Easter eggs, which will go in the food parcels.”
Wokingham Borough Council continues with all its essential services including waste collections and emergency road repairs.