Renfrewshire Council

Diane Gillies

Our Head of Facilities Management, Diane Gillies, looks back on the Council's response to the Covid-19 pandemic through the lens of Our Values. #WorldValuesDay

Diane's blog

My Facilities Management teams have been at the forefront for Renfrewshire Council since the very start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. 

The values that the council developed in conjunction with staff, residents and partners, prior to the pandemic, have really shone through when delivering much needed services during this crisis in very difficult circumstances.

What has been demonstrated really clearly for me is the 'We are Helpful' value. The teams really cared about how they could provide services to those in need and did everything they could to help residents as well as one another.

The relationships between staff right across the council was superb. At the very start of the pandemic we had to set up food distribution centres to deliver humanitarian food packages to those who were shielding and vulnerable. This was an entirely new service and we had to  carefully consider and develop what was needed for our residents. Teams who normally worked 'on the tools' were picking up food deliveries and packaging food parcels; catering staff who normally provided meals in school kitchens were involved in developing menus to deal with special dietary requirements; and administrative staff got into vans and delivered food parcels throughout Renfrewshire. There was no demarcation of their previous jobs titles or grades, they just mucked in and worked whatever days or hours that were needed. It was a wonderful testament to Our Values and I'm so proud to have been part of that.

What Surprised Me Most?
Probably what surprised me most was the resilience of our staff.  From the minute lockdown started, they worked whatever hours were needed, seven days a week. While I was conscious that they needed some down time, their commitment was such that they wanted to work through to find solutions for the people of Renfrewshire. 

The food distribution centre set up in Castlehead High School was operating round the clock. Parcels were being packaged and food was being made fresh for those people shielding and vulnerable in Renfrewshire. Demand increased so quickly that within weeks we expanded further site within Park Mains High and then another in Gleniffer High School - effectively doubling our service delivery. Teams were deployed from other areas in facilities management, from our building services, and from our transport and business support teams to fulfil whichever task was needed. Some colleagues arrived to help package food parcels as volunteers after they had finished their day's work.

From March until the end of July, the food distribution centres delivered packages to more than 2,500 households across Renfrewshire and created more than 500,000 food parcels.  This exceeded what we ever thought possible at the start of the pandemic.
Staff responded to emergency call outs in evenings and at weekends from families who could not leave the house and had no food. 
The teams received so many 'thank yous' from those who received the parcels and wanted to let the staff know what a difference it made to them.

There are also the stories of individual commitment and resilience that often goes unseen, behind the scenes, but without this level of commitment, these vital services could not be delivered.

These situations are what makes me very proud to be part of Renfrewshire Council's family, working with dedicated and committed staff who are doing such a good job for the people of Renfrewshire.