Renfrewshire Council

Staff Newsletter - March 2021

Welcome to our March newsletter, bringing you all the latest updates and stories from our people across the Council. In each issue we introduce the newsletter with a message from a different staff member. This time, we hear from our Director of Environment and Infrastructure (E&I), Gordon McNeil.

In this issue:

A message from our Director of Environment and Infrastructure (E&I), Gordon McNeil
Council Budget announcement
Back to school and nursery... and loving it!
Helping Stop the Spread - Vaccinations and community testing
Update on the easing of lockdown restrictions
Building a brighter future
Picking up The Thread - our new digital experience
Our events are going online this Spring and Summer
Taking care of our wellbeing
Supporting your development because we value learning
Leading our values training for managers
Thank you to our teams who have kept Renfrewshire moving all winter
Connecting residents to services online
Happy retirement Joan!
Social Shout Outs
Share your stories and photos

Open the  PDF here [1MB] to download the full newsletter


 

A message from our Director of Environment and Infrastructure (E&I), Gordon McNeil

As we continue to make progress in the fight against coronavirus and we look ahead to the easing of restrictions over the coming months, this is an important time for all of us, and the work we're doing as a council to support Renfrewshire's recovery.

The council budget was approved by councillors earlier this month. This will play a crucial part in supporting our recovery and you can read everything you need to know further on in this newsletter.

From supporting our communities through the continuation of council services to the operation of testing and vaccination centres, to how we help look after those with health and social care needs and have supported the return to learning in our nurseries and schools to name only a few examples, your outstanding work does not go unnoticed. Great credit must go to every staff member—you have all played a role in this immense effort whether that's been on the frontline or from home.

Our core values continue to shine through everything you do; collaboration in the way we work together across the council and with our partners, your commitment to being helpful and doing the best you can for those who rely on our services, fair in how we all seek to carry our share of the load and as always we continue to value learning as we evolve and adapt to new ways of working.

Our frontline teams have been superb in keeping Renfrewshire running throughout the winter months while continuing to cope with the additional challenges brought about by the pandemic. You can read more about that and the incredible efforts of those working across the testing and vaccination centres later in this newsletter.

As restrictions ease in the months ahead, health and safety controls across all our locations, sites and services will remain in place to help ensure we continue to put safety first, both for our residents and for you.

This includes the piloting of staff testing which has seen the successful implementation of regular at home testing of school staff and testing for those working in care settings. Additionally, staff working at our Underwood Road Depot and Renfrewshire House have also had the opportunity to take part in a short testing programme using at home PCR tests.

Hope is in sight, but we must keep going by continuing to follow the guidelines. Remember to always stick to the FACTS, get vaccinated when invited, take the time to care for your wellbeing and most importantly stay safe.


Council Budget announcement— Supporting recovery and wellbeing for our people and communities throughout 2021-2022

Earlier this month our budget for 2021-2022, prioritising recovery and supporting the people of Renfrewshire was agreed by councillors.

Wellbeing and mental health are at the heart of the £449.8million budget with targeted support for those communities most affected by Covid-19.

The budget will deliver a Council Tax freeze, providing people with some certainty in a time when the pandemic has brought great uncertainty and challenge.

The budget maintains the Council's financial stability while continuing to support inclusive economic growth in local communities and helps our most vulnerable people.

Our ongoing £443.5million capital investment will continue to create jobs, boost growth, enable town centre recovery and improve our digital connectivity, roads and paths.

Investments to council play areas and improved walking routes at Clyde Muirshiel and Gleniffer Braes will enable people to make the most of our outdoor spaces. Our commitment to providing pupils with the best possible learning environments continues with an additional £750,000 funding for school facility improvements, enabling a £2.4million two-year investment by the end of March 2022.

£2.7million will help tackle inequalities and support people in our communities most affected by the pandemic, adding to our pioneering work tackling poverty and changing the lives of people impacted by alcohol and drug use.

This funding will be targeted over the coming months, developed with communities on what matters most to them, with immediate priority investments including £100,000 for Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau to provide employment and redundancy rights advice, the creation of a specialist team advocating for vulnerable private sector tenants and a £100,000 boost to the fund helping people with housing costs.

This will provide £250,000 more support for children and young people's mental health, £180,000 for care experienced young people and £200,000 for the rollout of a book gifting programme for all 2 to 5-year-old children in Renfrewshire.

he Council and Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) will receive £2.3million of additional recurring resources to protect and enhance adult social care services and support the HSCP to secure the Living Wage for all care staff helping Renfrewshire residents.

And further schemes will support licensed premises and encourage hot food shops to switch to biodegradable packaging businesses, building on the many business supports in place throughout the pandemic.

Full details of the budget can be found on the budget webpage.


Back to school and nursery.... and loving it!

Our youngest children have now returned to nursery and primary school, so we thought we'd hear from some of our staff about how that's going and what they are learning.

Rebuilding relationships

Staff are focusing on children rebuilding relationships and making friends, says Moira Hope who works at West Johnstone Early Learning and Childcare Centre as a senior early learning and childcare officer.

"With the return of all children to our nursery, we are nurturing, encouraging and inspiring our early learners to be curious and explore the world around them. We are rebuilding relationships and supporting children to form friendships with their peers.

"Early learning experiences are very important. By the time a child is three years old 80% of their brain has developed. The experiences at nursery help to form synapses in their brains that enable children to begin to make sense of the world.

"Children are encouraged to explore and to be curious using open-ended play resources, such as sand, building blocks and water, and inspire children to be creative and use their imagination. The nursery environment follows children's interests and staff help to build and deepen children's knowledge."

Children have also adapted well to the pandemic, said Mary McAllister who also works at West Johnstone.

Mary said, "When we came back after the first lockdown, we talked to children on the importance of hygiene and the coronavirus. When we had to go into separate bubbles, children were consulted with and given ownership of their bubble. They got to choose the name for their rooms and this helped the children understand why they could not play with all their friends at nursery"

Wellbeing and routines

Being back in school is better for children's wellbeing and their social and emotional development, say P1 class teachers Emma Hartley, Julie Kennedy and Leanne Reid who teach children at West Primary in Paisley.

Leanne said, "Now that our P1 children are back in school, we are focusing on their wellbeing above all else. We will support them to resume routines and responsibilities as well as assessing where they are in their learning, to ensure attainment and decide how best to move forward."

Emma added, "School helps children to develop their social interactions, learn to share, be independent, develop self-help skills, take responsibility for their own learning as well as work as a team, develop perseverance, resilience and live our values. These skills all help children as they grow as well as support their learning of literacy and numeracy skills."

Learning at school also ensures equity for all children. Julie said, "Children won't always have the same home environment, devices or space. While children were learning at home, we provided lessons and activities based on what we knew they could do at home. We are glad to have children back at school as it gives them a level playing field they need and allows them to learn from each other as they play and work with their peers."


Helping Stop the Spread —Vaccinations and Community Testing

Following the success of the Johnstone Town Hall asymptomatic testing centre in December, teams from across the council have been working with Scottish Government and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) in support of the national effort to suppress the virus and enable a return to normal.

This includes, but is not limited to, our work to support the roll-out of the national vaccination programme, the expansion of testing in our schools and other council buildings and targeted community testing for people who are not displaying symptoms in local areas and communities that are experiencing stubbornly high levels of the virus.

Thanks to everyone involved. These are yet more great examples of our values in action and teams from across the council coming together to support each other and deliver for communities across Renfrewshire.

School Testing

To further reduce the risk of COVID-19 and support the safe return of some pupils and staff last month, a significant expansion of testing in schools and nurseries was introduced, with all staff members and senior secondary school pupils offered voluntary at home testing twice a week.

The vast majority of teachers and school staff are taking part and we expect testing to be available for all our schools and nursery staff in the coming weeks.

Along with the other protective measures we have in place, Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) has been introduced to provide additional reassurance to parents and carers and all our schools and early years staff.

It doesn't mean we can stop following all the rules and guidelines which are in place to protect us all, but it will help us to identify asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) people in our schools and nurseries at the earliest possible opportunity.

If a positive LFT result is returned, this should be confirmed with the Head Teacher, and the person should self-isolate and arrange to go for a PCR test to confirm if they have COVID-19.

This is part of a wider expansion of regular, routine testing of those without symptoms which will also see testing made available to more of our staff in the future whether they have symptoms or not.

Here's what some of our Head Teachers think:

"The support and guidance from the team was excellent. The communication and support meant that the roll out of the programme was very successful and has helped to boost morale within the school, while also helping our staff to feel safer when returning to their workplace."

"The introduction of regular LFT tests has been welcomed by the staff. The process has been easy to manage and feedback from staff has been extremely positive."

And here's what our teachers and school staff have to say:

"The testing gives us a sense of relief and we feel safer for our families."

"It helps me feel safe and it helps us feel more normal." "It gives you some reassurance that you are taking a further step to protect your family and colleagues." "The process itself is very straightforward and easy to follow."

"We feel safe and it helps us feel more normal."

Vaccination Centres

The COVID-19 vaccination programme is the largest ever carried out in the UK and since they opened on Monday 1 February our three vaccination centres at the Lagoon in Paisley, Johnstone Town Hall and Renfrew Leisure Centre have safely welcomed more than 20,000 residents.

We are supporting NHS GGC with the local rollout of the programme and we're encouraging everyone to 'Roll up their Sleeves' when they receive their invitation. The vaccinations are being given out by the NHS, and Renfrewshire Council, Renfrewshire Leisure and Renfrewshire HSCP staff are providing support to manage the operation of the centres.

The uptake has been very high and the feedback from NHS teams working onsite and the wider NHS public health team has been really positive. As has the response from patients who have visited the sites with some of them taking to social media to praise the safety measures in place, the efficiency of their appointment and the friendliness and professionalism of our staff.

Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect you, your family and friends from the virus. The vaccine rollout will eventually allow the government to start lifting restrictions and getting life back to normal again, which we all want to see.

When you become eligible for an appointment the NHS will write to you directly with details of the location, date and time.

More information on the local centres is on our vaccination page and more info on the vaccine itself is available from the NHS Inform website.

What people have said:

"My dad was at the lagoon yesterday and he felt safe and protected and the staff were professional, friendly, and efficient"

"I'm a nurse working at the lagoon administering vaccinations. It's great to see the Council and NHS working together to fight this pandemic."

"Glad to see all the very positive remarks about the safety factors and the professionalism and friendliness of the staff."

"Was at Johnstone yesterday. Well run. Lovely staff. Thank you."

Underwood Road and Renfrewshire House

All staff working at Underwood Road and Renfrewshire House were recently invited to take part in a voluntary home testing programme.

The testing was introduced to provide an extra layer of protection to colleagues working at a council building or depot and to ensure we can continue to deliver essential services to the people and communities across Renfrewshire.

All participants received a consent form and two COVID-19 at home PCR testing kits containing a nasal/throat swab and instructions of how to carry out the test to see if they are infected with COVID-19.

Anyone who receives a positive result, must immediately self-isolate for 10 days and inform their line manager as soon as possible, who will advise of the range of support available, including the self-isolation support grant.

Gallowhill Mobile Testing Site

Our first community mobile testing site, for people who do not have symptoms, took place in Gallowhill in Paisley at the beginning of March.

The mobile testing unit (MTU), supported by the Scottish Ambulance Service, was introduced because Gallowhill has experienced particularly high rates of COVID-19 and we reached out to local residents, encouraging them to get a test to help protect themselves and the people around them.

It is hoped by targeting resources within communities where there is a high prevalence, then we will identify more cases of the virus, giving us a better chance of stopping it from spreading.

What people have said:

"Been today, very busy, plenty of people going in. Very well run. In and out in 10 minutes."

"Great and well done to everyone involved. On-site staff/volunteers were friendly and explained everything and it was really quiet. Test done in 10 mins and negative result returned the following morning. Couldn't ask for better!"


Update on the easing of lockdown restrictions

On Tuesday 16 March, the Scottish Government outlined its plan for easing of restrictions in Scotland with key dates throughout April and May. Due to the unpredictable nature of coronavirus, the First Minister (FM) explained it is still too early to give specific dates beyond May and that it is vital to allow enough time to assess their effects. However it is hoped that from the start of June, Scotland can move to Level 1 with a move to Level 0 at the end of the same month.

Ensuring we all continue to stick to the rules at every stage will be key to the success of the emergence from lockdown. The FM added that government will be prepared to pause the easing of restrictions if the data shows that the virus is spreading again and they will act decisively to reapply higher levels of restrictions to manage localised outbreaks should the need arise. This could be on a local or regional basis, depending on the nature of the outbreak. However, restrictions will not remain in place for any longer than necessary.

Key dates are as follows:

2 April

  • lifting the 'Stay at Home' requirement and replacing it with a 'Stay Local' message (local authority-based travel restrictions will remain in place for at least a three-week period)

5 April

  • the resumption of outdoor contact sport for 12-17-year olds
  • return of college students within the top three priority groups identified by Colleges Scotland
  • reopening of non-essential 'click and collect' retail
  • extending the list of retail permitted to include garden centres, electrical repair shops, shopbased hairdressers and barbers, homeware shops, and vehicle showrooms by appointment only

12-19 April, depending on term times

  • all children back to school full-time. In Renfrewshire this is after the school break on Monday 19 April.

26 April

  • up to six people from up to 3 households can meet outdoors
  • up to six 12-17 year olds, from up to 6 households can meet outdoors
  • travel within all of mainland Scotland permitted (subject to other restrictions that remain in place)
  • remaining shops can reopen and mobile close contact services can resume
  • gyms can reopen for individual exercise
  • tourist accommodation to reopen (self-catering accommodation to be restricted in line with rules on indoor gathering)
  • driving lessons to resume • weddings and funerals for up to 50 (including wakes and receptions with no alcohol permitted)
  • libraries, museums, galleries re-open
  • outdoor hospitality to open to 22:00 with alcohol permitted. Indoor hospitality permitted without alcohol and closing at 20:00
  • meeting in indoor public places for a maximum of 4 people from 2 households

17 May

  • in-home socialising for up to 4 people from up to 2 households
  • further re-opening of hospitality: bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 22:30 indoors and 22:00 outdoors with alcohol permitted and 2-hour time-limited slots
  • adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume
  • cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can re-open
  • small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints (to be confirmed)
  • colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning
  • more in-person (face-to-face) support services can resume
  • non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors

For full details visit the Scottish Government website.


Building a brighter future

From weaving shawls to building spitfire engines, Renfrewshire has a proud story to tell when it comes to manufacturing.

Now, the next chapter is being written as our City Deal and Infrastructure Team drive development of Scotland's manufacturing innovation district AMIDS.

AMIDS—shorthand for the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland - is a collaborative project, supported by Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, transforming a 52-hectare site next to Glasgow Airport into a centre for manufacturing research and development.

Steering its success from the ground up is a small staff group within the Chief Executive's service.

Through completion of the Glasgow Airport Investment Area project later this year, the underpinning infrastructure will improve connections into the central site known as Netherton Campus.

And plans are progressing to ensure the district is an attractive proposition for companies considering locating there, with a carbon reducing heating network, a central square and riverside green spaces creating a unique environment to foster innovation and collaboration.

"I really enjoy being part of the team working to ensure AMIDS delivers on its vision of becoming an exemplar innovation district which attracts lots of companies and helps create thousands of jobs," says Caitlin Martin, whose role has evolved since joining the City Deal team in 2016.

She added: "Working as part of the City Deal and Infrastructure team has afforded me the opportunity to grow from a Graduate Intern working across all the projects into a Project Officer, leading on projects like a connecting cycling route and on the utility connections needed to power the manufacturing district."

Already, the district—which encompasses the central campus and nearby Westway and Inchinnan Business Parks—has attracted £185million of investment, with construction started on both the flagship National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) and the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre. Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, has also touched down at Westway to take on its first research project in Scotland.

Key to attracting more manufacturers is connectivity, and this is being enhanced through another City Deal project at the Renfrew waterfront.

Project Manager Norman Yardley leads on delivery of the Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside, one of the largest civil en-gineering projects being undertaken in the Glasgow City Region.

The construction contract has just been awarded and work is set to start in Spring, as civil engineering specialists GRAHAM deliver an opening road bridge over the River Clyde, a connecting road into the manufacturing district and new riverside walking and cycling routes.

Norman joined the Council in 2014, having started his working life designing bridges for a company in Inverness before 20 years with development companies.

He said: "This project is a culmination of these experiences, where I get to be involved in a significant bridge build, a project spanning three council boundaries to improve the economic and social wellbeing of our local communities and increase development opportunities across this area.

"I very much enjoy the interaction with multiple stakeholders and trying to solve the many and varied challenges that come from large complex projects to ensure that all needs are balanced and the long-term goals are met."

Barbara Walker has recently been appointed the role of Programme Director for City Deal and Infrastructure. We asked her how she feels about taking a leading role in such a significant project and why she believes this will be a game changer for Renfrewshire and our people.

"Having been involved with AMIDS since its inception, I am really excited to now lead this exciting project on behalf of the Council as part of our Place agenda and in collaboration with our external partners.

"My role brings together the ambitious City Deal, AMIDS, Cultural Infrastructure and Town Centre Heritage programmes under one team providing exciting opportunities for everyone involved to develop and align these investments.

"Our core goal is to maximise the benefits these projects will undoubtedly bring to our local businesses and communities, ensuring Renfrewshire is an attractive place to live, work and play. The AMIDS project is key to realising this vision and will play a priority role in the post-covid economic recovery of Renfrewshire, Glasgow City Region and Scotland, attracting thousands of high-quality jobs to the area." 

For more information go to our City Deal info page and the Paisley Is website.


Picking up The Thread—Our new digital experience

These are fast-moving times. The global pandemic has accelerated trends in how we behave, how we access services and experiences and how we communicate.

There's been an increase in the use of the council's digital channels. In 2020, our main website— Renfrewshire.gov.uk - saw its number of users doubled from 2019, reaching 3.1 million visits by 1.5 million users.

As we spend ever-more time online connected to our digital devices, our 'digital experience' becomes ever-more influential.

It's a challenge for us all. The 'digital experience' of Renfrewshire Council must be as good as it can be. We also don't want to leave anyone behind— our online services and communications must be accessible and inclusive.

The Thread is a new 'digital experience' and communications guide designed to help you meet these challenges and keep you up to date with the future development of our digital channels.

What 'digital experience' means

Digital experience is the way we engage with our audiences over a variety of digital channels and touchpoints. Just think how many we already have —and how many we will have in the near future:

  • Websites and apps
  • Social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram
  • Digital communications channels such as emails, web notifications and chatbots
  • Voice device technology (Alexa, Siri) and wearable tech (smartwatches)
  • Online collaboration tools such as Teams, SharePoint and Yammer
  • Digital advertising - everything from digital signage to Google ads

We all expect a high-quality digital experience these days, with clear information and interfaces that are easy to navigate through. People bring the same high levels of expectation to their digital interactions with the council.

A 'digital experience' and communications guide for Renfrewshire Council

The Thread is our new online guide to all things 'digital experience' and communications.

Developed by our in-house Digital Experience team, it's simple to use but packed full of advice and support.

Is this for you? Yes! Digital experience impacts on everyone's job. If you understand and feel confident about developing a high-quality digital experience, you can make digital channels work effectively for you, and your users.

The Thread is designed to help you build your understanding.

You'll find lots of useful guidance on there - how to write for the web; how you make sure your online content is fully accessible - but also some signposts to advice and support from specialist teams in the council.

Visit The Thread

Just go to thethread.renfrewshire.gov.uk and start exploring!

Get in touch with us and let us know how useful you find The Thread and how we can work with you to improve the digital experience for all.

Latest story on The Thread:

'Web Accessibility is everywhere and everyone's responsibility' Improving accessibility online is essential to ensure more users can engage easily with our organisation and the services we offer. It's also a legal requirement. Read on The Thread why web accessibility is an outcome we must reach.

Digital Experience Manager, Philippe Fara said, "Digital experience represents the way we engage with our users over a variety of digital channels, from websites and mobile apps to social media. The better we make our digital experience, the easier it will be for our local communities and our staff to access the information they need and use our online services."


Our events are going online this spring and summer

Our spring and summer events programme will be taking place online this year, kicking off with the popular Paisley Food and Drink Festival across 10 days in April.

The festival will showcase the rich diversity of Renfrewshire's food and drink offer along with interactive culinary experiences, including cooking demonstrations, workshops, ways to grow your own food and much more. A great way to get some healthy eating into your wellbeing regime!

Our Head of Marketing, Communications and Events, Louisa Mahon said "The Paisley Food and Drink Festival is always one of the highlights of our annual events calendar—and this year's online programme will provide a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on the exceptional food and drink offer we have across Renfrewshire".

Following the success of last year's event, Paisley's annual Sma' Shot Day celebrations will also be marked with a programme of online events to commemorate the historic victory of local weavers.

Louisa added, "Sma' Shot Day represents an important part of Paisley's heritage and we were delighted with the warm reception last year's online celebrations received from local people, as well as those from further afield who wouldn't normally be able to take part in the day's events.

"This year's online event will look to carry on these traditions and feeling of community spirit, while offering opportunities for everyone to get involved in celebrating this great day".

The event will take place on Saturday 3 July— the time when the weavers and their families would traditionally take their holidays.

Look out for more details on the Paisley Food and Drink Festival and Sma' Shot Day on the Paisley Is website and on social media: @paisleyis on Facebook and @paisleyfoodanddrink on Instagram for the latest updates.


Taking care of our wellbeing

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic our lives have been turned upside down in ways we could never have imagined. We also could never have imagined just how long we'd be living under different restrictions and how this would throw into focus the importance of learning new ways to take care of our wellbeing.

Hope is in sight as the roll out of the vaccine continues. So, it's vital that we see this through by sticking to the guidelines and restrictions for this final stretch. Right across the council we've shown incredible resilience and demonstrated our values of being helpful, fair, collaborative and learning throughout this past year.

But it's understandable to feel down at times and it's important to recognise the struggles and challenges we all face. To help us all keep going, we ask that you take the time to be kind to yourself and prioritise your own wellbeing.

The Taking Care of Our Wellbeing Hub is there to help you find ways to stay active, eat well and support you to care for your mental health. The page also includes lots of advice and resources to help you reach out and find help when you need it.

Don't forget our employee counselling service is still available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Professional counsellors are on hand to provide you with free, confidential support via telephone and digital channels such as Skype. Visit the Time for Talking website for more information or call 0800 970 3980 for free support now.


Supporting your development because we value learning

The People Development area of our intranet is filled with information about the many learning opportunities available to everyone here at Renfrewshire Council.

Coming soon...

Over the next few weeks, the HR&OD team are running training courses in topics such as Supporting Attendance (25 March), Managing a Virtual Team (30 March), Managing Change Successfully (22 April), Working in a Virtual Team (27 April), A Coaching Mindset (27 April) and Emotional Intelligence (29 April).

SAMH, the Scottish Association for Mental Health, are running a series of online workshops with topics including Maintaining Wellbeing (24 March), Building Resilience (25 March), Mental Health in the Workplace—A Guide for Managers (25/29 March) and Introduction to Suicide Prevention (29 March).

Choose Life Renfrewshire have also arranged the 'A Conversation About...' series to introduce us to information and support for Mental Health (20 April), Anxiety (21 April) and Depression (22 April).

For more information and afull list of dates and courses available visit the People Development area on the intranet.

A message for our frontline teams

We recognise that many of you across our frontline teams are unable to access information on our intranet channel. So, if you are interested in finding out more, please ask your manager to share this information with you.

If you are a manager or team leader in a frontline service, you may have bespoke training requirements or may need us to provide our support in a different way to make it accessible.

Please let us know what we can do to help you and your teams by completing our contact form so we can get in touch to discuss your needs.


Leading Our Values training for managers

The launch of the 'Leading Our Values' training module marks the next stage in our journey to create the organisational culture our staff have told us they want to be part of.

With a mix of practical tips, downloadable templates and useful scenarios to aid discussion and feedback, the module will help managers visibly demonstrate our values and support their teams to understand what's expected of them.

At just around an hour long, the module can be completed in one go or with progress saved to pick up again at a later date. Managers have been asked to complete this by the end of April before the roll out of the Living Our Values training begins for all staff in May. Leading Our Values training for managers is available on iLearn now.

"Our new People Strategy, which is due to be implemented in the next few months, makes a commitment to creating a positive and healthy workplace culture though inspirational leadership. How we live our values not only shapes this culture, but the experience of every employee in it. I'm delighted to see the launch of this training and look forward to hearing how you have started to apply the learning and principles with your teams" - Sandra Black, Chief Executive

We asked some managers to test out the module before launch:

"The module is very worthwhile. It's helpful and insightful and just about the right amount of content and time allocated to it."

"I particularly like the templates for individual managers to reflect on their own practice and hope this is something that will be used widely."

"I like the fact that participants can come away with an action plan which is really important following professional development."

"This is really good; well done I think it will give a great expectation and explanation of what we should all be doing every day and consistently"

For more on Our Values including our handy staff guide, launch video, colleague examples and senior leader Stories visit our staff webpage and watch the Our Values playlist on YouTube.

For questions and feedback on the Leading Our Values module, please complete this online form.


Thank you to all our teams who have kept Renfrewshire moving all winter

One thing we can always rely on to challenge us as a council is winter weather. Our preparations begin months in advance to ensure that when it hits, we're #RenReady to respond to whatever comes our way.

This year was no different, but the combination of the current pandemic and some extreme snowfall meant it was more challenging than ever. Thankfully though, we have incredible teams on the frontline.

Our gritting teams were out at all hours in difficult conditions to clear the roads of snow and grit them to prevent ice forming, ensuring that essential travel could still take place for those who needed it.

Roadworker John Clark said, "We can be called to grit any time of day as well as during the night, which means we are the first on the roads before they have been treated. I've driven in some treacherous conditions when the snow is heavy and it can be quite scary coming down the steep roads in the Gleniffer Braes when it is hard to see what is in front of you, but I take my time to ensure it's safe for me and for our residents."

Our bin collection teams ploughed tirelessly through the snow to collect all the bins they could and made a monumental effort to return for any missed from the previous days, meaning that our collection schedule stayed on track for our residents.

On the first day of heavy snowfall, our team at Linwood recycling centre even walked to work as they couldn't drive and ensured that the centre was open for those who needed it.

And our StreetScene team have continued to clean our streets, empty our bins and collect rubbish from our #TeamUptoCleanUp volunteers no matter the weather - with members of the team joining the gritting effort too when required.

Lindsey Hepburn, Waste Operations Manager, said: "My team, and all the others on our frontline, have made incredible efforts over the winter to ensure that we can still deliver our services for local people in Renfrewshire."

The lengths they've gone to may go unnoticed by residents who don't see behind the scenes, but I'm incredibly grateful for the work they do and hope they know how appreciated they are."


Connecting residents to services online

Did you spot the great work of our Digital First team when we highlighted the success of MyAccount throughout 2020 in one of our recent editions of Take 5?

The online portal for connecting residents to council services became a vital channel as offices closed in 2020 and the Digital Frist team worked tirelessly to help keep Renfrewshire running by bringing both existing and new processes to MyAccount.

Exactly one year ago during March 2020, MyAccount saw 763 new users signing up in just one week! Throughout the year, a total of 4,871 COVID-19 grant applications were made online online and 1,887 children were registered for Primary 1 through the portal.

For more great stats highlighting just how well all this hard work has paid off, check out the following infographic.

If you live in Renfrewshire and haven't signed up to use MyAccount online services yet, what are you waiting for?!

Sign up today and start benefiting from the many online services.


Happy retirement Joan!

Heriot Primary School and Early Learning Childcare Centre last month waved off a muchloved member of the team, cleaner Joan Bryce after 29 years at Renfrewshire Council and 14 years with the school.

Depute head teacher, Lucy Scollen, described Joan's departure as 'the end of an era' but wishes her all the best for her retirement. Having welcomed her baby granddaughter into the world last year, she knows Joan will enjoy being kept busy as a doting Gran.

She said, "Joan's last shift with us was emotional. She was showered with lovely gifts and bouquets of flowers from her colleagues because we all wanted her to know how special she is to us and that we appreciate everything she has done. Nothing was ever too much hassle for Joan - she always went above and beyond to be helpful. We wish her all the best and hope she enjoys every minute of being a grandmother".

Lucy added, "As we couldn't do very much by way of a celebration, we plan to have her back in the school when restrictions ease for an afternoon tea and a proper celebration with the Heriot team".

Joan's team leader, Brian Connelly said, "Joan was a valued member of soft FM who was very well liked. She was always a conscientious worker who took great pride in her work. She will be missed by her team, and as her team leader I will miss our chats about cats and her offer of a biscuit. We all wish her a very happy retirement."


Social Shout Outs

As we look forward to Spring, our Facebook and Twitter channels are recieving lots of fantastic feedback and well wishes from the people of Renfrewshire. Just goes to show all your hard work is recognised and appreciated. Here are just a few of the comments we've received recently...

"Renfrewshire Brilliant, keep up the good work team." - Fiona Helen Matheson

"Big thanks to @RenCouncil for sending a fab crew to empty my missed green bin within 24 hrs of reporting it. My recycling efforts can continue uninterrupted" - Aileen Wilson

"Fantastic service by @RenCouncil today. I reported a street lighting fault at 8pm last night and the repair was carried out at 11am today. Outstanding turnaround." - Ross Arnott

"Shout out to staff of The Mirin @RenCouncil doing their absolute best to engage adults w. disabilities in Zoom activities. Co-ordinating 16 people doing online baking/ keep fit/ crafts??! I take my hat off. The Mirin is seriously improving my brother's 'lockdown' quality of life." - Alison Gilmour

"The cleansing department has done a wonderful job through the whole pandemic. Well done all of you!" - Lorna McMillan

"Yeah, a big thank you guys, you've been brilliant through all of this!" - June Kennedy

"You guys are doing and have been doing a fantastic job. Thank you x" - Cat McIntyre

"Well done to all of our local services, difficult conditions make your task harder. Doing a great job." - Murray White

"Gritters have done a great job so far, keep it up and thank you" - Elaine R Weir

"The team has done a great job. Very clear roads, even in housing estates. Thanks to everyone involved." - Mary Bland Smith

"Great and Well Done to everyone involved...On-site staff/volunteers were friendly and explained everything and it was really quiet. Test done in 10 mins and went home...Couldn't ask for better!" - Donald Massie about the Gallowhill Testing Centre

"Gritters have been visibly out and about, good job!" - Lorna Poole

"You literally have delivered again. My street was covered in thick ice. We asked for help and today a new grit bin was dropped off. Great service... Thanks" - MrJamez

"Well done guys youse are doing an amazing job keeping our town clean & tidy thank you" - Arlene Beatrix

"What a fantastic job use all do stay safe" - Liz Graham


Share your stories and photos

Don't forget we'd love to hear from you! It could be a photo of you working from home, something interesting from your daily walk, or a photo of your new "colleagues" (furry friends most welcome!). Have you started volunteering or taking on new roles and responsibilities you never thought you would? Tell us all about it and we can share your stories.

Send them in to internalcommunications@renfrewshire.gov.uk