Council staff working in new and different roles across the county to support vulnerable people

The Proud of Bucks campaign has been paying tribute to the efforts of key workers supporting the county during the Covid-19 crisis. Healthcare professionals, local organisations and our very own councillors have all risen to the challenge, as have council staff, who have been working exceptionally hard to coordinate the council’s response during this turbulent time.

Many officers are now splitting their time or working in entirely new roles so that the council can keep frontline services running, plus direct resources at the current emergency. There are so many stories of staff going out of their way to effect real change in their communities, whether they’re working in local care homes, in the new reablement facility at Olympic Lodge, supporting the Adult Social Care service or co-ordinating supplies of food to vulnerable people and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to care and support staff who need it.

Council staff have also been supporting the eight Local Support Hubs across the county. Set up to help and protect the most vulnerable residents in each area, the hub’s role is to support them with accessing food and essential supplies and generally take care of people’s health and mental wellbeing. Running them is a cross-council effort, not least at the Buckingham Hub, where staff have joined forces from Housing and Communities; including seven library officers who make the daily phone calls and collect and deliver prescriptions for some clients.

Charlie in her home office

Charlie Griffin is one of the Hub officers, who is splitting her time between this role and her job in Democratic and Electoral Services. So far, Charlie has been building up a database of local food suppliers to provide information to vulnerable people on how they can access food. Charlie commented: ‘There is so much good going on in the community, it’s really heart-warming to talk to local business owners and hear how they want to help, as well as what they are already doing to help. I love the variety of work that I’m doing. I feel like my sense of public duty has heightened because I can clearly see the benefits of the work I’m doing.’

Charlie’s story and the work of the Buckingham Hub as a whole is just one example of how the council is working in partnership with local volunteers, community groups, charities and businesses to reach as many residents as possible.

For all Hub staff across the county, including Buckingham Hub manager Michael Veryard, ‘this has meant leaving behind our normal council jobs and taking on a new role almost overnight. It has also meant setting up processes and teams for the hubs within just a few days and with no pre-planning. It has been an incredibly busy and hectic few weeks, but I have been very lucky to have a brilliant team of council officers who have stepped up from their day-to-day work to form the Hub Team. Since we started off nearly a month ago, the Buckingham Hub has already contacted over 250 shielded or vulnerable households across 40 towns and villages in our area and provided a range of advice and assistance including help with getting food and medication. This has included linking people to voluntary services in their local towns and parishes which are playing a vital role in supporting our local residents.’

Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health said: “It’s incredibly heartening to see the way in which so many members of staff have responded to community needs since we were hit by this virus. Often working long hours in completely new roles, they have made an incredible contribution and helped Bucks residents stay safe, fed and cared for. It makes me really #ProudofBucks.”