How council staff have been redeployed to frontline roles in coronavirus pandemic
PUBLISHED: 17:28 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:28 09 April 2020
Staff at Suffolk’s councils who have been redeployed into frontline roles have been praised for their efforts in the coronavirus pandemic.
With council offices, gyms, pools and other services shut down as part of government lockdown measures, some staff have joined the efforts of frontline council services.
Jack Mallett normally spends his day keeping people safe as a lifeguard at Crown Pools in Ipswich, but happily dived into helping the council’s HEARS service – the 24-hour personal alarm response for older and vulnerable people to remain independent in their homes.
MORE: GPs urge public to get health issues checked despite coronavirus pandemic
It operates as a pendant alarm which people can trigger if they need assistance, such as a fall at home.
Following some training, the 22-year-old has been helping with response teams.
“They asked for volunteers and we got people to step up straight away,” he said.
“A lot of my first aid training is quite transferable, and it’s a nice change of pace.
“It’s a very rewarding role to be able to do. Some of these people are very isolated anyway, but with coronavirus that is not helping, so they are very grateful.
“A thank-you goes a long way.”
The team has been utilising PPE where needed in people’s homes, although Jack admitted that every home and every situation is different.
Another to make the switch was 23-year-old Jade Giddens.
Normally a manager at Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich, Jade spent a week with Families in Need delivering food parcels to those struggling to make ends meet before joining the HEARS emergency control centre.
A couple of weeks of training resulted in her first shift manning the phones on Thursday night.
She said: “For me, I was happy to do whatever it took.
“The ops manager asked us to put down five service areas we were willing to go to and I chose the emergency control room.
“It’s so good to be involved – there’s so much pressure on the NHS and ambulance services so it is good to be involved and help respond to people in need.”
MORE: Follow the Suffolk Coronavirus Facebook page for latest updates
Both Jack and Jade admitted the roles are a change of pace to what they are used to, but have been entirely willing to do their bit in the fight to keep crucial services going.
They represent just two among scores of council workers across the county to step up to the mark and get involved in unfamiliar services.
With pleas for NHS volunteers, fruit pickers to work the fields and shoppers to help the vulnerable, both Jack and Jade are unanimous in their message to those who can help.
“Get stuck in – there are people that are going to need help.”
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