As we approach a full year of fighting COVID-19 here in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, I wanted to write an open letter to every single one of our staff. It is an open letter because I am sharing it with the media and the public too – so they can see, as I do, the monumental efforts that you, our council staff, have been and are undertaking to keep people safe and provide essential services.
Our community has experienced heart-breaking loss and inconceivable challenges in the last year, and I am exceptionally proud of the role you have played in supporting people through a time of crisis. Across the council, staff have gone above and beyond – those on the frontline, those behind the scenes working to keep services running, those who have stepped up to support our COVID response and community initiatives, and the many others who have shown resilience and strength to keep going in circumstances that I know have had a personal impact on every one of you.
Your response to the pandemic has shown how you embrace and live the values that shape our work, each and every day.
The passion for our community couldn’t be clearer. The way you established the Together We Can helpline, grew it to recruit and work with volunteers, distributed food parcels, helped those experiencing loneliness, medical need or who were shielding – the effort and determination to help was simply phenomenal.
In every corner of our council, people have taken pride in what they do. The refuse crews, street cleansing teams and highways colleagues out before sunrise through a cold winter lockdown; the park and seafront teams working to keep public spaces safe; the social care teams on the frontline supporting those who are vulnerable; the environmental health and enforcement colleagues working to keep us all safe by helping others to follow the rules. In fact, every single member of staff – confronted by the biggest challenge our community has faced – adapted to change and continued to do their job, and do it well.
Like many businesses and organisations across our community, we have had to do a lot differently over the last year, but you innovated to find new ways of delivering vital services and support. Our museum teams gave virtual access to visitors; our leisure centres held energetic online classes; our library staff ran online activities and home delivery services. Those usually involved in events worked to co-ordinate signage, to help pedestrian flows in our town centres; finance teams processed millions in business grants for local firms; our IT team supported over 5,000 staff as home working became essential; and staff took on new roles supporting NHS colleagues to set up COVID testing services and a major vaccination centre.
Every initiative was driven by the dedication and drive of the people behind it, and as we pause at this point to reflect on the last year, I would like to say thank you to each and every one of you.
Councillor Drew Mellor, Leader of BCP Council