CORONAVIRUS has brought new challenges and working practices for thousands of town hall staff across East Lancashire.

Now one local authority is highlighting how its employees have adapted to the Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s ‘Worker Bee’ social media campaign will show how backroom staff have moved onto the frontline and key staff helping the public have adapted to the pandemic.

It features 11 of its employees who have been conducting 'window meetings' with residents, delivering services digitally, moving to virtual ways of working from home or transferring to its coronavirus 'Help Hub' to support 3,500 vulnerable and self-isolating individuals.

And it highlights how those who still had to go out to maintain the borough's road, parks and gardens, collect households bins, or help troubled young people, families and the elderly adapted to observe social distancing.

Denise Park, the borough’s chief executive, said: “I’m truly humbled by the way council staff have stepped up during this unprecedented crisis, so often going above and beyond the call of duty. The Worker Bees campaign is just a small way of showing our appreciation to our staff and their extraordinary dedication.”

Cllr Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “I know it’s not been an easy time for anyone, especially staff who have put their own worries aside to come to work and help others.

“The nature of the council’s work often means our staff always don’t get the recognition they deserve.

"I would personally like to thank each and every employee for stepping up to the challenge to help the whole community during this unprecedented time.”





THE physical activity and health improvement manager has seen her job change from sweaty gyms and face-to-face advice sessions to virtual advice and workouts.

She said: "We’ve had to totally change how we work and we’ve adapted so we deliver as much as we can digitally – but we really miss the face-to-face contact.

“We have quite a lot of older clients and many of them are isolated or shielding due to different health conditions. We’re calling people once a week to check in.

“We've completely revamped our website – so it’s packed full of exercise videos, ideas and resources to help people – especially those that might have never done anything before.”



THE mental health social worker has found working from home a challenge but unexpectedly rewarding.

She said: “I was a bit concerned about how I’d be able to do my job effectively at first but we’ve all adapted brilliantly.

“Having to use things like WhatsApp and Facetime might have been a bit strange for us as social workers - but it’s second nature to a lot of the kids I work with. This has helped them feel at ease. They’ve seen us in our own home environment, and maybe experiencing some of the same things they are. It’s broken down barriers and helped build trust.

" If I can help people cope and give them the ability to look at themselves and reflect and not want to take their own life then I’ve done my job.”



THE adolescent service manager, who oversees the Engage team who look after sexually and criminally exploited children, has found Facetime and WhatsApp a successful alternative to face-to-face meetings to maintain contact with the young people.

She has helped deliver activities for its clients including providing ingredients them to bake, a book loaning system and an outdoor circuit course with punch bag to allow them to release their frustration and anxieties.

Clare also told how her team surprised a young client anxious that her 16th birthday would not be celebrated because of lockdown: "We put bunting up, had a mini picnic, and everyone sang Happy Birthday to her.

“She was really overwhelmed because she thought it was going to be an unnoticed birthday

“I'm extremely proud of the teams I support. They have adapted to the changes with a positive attitude.”



THE assessment manager who helps patients recently discharged from hospital has had to radically change how her team design and deliver care packages to help them settles back home and regain their independence.

Colette has been has been carrying out weekly reviews by telephone

She said: “Patients are coming out from hospital with Covid-19 and coming into our care. We've all been scared.

“Support workers have been given PPE to ensure that both employees and patients feel safe and protected, as some patients have been discharged from hospital after contracting Covid-19.

“It's amazing how far we've come in such difficult times. We weren't prepared for this whatsoever. It makes you feel proud to be part of it.”



THE environment boss has been keeping the borough green and tidy and praising the local NHS in giant line-painted letters.

He said: “We’ve been putting messages in football pitches thanking keyworkers and the NHS. At Pleasington Playing Fields we covered about half a pitch and the message made the headlines on the news.

“The grass doesn’t stop growing, the trees don’t stop growing, and the flowers and the weeds don’t stop growing because of coronavirus. We still need to plant our flowers because they were ordered nine months ago.

“The cemetery service has been challenging. It has been hard work for our grave diggers, grounds maintenance staff and cemetery office. They have really stood out for me.”



It's been a change of role for the Blackburn leisure centre receptionist who has been fielding calls on the borough coronavirus 'Help Hub'.

She said: “Some people that call need specialist help and I’m able to signpost them to the right services, but where I can I help people myself and I’ve really enjoyed it.

" I’ve built up quite a relationship with some callers and they now call me regularly once a week for a chat. A number of them haven’t left their homes for 12 weeks and I may be the only person they’ve had a proper conversation with.

“Seeing how much people appreciate what we’re doing and knowing you’ve made a difference has been such a positive experience."


THE coronavirus pandemic has seen the rehabilitation expert switch from computer and paper to his bike to look after borough victims of strokes, heart problems and lung disease.

He has been cycling to the homes of his clients and holding ‘window consultations’ with them while delivering home exercise kits to those self-isolating.

Kevin said: “The feedback has been really positive. These trip have felt really beneficial to those people who have few or no family members or people who don’t live locally to them. We found that that was a really good way of interacting with them.

“We are lucky that patients can exercise for longer than the usual 12-week cut-off, and we’re in a fortunate position where we can continue exercise to limit the secondary events that people could potentially endure further on in life. We maintain constant monitoring,”



FOR the highways operations boss, lockdown rules could lead to long-term changes in how his team of 28 staff work,

They are responsible for a broad range of tasks including fixing potholes, street lighting, drainage and major roadworks projects.

He said they found themselves working through the night to observe social distancing rules.

Les said:“We are constantly reviewing everything we do to ensure it's being done safely. Our operations are manual, and people work in teams so the social distancing has become critical for carrying out tasks safely.

“Changing the operations has been a useful process because it provided us the opportunity to review whether we are doing things in the best way.”



THE clinical referrals manager for family health has found that advice through the window of his clients' homes is the 'new normal'.

He said: “My team and I are always working on the front line trying to improve the lives of our patients.

“We have tried to make sure that needs are met at all times, whether that’s a telephone call, one of our new socially distanced window consultations, or just giving them hope to think ‘it’s okay, we’ll be out there soon’.

“There has been a huge increase in home-based exercise. It has certainly improved some client’s independence and confidence to exercise at home."



SWITCHING from his role in the council's social integration team to the borough's 'Help Hub' has seen him switch from a four-day week to a seven-day one including working weekends and Bank Holidays.

His role includes regularly checking the Hub portal to ensure no emergencies are missed

He said: “To get together as a team to and pull together to make this happen in itself is something to learn from and take forward

“The work that I do is behind the scenes, but we've had cards, letters and emails from people saying it's been a lifesaver.

“For example, there was a chap we couldn't get in touch with so we contacted the police. They did a visit to the house and he'd fallen down inside the house.”



THE long-term health expert moved from tackling obesity and liver disease problems to helping out in care homes.

And her fluency in Swahili saw he broadcasting on the UK pandemic situation on her naive Kenyan TV and BBC Africa.

She said: “Everything I was doing was put on hold. Because of COVID-19 I was asked to work with the care homes and work with the infection control teams. It was completely different to what I was doing before.

“I was worried, thinking will I be able to give them the right advice? Will I be able to do the right thing? Will I manage."

Tabitha is now helping the council devise an outbreak management plan.