More than 160 water company employees have volunteered to support their local communities during the Covid-19 period.
A total of 167 Northumbrian Water employees have already signed up to donate their time to supporting great causes, including the NHS and St John’s Ambulance.
A programme established by the company is working to match people with community needs, allowing them to carry out roles including delivering food to vulnerable people and talking on the phone with those who are socially isolated.
Northumbrian Water set up the programme that allows those employees who are unable to work from home or in a safe environment and who are not needed to be trained up as reserves for critical roles delivering essential water and wastewater services, to support good causes.
The water supplier already has volunteers placed with the NHS, charities and other organisations, to support their work.
Lucy Kettleborough, Operations Support Assistant, lives in an area with a large demographic of people over the age of 70, so it was clear that when lockdown came in there would be large parts of the community self-isolating.
She said: “On the weeks when I am working from home I really wanted to help people around me so I signed up to Stokesley & District Community Care Association to be a Covid-19 Support Volunteer. This involves collecting vital medical prescriptions and essential food parcels and delivering them to those who the government have deemed vulnerable and having to self-isolate for 12 weeks. When making deliveries it has become clear that sometimes I am the first person they have seen or spoken to all day so stopping for chat through the window or from the end of the driveway has become a normal way of life and actually really lifts the spirits of all of us.”
Sophie Carvin, Northumbrian Water’s Academy Manager is co-ordinating the effort.
She said: “We have made it possible for as many employees as possible to do their normal jobs from home, and put measures in place so that those essential workers who do still have to leave the house can do so as safely as possible.
“However, there are some who are unable to fulfill their normal duties at this time, and some who have time freed up because of limitations on what they are able to do. This has proved an opportunity for them offer to valuable support as volunteers in our communities.
“We have moved many of our people into front line roles, such as running water or wastewater treatment works, often where they have prior experience, and more than 140 have undergone training to give them the skills to move into positions that are different from their day jobs.
“We still have volunteers to match up to organisations, so charities or community groups that need some extra help should feel free to get in touch.”