Provost Howatson recognises continued efforts of Aberdeenshire Council staff

Provost of Aberdeenshire Councillor Bill Howatson has sent a message of thanks and praise to staff for their continuing efforts and commitment to North east communities during the Covid19 pandemic.

In his open letter, he said: “It’s been more than five months since our lives were transformed by the global outbreak of coronavirus and, while we are certainly making progress in stemming the spread of Covid-19, we are far from returning to normality.

“As a council, we have had to adapt quickly and efficiently to ensure the majority of our services continue as far as possible which has meant changes across the board.

“It was - and continues to be - a particularly challenging time for all those frontline staff within the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership who ensured they delivered superb care and support to our most elderly and vulnerable residents for which we are tremendously grateful.

“We saw Roads and Landscape Services personnel redeployed to focus efforts on core services such as household waste collections and burials as a number of staff members were either shielding or remained off work through illness.

“Teaching staff took their classrooms online to continue providing vital lessons to ensure our younger generations maintained their studies.

“Staff from our Live Life Aberdeenshire facilities which had to close because of coronavirus provided tremendous support for the Grampian Assistance Hub which supports people across Grampian with information on how to access social, practical and emotional support during the emergency.

“For our office-based staff, the pandemic meant around 4,000 people began working from home – in many cases having to juggle their workload with providing home-schooling support for their children or family during the lockdown. That’s before we even take into account the work our staff did in their own time and in their own communities.

“We have seen many examples of staff adapting the way in which they work and on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council I would like to thank you all for the hard work and dedication you have demonstrated these past few months.

“Of course, in recent weeks, many of our staff went above and beyond in response to two major incidents. After a torrential, sustained downpour - and as our teams responded to flooding in Stonehaven during the morning of Wednesday, August 12 - news quickly followed of the tragic train derailment south of the town at Carmont.

“Our thoughts will always be with the families of those who lost ones and, of course, with all those who survived but suffered injury. Heartfelt appreciation also goes to all those members of staff who rushed to both scenes that fateful morning and provided support to the emergency services under incredibly difficult conditions.

“I am both hugely-impressed and humbled by the resilience and dedication we, as a local authority, continue to demonstrate.

“And that strength lies in each and every one of you. Our services play a vital role in supporting, improving and enhancing our communities and I want to thank you all for your efforts in continuing to make that happen day after day.

“On a final note, I appreciate that some of you may be nervous or uncertain about what the future holds whether that be the ongoing threat of Covid-19, a return to work or what council services may look like in the future. Rest assured, your wellbeing remains of paramount importance to us.

"That is why getting in touch at this stage was so important. I want each of you to know that your work is appreciated, your concerns and ideas listened to, and there is support available should you need it at any stage of this unprecedented journey.”