Blackburn with Darwen: from planning to packing for council boss

A SENIOR council planner has swapped his desk and application forms for packing food parcels for the isolated and vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic. Gavin Prescott is just one of many Blackburn with Darwen Council staff in new roles at the borough Help Hub for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak. The town hall planning manager said: "I'm very happy to help at the food hub.

It's also a great workout!" Digital business analyst Joanne Grime,has helped develop new IT systems to manage residents' requests for help and deliveries leaving the warehouse. She said: " We needed an easy online form for residents to tell us their needs.

We also needed to capture and share the right information between our teams to target support. Systems were set up in a matter of days. We trained 40 staff remotely."

Leisure centre receptionist Emma Wilkinson , who has retrained to take calls in the contact centre, said: "A lot of our residents, no matter their normal circumstances, are finding the current situation tough to deal with. We are offering a friendly voice down the phone lines." Fellow leisure team worker Sunil Salogee, also taking calls at contact centre, said: "Being part of our new team has been a fantastic opportunity to help those who need it most.

Working in leisure taught me many skills I am using to help those in need." Graham Haley, a lifeguard and swimming instructor at Darwen Leisure Centre has been working in the food warehouse, managing stock and inbound deliveries. He said: "I've enhanced my skills by training to drive the fork lift truck at the food hub, and am enjoying the new challenge."

Cllr Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn wth Darwen Council, said: "It's wonderful to see our staff pitching in to support our Help Hub in a variety of ways."

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