WHILST doctors, nurses, carers and other NHS staff continue to battle tirelessly to save lives and fight the coronavirus, other workers remain at work making sure the city runs as smoothly as possible for us all.

Among the key workers are the city’s waste service workers have been hard at work for the past fortnight after rounds were cancelled due to staff shortages brought on by the coronavirus and homelessness teams have continued finding accommodation for the county's most vulnerable to name but two.

Alex Parry, who is a fleet manager for the city council’s waste service, is usually responsible for inspecting and servicing bin lorries but has been pulled onto the frontline to cope with the big increase in demand helping take rubbish to the tip.

Mr Parry said he and his fellow waste service workers are having to contend with heavier bins picking up an extra 10 tonnes every round meaning more and more trips to empty lorries.

He said: “With far more people at home all the time and with the kids not going to school, most households are simply producing more waste.

“Some people are drinking more at home, and that means more bottles which can be very heavy. So a black bin round that might normally pick up 16 or 17 tonnes of waste is now picking up 26 tonnes.”

Mr Parry said he has been driving around the city in an empty bin lorry ready to hand it over to crews when other lorries are full – saving hours of time a day.

“I’ve also been on the frontline picking up the bins some days, and most people you see are really grateful,” he said.

“We’ve even had some offer us coffee or chocolates, but we can’t take it of course, because of the social distancing.

David Hill, another of the council’s waste workers, has been finishing his usual rounds collecting businesses waste from NHS buildings and care homes and then heading out to help his colleagues pick up rubbish and recycling as well as doing any other work that was needed.

“I’ve been doing much longer hours some days, because all of us are going the extra mile,” he said.

“We’ve had quite a few of the team being forced to self-isolate, so it’s been a real challenge to catch up with rounds that we had to miss. We’ve been trying our best and we are making really good progress now.”

Mr Hill said that whilst it was much easier to travel through the city’s main roads with hardly any traffic on the road, side streets were proving extremely difficult because people are staying at home.

Mr Hill said he was pleased to see support on the streets for him and his colleagues.

“What’s great about this is how appreciative most people are. We’ve had people coming out, clapping and cheering,” he said.

“Some people have even offered us cans of pop to say thank you. That’s great – it really makes you feel good.

Cllr Marc Bayliss, leader of Worcester City Council, said: "I would like to say a huge thank you to all those staff that are working, particularly those who are on the front line and out there keeping essential services going.

"We really are very grateful and you are heroes. This has really reminded us of the important work you do."

Waste service colleagues across Wychavon and Malvern Hills have also thanked the public for their praise and good wishes as they work their rounds.

Crews throughout the south of the county have been gifted with messages of praise and good wishes, colourful drawings and even presents.

Teams in both councils have continued to empty both recycling and waste bins throughout the coronavirus outbreak and residents have been quick to show their appreciation in a number of ways by waving from windows and leaving thank you notes on top of bins.

Phil Merrick, director of environment for both councils, said: “Crews at our depot in Malvern and working for our Wychavon contractor FCC really appreciate the messages of support from our residents.

“We are immensely proud of all of the work they are doing in challenging times. We want to reassure people we are working hard to maintain both waste and recycling collections throughout this outbreak.”

But is not just the waste and collection crews that continue to work through this challenging time to provide support to the community.

Housing teams for both councils continues to provide emergency support to all those at risk of homelessness and are actively working with rough sleepers to get them off the streets and into accommodation.

Scores of people are also working behind the scenes to process council tax support payments and ensure businesses get access to the government’s emergency support funding.

Staff in non-essential services are also putting themselves forward to be redeployed to help support the vulnerable and other critical services.

Jack Hegarty, chief executive of both councils, said: “The true heroes of this crisis are the staff in the NHS, at the heart of fighting this disease. We are very proud, though, of all our staff who are going above and beyond to help our communities through this challenging time and will continue to do so.”

Elaine Carolan, interim strategic director of people at Worcestershire County Council, said: "Staff from across the council are putting in a huge effort to ensure the safety of people who are in receipt of adult social care.
“Staff are working creatively and at pace to provide care for some of the most vulnerable people in the county, and the desire that they’re showing to help others at this difficult time is testament to their dedication.

"Staff are going above and beyond each day and we’ve seen examples of paid carers voluntarily providing 24 hour care to residents, ensuring much needed support whilst helping to shield the most vulnerable from the Covid-19 virus. Other examples, include food parcels being delivered by former carers and staff and support is being offered to other organisations to help with their staffing shortages.

“Many staff have been redeployed to support our Adult Services Access Call Centre and the Here2Help community support service. These staff are helping to provide a much needed central contact point for vulnerable people in need of support.

“These are certainly difficult times and I’d like to say a huge thank you to our staff who are supporting our vulnerable residents, keep up the good work.”

Catherine Driscoll, chief executive officer of Worcestershire Children First, said: “I want to thank every single member of staff here at Worcestershire Children First for how they have responded to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“The team has shown resilience and flexibility to be able to adapt to working in ways they may not have done before.  These are very challenging conditions for all of us but our staff are working tirelessly to make sure that Worcestershire’s children and young people are safe and are getting the level of service they need. They are showing outstanding commitment and dedication.

“We are working very closely with the county’s schools, colleges and early years providers to ensure that if you are critical worker or your child is vulnerable or needs specialist support, our educational settings will be here to provide for them. 

“So to everyone working in social care, education, early help and all support staff, thank you and keep up the amazing work helping the children, young people and families of Worcestershire.”