Supporting our frontline during Covid19 – James’ story

James Burns, an Environmental Officer in Liverpool, answered our call for extra support on the frontline during lockdown, to help us continue delivering important services for customers. He tells us about his time as Interim Service Delivery Manager at our Powerhouse service in Liverpool.

When lockdown began, the Environment Services team were stood down until further notice, along with many of our repairs and maintenance services who were redeployed to support colleagues working in our retirement living schemes and supported housing services.

I started looking at the options available for a transfer, and found that my skill set and experience working with vulnerable people in previous roles would be a good fit. As part of a selection process, I was asked if I’d be willing to take the Service Delivery Manager role at The Powerhouse.

The Powerhouse supports young adults in the Liverpool area who have complex needs. The team there had been right in the middle of a recruitment process when lockdown started, which had to be put on hold. After conversations with my manager, we agreed I would step in and support the team until the Environment Services team’s work resumed.

I spent over two months at The Powerhouse and I learnt so much from the experience. It opened my eyes to the variety of services we provide at Riverside, the challenges that our colleagues in this part of the organisation face, and the range of people we support, and their backgrounds.

My role involved managing the MARS project, which helps house people who have recently left prison and have no fixed abode. My experience in the Probation Service in a previous job helped me understand the project and get to grips with it quickly. I also co-ordinated the delivery of PPE supplies for all of our teams in the region, ensuring they had everything they needed to continue delivering services in line with government advice.

My day job in the Environment Services team involves dealing with health and safety queries, planning and managing our tree programme and ensuring any subcontractors we work with meet the right quality standards. Although it’s quite different to the responsibilities I took on at The Powerhouse, the main constant I found between the two roles was the values held by each team in how they carry out their jobs. We’re all working towards a common goal of transforming lives and revitalising neighbourhoods, and knowing this really helped me adapt to this new environment and a new role.

One of the most memorable parts of my time there was when the team were supporting a young male who was socially shielding for health reasons, but needed daily injections in his stomach to stay well.

He was worried that, during his fast for Ramadan, taking his injections would go against his beliefs. The Powerhouse team worked together to support him, taking time to listen to and understand his concerns. They helped him understand how important it is to focus on health and wellbeing, particularly during this unprecedented time, and they managed to find a solution that helped him continue to receive the medication and care he needs.

It was amazing to see how everyone worked together to deal with such a unique and challenging situation, while always focusing on the customer’s needs and wellbeing.

Reflecting on my time at The Powerhouse, I’m so grateful for the experience and the support from the team, helping me create new working relationships outside of my day job. They truly live and breathe Riverside’s values, providing an amazing service and ensuring our customers feel safe and secure.

A huge thank you to everyone who supported me during this period.