Council staff recognised for Covid-19 response

23rd December 2020

Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Diana Armstrong, has paid tribute to Council staff for their hard work and commitment throughout the year.

Speaking about the response by Council staff to the Covid-19 health pandemic, Councillor Armstrong, said:

“2020 has been a year like no other in living memory. The Covid-19 global pandemic has presented us with significant challenges and has forced us to reappraise work practices and has had a major impact on all our lives.

I am incredibly proud the staff of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, in the manner in which they have continued to deliver critical services practically uninterrupted, adapted to working off-site or redeployed to other service areas where support was needed.”

At an online staff recognition event, a number of service teams and staff members received special recognition for their response to Covid-19.

These included:

  • staff who worked in the Community Hub and Food distribution project which operated during the spring Covid-19 restrictions. The Community Hub provided support to more than 2,700 people and coordinated the distribution of more than 17,000 food parcels to those in food need;
  • the ICT team for support provided to the Council’s emergency response to the health pandemic which included enabling more than 300 employees to deliver Council services from home; improving employee communication through digital channels and setting up online Council and Committee meetings from May in support of local democracy and decision making – the first Council in Northern Ireland to do so
  • the Registration Services team who registered births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships, in line with the evolving restrictions since March, with dedication, empathy and compassion
  • the Council’s staff Health and Wellbeing Group for the support and resources made available to colleagues, particularly in relation to mental health, during Covid-19
  • Members of staff selected for individual recognition included:
    • Tim Foley, Clean Neighbourhoods Enforcement Officer for his role in protecting and improving the quality of the environment including dealing with high levels of fly tipping throughout the pandemic
    • Seamus Masterson, Lead Mechanic, whose dedication and commitment to his job ensured the Council’s household bin collection service vehicles were always ready to operate throughout the pandemic
    • Karen Kerr George, recognised by the Sports and Social Club, for her charitable work

The online staff recognition event is just one part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to the recognition of its employees throughout the Covid-19 health pandemic and in support of employee health and wellbeing.

Earlier this year the Council worked to ensure that staff placed on furlough would not be impacted financially and drew down funding from the government’s Job Retention Scheme to reduce the impact of the loss of income from the closure of Council facilities and venues as required in line with legislation at the time.

The Council also formally recognised staff who contributed significantly to the Covid-19 emergency response and the continuation of essential services by making an additional one-off payment to staff operating in essential public facing roles and granting additional leave to staff who were involved in supporting the Council’s critical response, however not on the front line, during the spring lockdown.

Since the formation of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, the Council has remained committed to maintaining good industrial relations with the three recognised trade unions. It has also developed a well-established framework for ongoing consultation and negotiation with the trade unions in support of staff health and wellbeing and the delivery of high quality, value for money services for its ratepayers.

Concluding, Councillor Armstrong said:

“2020 has been a very difficult and challenging year for everyone. I and my other Council colleagues are grateful to staff for their ongoing dedication and commitment to supporting the Council as it works with others to improve the lives and wellbeing of our communities.”