Residents say thank you to council staff working tirelessly through the coronavirus pandemic

“I am more grateful than I can say and thank them from the bottom of my heart for everything they did and all with such gentleness and professionalism.”

“We really are very grateful to you and cannot stress how much of a difference it has made to us this week just knowing we’re not alone in these worrying times.”

These are just two of the hundreds of messages of gratitude and appreciation for Durham County Council workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

And now the local authority has moved to thank those who have gone to the effort of sending in such kind-hearted messages despite the challenges posed by the virus.

The council has been striving to ensure the essential services it provides for residents are impacted as little as possible by COVID-19, such as collecting bins and caring for vulnerable children and adults.

It was the efforts of the authority’s emergency duty team (EDT) that yielded the first message above. The team received a call from Jenny Payne, whose County Durham based mother had been admitted to hospital following a suspected stroke. Jenny’s mother is the main carer for her 92 year old husband who is blind, and because of restrictions in place due to coronavirus, the couple’s daughter was unable to travel from her home in Cumbria to help.

Jenny called the EDT which after contacting several providers was able to put a care package in place for her father within 24 hours, and arrange meal provision.

Jenny said: “I will never be able to thank them enough because they supported me whilst I was in a panic and so upset. They were so calm and they were just completely practical and helpful.”

The “knowing we’re not alone in these worrying times” message came as a result of the council’s County Durham Together Community Hub.

Via the hub, the council was able to both arrange for one resident to have someone call at her home to see if there was anything she needed, and provide advice on supermarket delivery options specifically for the elderly and vulnerable.

The thank you message received read: “We cannot tell you how much more supported and reassured we feel. It just makes all the difference to know that there is support out there if required.”

Two more messages came into staff from the council’s pest control team. One came from a resident who missed an officer’s call to her home after her car suffered a puncture, only for him to come back after she contacted the authority.

In her message of thanks, she said: “All sorted thank you. He was in the area and came back and what amazing service I have had today on the text, the phone and from the officer…outstanding please pass that on to all involved.”

The second came following a visit by a pest control officer to the home of a couple who were self-isolating.

Relaying what the resident reported in her phone call of thanks, the officer’s manager said: “She told me you reassured her she can enjoy her garden, even though she cannot see her grandchildren.”

“She was getting emotional and she nearly had me in tears, her last words to me were she loves us and the job we do.”

Cllr Andrea Patterson, the council’s Cabinet member for corporate services and rural issues, said: “On behalf of all our staff, I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the residents for their kind messages of support.

“We truly have an amazing workforce and that has never been more apparent than in the current climate, and I would like to pass on my gratitude to all our staff for everything they are doing to continue providing services to residents.

“It is always rewarding for staff to receive thanks and positive feedback from the public – the volume of messages has been overwhelming and is greatly appreciated. They make such a difference to those delivering services on the front line and those working behind the scenes to keep things running as smoothly as possible in these challenging times.”

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