An email sent from our Chief Executive, Kersten England, to all colleagues on Tuesday, 26 May 2020:
As I wrote this I imagined, I hoped, that many of you were gathered with your household family celebrating the end of the month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid al-Fitr. I’ve been sent many pictures from friends and colleagues of the feasts they have been cooking up and a mini feast of home cooked saag paneer and dahl was the order of the day in this house too! But like Ramadan this Eid was like no other. This was a stay at home Eid. We did not see bustling shops and restaurants, large gatherings of extended family and mosques full for worship. As one message I saw said ‘we will spend this Eid apart so that we can all spend next Eid together’.
This last month of Ramadan saw so many acts of kindness – large and small – in our district from volunteers, community organisations and the workforce of our public sector. It’s been a tribute to the values we stand for, principally that generosity of spirit and care for others which I associate with the people and communities of the Bradford District.
I was particularly taken by the blog written by two of our social workers Asma Ashraf and Hamza Madni posted by the Department of Health and Social Care on its website. And the brilliant efforts of the amazing ‘The Christmas Dinner’ Bradford collective who regrouped to create Eid parcels for Bradford’s care leavers did not go unnoticed by Lemn Sissay, awesome poet and the founder of ‘the Christmas dinner’ project who is a care leaver himself.
I’d like to thank everyone who was out in our neighbourhoods and shopping streets in the run up to Eid, advising communities, shops and takeaways about keeping things safe and maintaining social distancing. I’d like to thank those in the food distribution operation, the area hubs and community centres who made sure no one went without some Eid treats. I also know many of our youth workers, wardens and neighbourhood workers will have had a busy bank holiday weekend whilst some celebrated and others relaxed and enjoyed a break.
Think also of workers across the care sector which remains on the front line of this crisis. A phenomenal effort is going in every day to bring down the toll that Covid-19 is taking on our older residents. We fought alongside our local health colleagues to secure testing for care home staff and residents, to ensure a good supply of PPE, have provided advice and support on infection prevention and control, trained new entrants to social care and provided financial support. But this has been and remains – as it has for hospitals – the most difficult of times.
As we inch out of aspects of lockdown I know intense effort is going into work to minimise the risks of seeing a rise in infection levels in our district.
We are working hard on plans to deliver the local dimension of the ‘test and trace’ programme which will see much greater effort to establish levels of infection and to suppress the potential for local outbreaks and hotspots. Colleagues from public health, environmental health and the neighbourhoods teams will be at the heart of this work with colleagues from health.This programme will require people who have been in close contact with people who have tested positive for Covid-19 to self isolate. This may well affect a greater number of us than previously and we will support anyone who is required to self isolate to do so.
The teams from education, public health infection protection and control, facilities management and home to school transport are at full pelt working alongside schools who are gearing up for a gradual return of pupils to school. No one is under any illusions how important it is for our kids to get the best education possible and also how important it is for this to be done safely without exposing children, their families and staff to unnecessary risks. It’s a delicate balancing act.
Thank you to staff who have supported the reopening of our household waste recycling centres and the resumption of our bulk waste collection service including staff who have been deployed across to help manage the initial rush and lengthy queues outside sites. I hope this will also ease the load on our stellar waste crews who have worked throughout collecting greatly increased volumes on their weekly rounds, rightly dubbed heroes by grateful residents. Thank you to highways staff, city and town centre staff and wardens who are working to create safe town and city centres as more retail reopens.
As you know we are gradually safely stepping up more of our front line services whilst encouraging staff who can work from home still to do so until it makes sense to do otherwise. But some services will take longer to recover and we will continue to support and redeploy staff who cannot resume their normal jobs.
This is not an easy time. We are still managing a crisis. We are easing our way out of lockdown. We are thinking and planning for the longer term journey back to greater prosperity for the people of the district. The future is uncertain. The energy, commitment and passion we have for this place keeps me going and will take us forward. And when it gets tough I find this short poem by Lemn Sissay a comfort:
‘How do you do it?’ said night
‘How do you wake and shine?’
‘I keep it simple’ said light
‘One day at a time’