The Covid-19 response by Inverclyde Council and the efforts in fellow public services has been immense. Councils have been flexible, creative, and responsive in continuing to deliver and adapt services to meet the needs of our community.
Councils have never shut down. For many it has been a case of changed working practices and for some occupation groups such as home carers, school support workers, early years workers, ASN’s, to name a few, it has been business as usual. For other staff, there work has become digitalised, but they are delivering the same level of productivity from home. In all cases, Council staff are overcoming hurdles to en- sure the community of Inverclyde receive as much service as possible within the restrictions placed on them.
UNISON launched its No Going Back To Normal Campaign in 2020 as the public suddenly began to realise that Key workers, who are normally on the lowest pay and with poor job security, are actually the people who hold up the economy up. Local Government delivers many ‘key’ services that the public have come to rely without very much appreciation of the costs and complex logistics required to deliver them.
The media may have a hand in this, UNISON Inverclyde was disappointed by the BBC documentary on Inverclyde ‘Scotland’s Covid Capital’ which, in our view failed to recognise the key workers in public services that have been at the front line of addressing both the spread of Covid 19 and the poverty coinciding with it.
During the documentary the BBC talked up the spontaneous community/voluntary response, whilst forgetting to mention the level of delivery Inverclyde Council and partners maintained to address these same issues. We believe this is part of a media narrative that under promotes the roles of councils and its partners to its detriment.
UNISON Inverclyde are planning on running a ‘No Going Back To Normal Campaign’ which will look into the key services and workers to show the scale of the service and the vital benefits the Council delivers.
The first service/workforce we will be promoting is Early Years. Inverclyde Council, despite the challenges of Covid-19, went ahead with its 1140hrs expansion which doubled the amount free early learning and childcare (ELC) available to parents from ages 3 to 5. In addition, there was an expansion of places for children 0 – 3 years which means that over 200 children aged 0 – 2 years now benefit from ELC. On top of this Inverclyde Council also delivered its expansion of Free School Meals to under 5s.
The logistical difficulties were huge and couldn’t have been done without
the significant commitment, enthusiasm and skill of the ELC workforce who have continued to provide the highest quality of ELC to children and families across Inverclyde. Inverclyde Council has approximately 1500 children in its EY services, funded providers including nurseries and childminders. The expansion involved a huge effort to recruit and train new staff, undertake the of building new centres, expanding others, and the introduction of an outdoor learning model. The free meals expansion has also been an enormous logistical effort, with up to 1300 meals being delivered to early years children per day.
This infrastructure plays a massive role in our local economy. Most parents and employers realise that without proper childcare infrastructure many parents simply can’t make it work. Additional childcare has proven benefits, investment in children’s early years has lifelong benefits to education, health and well being which prevents the need for more intensives services when they are older.