The CEO of charity Live Borders, which looks after many of the sports, leisure, culture and tourism facilities in the Scottish Borders, has praised the ‘extraordinary’ response of the organisation’s staff to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Since the lockdown began, many Live Borders staff members quickly adapted to support members of the local community in any way they could. This includes supporting front line workers; caring for buildings, pools, gyms and libraries; delivering online fitness videos; supporting care homes; and volunteering their own time and skills whilst furloughed, for example, to make PPE equipment for health professionals.
Speaking about their response, Live Borders CEO Ewan Jackson said:
“The profound effect of coronavirus was incredibly tough for Live Borders, as it was for many businesses. When the government told us to close all our services and stay closed, we had to react and adapt quickly, within the legal guidelines, in a way that would best protect the health, safety, wellbeing and cultural life of the communities we live in and work, and the services we provide – both in the immediate term and in the future. This, of course, forced us to make many difficult decisions, including furloughing staff.
“I am immensely proud of the extraordinary responses we’ve seen from Live Borders colleagues in every corner of the region at this time. Their actions will play a key role in ensuring we can come out of the crisis healthier, happier and stronger.
“We would like to thank all our staff, members, customers and service users for their patience as we manage our way through this pandemic. We are working hard to create a phased plan for recovery and are committed to doing everything possible to ensure that we come out of this crisis in as strong a position as we can, delivering great services that the community wants and needs. Having seen how well and how quickly my colleagues have adapted in this time of crisis, fills me with great hope for our future.”
Live Borders employees have contributed to Borders communities in various ways in response to the coronavirus crisis. Many have provided invaluable support to the region’s Childcare Hubs offering a haven for the children of essential workers and also to vulnerable children.
Speaking about her work supporting the teachers and additional needs assistants in school hubs, Anna McGregor from TriFitness said:
“I enjoy being in the hub, it’s kept me in a routine. It has been challenging at times, coaxing children to join in back in week one and two, but now they’ve come out of their shell more we are now trying to keep a lid on their excitement!”
Recently furloughed from the Heart of Hawick, design engineer James Maybury has been voluntarily leading the manufacture of NHS approved visors for front line workers and anyone who needs to deal with others closer than the two-metre minimum. Speaking of his involvement, James said: “We are supplying visors that are comfortable to wear all day to nursing homes, housing associations and the NHS. It is a real community, cottage industry with several sawing machinists working from home. We’re making in the region of 2000 a week.”
“Even though I have been teaching for over 10 years, the thought of teaching online in my home and not knowing how many were watching was very daunting. However I have fallen in love with it, and every time I film I become more confident. The feedback I have received from my members that normally attend classes, and also from people that haven’t done a class before, has been overwhelming and to hear it’s helped a lot of people during the lockdown has meant a lot.”
Library staff have been working hard to ensure this a fantastic range of free resources, including ebooks, emagazines and comics, available on the website www.liveborders.org.uk.
Speaking about the service, Jason Moyes, Senior Creative Programming Officer at Live Borders said:
“Our digital library is growing all the time. We have made it even easier to join the library via our website and produced a couple of short videos to help people make the best of this free service. We are doing what we can to support those who normally borrow books from their local library to try out the service.”
A skilled team of Live Borders employees continue to care for buildings, pools, gyms and libraries. Speaking about his work during the lockdown, Dez Wilson said:
“We have been travelling around our 60 plus sites checking the security and making sure all buildings safe and operating. It’s very strange to be in the normally bustling buildings right now. It does, however, allow us to detect anything untoward. We can see and hear everything! On a visit to one of our museums, we’re positive one of the mannequins moved!”
The charity is also continuing to share content about their culture, heritage and visitor attractions, including Jim Clark Motorsport Museum and the new Great Tapestry of Scotland so that all these attractions remain front of mind for those who will visit the Borders and wider Scotland when it is safe to do so. This includes developing digital activities that people can enjoy from home and sharing information or images that encourage people to ‘dream now, plan later.’
In addition to this, a team of local volunteers continue to stitch the welcome panels for the new Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor centre from their homes and the development of a temporary launch exhibit for the centre opening spring 2021 is underway.
For the latest news from Live Borders visit www.liveborders.org.uk