STAFF at Scotland’s largest housing, care and property management group have been praised for their “herculean” efforts in supporting the people they work for to combat the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Tributes have been paid by both the Chair of Wheatley Group – the UK’s largest builder of social-rented homes – and a senior union official, who said UNISON members had made a “seemingly effortless transition” to the new service model designed and adopted as a response to the pandemic.
Wheatley, adhering strictly to Scottish Government and NHS safe working and social distance measures, is providing a restricted range of emergency and essential services to the 92,000 homes it owns and manages, and the 2750 people a week it supports through its care services.
All of Wheatley’s housing officers, along with customer service advisors, business support staff and others from across the business, have been fully equipped to work from home.
Wheatley Group responses to the Covid-19 crisis have also included a £100,000 donation to the charity Social Bite to help fund its food delivery service and handing over more than 170 empty homes to local authorities to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people.
Wheatley Group Chair Alastair MacNish said staff had shown “remarkable flexibility, agility and outstanding dedication”. He added: “The commitment and Think Yes attitude of Wheatley employees never fails to amaze and impress me. I am proud of their herculean efforts in these most difficult of times.”
UNISON Housing and Care Scotland Branch Secretary Paul Stuart said: “We are immensely proud of our members within Wheatley Group for their seemingly effortless transition from what was normal working to what is now the ‘new normal’, for all of us.In addition, we also have members doing different roles to what they would ordinarily be doing, all in an effort to ensure service delivery is maintained across the group.”
Mr MacNish, a former Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council and Chair of the Accounts Commission and Audit Scotland went on to thank UNISON for joining Wheatley contractors and suppliers in making a significant financial donation to the group’s hugely-expanded EatWell service.
EatWell has delivered almost 9000 emergency food packages to vulnerable households from Balloch in the west to Leith in the east, and from Kirkcaldy to Dumfries and Galloway.
Mr Stuart added: “It is this unwavering commitment and desire by our members to ensure that Wheatley Group’s most vulnerable customers are not left behind that we made the donation to EatWell in the name of Housing and Care Scotland branch members.”
UNISON also praised Wheatley for ensuring staff were properly and safely equipped to continue working and supporting the people it works for during the pandemic.
“It is important to recognise that the members would not be able to deliver such high levels of service without the relevant PPE and protections being in place from the employer at the outset,” said Mr Stuart. “I am pleased that members have access to what they need, when they need it, with no exceptions.”