For so many companies coronavirus has brought the need to adapt and in many circumstances change their line of work to help support communities across Northern Ireland.
Under normal circumstances the metering team at NIE Networks would call with customers on a regular basis to read or install electricity meters, but during lockdown the teams were unable to enter premises and so offered their time to volunteer in a number of new and innovative roles.
Manufacturing face visors for care home employees
Metering electricians manufactured simple face visors for domiciliary staff working in care homes. Using materials donated from local companies, and with such a high demand for the equipment the team 10,000 face shields.
Barry O’Lone, who normally manages a team of meter recertification electricians across Northern and has been working for the company for five years, said;
“Many of our colleagues are still carrying out the essential work that is required to keep the electricity flowing and so when our normal work of reading or repairing meters came to end to protect customers and staff, putting our time to valuable use was very important to us.
“We wanted to do our bit to support other key workers and our communities, so making the visors for the heroes working in care homes has been an incredible way to make just a small contribution. We know PPE is so important for those on the frontline of healthcare and it’s in short supply, so we hope the visors will go some way to ensuring their safety.”
On the road for deliveries
The volunteering doesn’t end there and the teams have also now taken to the road as a collection and delivery service for prescription and grocery supplies.
Gary Robinson, who normally reads meters in the Craigavon area, said;
“So far we have been able to support those most in need, including the elderly and vulnerable, across lots of communities including Belfast, Armagh, Lurgan, Omagh and beyond. Our employees have been matched with their local pharmacies and our aim is to complete over 700 deliveries per week."
“We are used to seeing our customers regularly so delivering essential food and medical supplies has given our customer service a whole new lease of life and to be honest we are getting so much more out of it than we will ever put in. Seeing an elderly or vulnerable customer and how much they need and appreciate the support is an amazing reward.”