Aberdeenshire Council, businesses, charities and volunteers have pulled together to support vulnerable residents, frontline workers and town centres during the COVID-19 lockdown and re-opening. Below are four short case studies demonstrating the local response effort in Aberdeenshire and what is being done to prepare for town centre recovery as businesses reopen.
The information was drawn from a range of sources, and submitted by Audrey Michie, Strategic Town Centre Executive, Aberdeenshire Council.
Collaborating to Ensure PPE Supply for Frontline Workers
At the onset of the pandemic, Aberdeenshire Council swiftly established manufacturing hubs to support the supply chain, ensuring sufficient PPE was available to protect frontline staff. Alongside procuring larger orders of PPE directly, it began working with local companies, charities, community groups and residents to ensure there were consistent supply and distribution. This included helping businesses re-purpose production lines, assist with 3d printers, which resulted in a steady flow of PPE products each week.
A social media campaign helped spread the appeal for PPE donations and manufacturing more widely. A warehousing and distribution function (Joint Equipment Centre) arranged collection of the PPE to ensure the stock reached frontline health & social care staff.
Aberdeenshire businesses investigated opportunities to repurpose production lines, where this was not possible, they donated time and resource. Staff from across Aberdeenshire council pulled together from Education, Economic Development, Area Manager Team, Live Life Aberdeenshire, Procurement and Health & Safety alongside colleagues from our Health & Social Care Partnership. These hubs have demonstrated outstanding initiative and teamwork during this very difficult time.
Meanwhile, Banff Academy is in the running to win an award after teachers and staff started making face masks for NHS frontline workers. Read more here.
Local Hotel Owner Works with Charities to Serve Free Meals to the Vulnerable
A collaboration of charities along with alocal hotel owner in the town of Macduff, came together at the start of lockdown to work together to contact the vulnerable, prepare meals and deliver them to each home.
Lillies Kindergarten, the Home Bakery Macduff, Brighter Horizons and the Knowes Hotel have pooled their resources to offer the service. Three fresh lunches a week were prepared, free of charge, for those who needed it most by the owner of the Knowes Hotel, Wayne Stewart.
The local skippers donated fresh prawns and fish straight off the boat, local farmers donated vegetables and potatoes, and traditional meals were prepared. Donations of food also flooded in from the community, and everything donated was delivered locally, to older members of the community and families connected to Lillies Kindergarten.
Aberdeenshire Phoenix Fund to Boost Town Centres
The Aberdeenshire Town Centres Phoenix Fund is a one-off grant which has been pulled together from regeneration reserves swiftly for 26 town centres across Aberdeenshire. This fund will support the re-boot of our town centre economies following the COVID-19 lockdown period.
As lockdown restrictions ease and businesses begin to re-open, we still do not know the impact on our town centre economies. The purpose of our town centres has not have changed, though we will be faced with new challenges. It is now important more than ever that our town centre leaders come together and collaborate in initiatives that can assist our businesses and the town centres thrive once again.
The Aberdeenshire Town Centres Phoenix Fund has been launched to get town centres back on their feet. And to start the discussions about how we support and re-imagine our town centre economies to improve experience, drive growth and collaboration and support future sustainability and resilience. The criteria of the fund are broad. We are looking for Business Associations or town centre leaders to become digital, to market their towns and to look at creative and innovative ways to kickstart the economy of their town centre.
Aberdeenshire Council Strategic Infrastructure Strategic Group
As lockdown restrictions started to lift, we realised there was an urgency for those businesses to get up and running again, especially those focusing on outdoor facilities/adaptions of outdoor space to phase in their operations. There will be various regulatory elements for these businesses to navigate, and the Council wanted to make that process as streamlined and stress-free as possible to assist those businesses in re-opening as soon as possible.
To enable this, a cross-service Infrastructure Strategic Group was set up. The remit of the group is to enable businesses wishing to re-open within Aberdeenshire to seek assistance, find relevant information and direct their enquiries to one space and to receive a ‘one council’ response. The group consists of all the necessary services within Infrastructure Services: (Economic Development, Licencing, Environmental Health and Trading Standards, Planning, Transportation, Roads & Landscape) including a representative from Legal Services.
This group has been dealing with enquiries strategically, making the process of re-opening as streamlined as possible and to reduce timescales on any necessary decision-making processes hopefully. A ‘one-stop’ mailbox where all enquiries can be deposited has been set up along with a dedicated web page for all relevant information. And a cross-service set of webinars were delivered to bring the businesses the information as they required it.