Wellbeing Wednesday - 24th February 2021

Jane Fowler
Jane Fowler - Head of Customer Support Services

Happy Wednesday everyone. This week we are looking for you to wear something pink on Friday for International Stand up to Bullying Day. We all know how damaging bullying can be to our wellbeing, but if each of us take action and stand up to bullying, we can make a real, positive difference.  We also have our first focus on one of our local community groups in this week’s edition – volunteering is so important in an area like ours and I know that many of you, as well as having busy work and family lives, are active and committed volunteers – thank you!

This week we have a big shout out to our colleagues in Roads and Infrastructure services - often overlooked, they really have been a critical essential service during the pandemic (and in normal times too) and we just want to let them know that we appreciate their hard work! Words of support and appreciation for our colleagues are so important to maintain our overall wellbeing, but when we are busy and dealing with uncertain times, it is sometimes easy to forget to acknowledge the hard work our colleagues do and say a simple thank you.

We’ve got some suggestions for indoor activities – whilst the snow has melted and the frost has thawed, it is still pretty blustery outside – so I hope that you find some inspiration from our suggestions – learn a musical instrument? Garden planning? Upcycling? I’ve been planning my garden over the last week or so – and as usual have got carried away buying seeds. These little packets of future promise are just irresistible. Whether they all grown or not is another story……

See you next week

International STAND UP to Bullying Day 2021 - Wear it Pink!

Stand Up to BullyingInternational STAND UP to Bullying Day takes place on February 26, 2021.  This is a special semi-annual event in which participants wear a pink shirt to take a visible, public stance against bullying.  The colour of the shirts is based on a campaign started by Travis Price and David Shepherd, two students who took a stand for a fellow student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.  International STAND UP to Bullying Day takes place in schools, workplaces, and organisations in 25 countries across the globe on the third Friday of November to coincide with Anti-bullying week, and then again on the last Friday of February.

There is no legal definition of bullying in the UK, but it is can be defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, and/or an abuse or misuse of power, which is intended to undermine, humiliate or physically injure someone.

Bullying can take many forms including:  

  • physical assault
  • social bullying
  • threatening behaviour 
  • name calling
  • ignoring or excluding someone
  • cyberbullying

There is no excuse for bullying and the impact of being bullied can be devastating and long-lasting.

Bullying Stops Here JumperAs an employer, the Council has a zero tolerance approach to bullying and our Dignity at Work policy and procedure provides information and advice on dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace and getting support. You can find more information on the policy and support available on The Hub, including information on the Employee Assistance Programme.

For colleagues who work in the Health and Social Care Partnership, as of January, you can access the  independent and confidential Guardian Service, which was first launched last year for NHS Highland staff.  The service is independent, external and strictly confidential and is for staff to discuss matters relating to service user care and safety, whistleblowing, bullying and harassment and workplace grievances.

The ‘Speak Up’ Guardian Service can be accessed 24/7 via 0333 577 5955 or by email at contact@theguardianservice.co.uk.  You can also find out more information on their website at www.theguardianservice.co.uk

So, shake out your pink t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, scarves or feather boas and STAND UP to Bullying on 26th February. 

Highlight on Community Organisations: Mid Argyll Transport Volunteers

Model of a bus

We have many community organisations in Argyll and Bute that complement the services delivered by the Council. Volunteering is an activity that we can choose to take part in and give something back. As we’ve said before in Wellbeing Wednesdays – helping someone else can often have a positive impact on your own wellbeing. One of our local community organisations it Mid Argyll Transport Volunteers in Ardrishaig, which  was set up in 1994 in response to a need at local level to enable clients to get to hospital and other appointments.  Since 2014, Catherine Kennedy has been the self-employed Co-ordinator for MATV, which is now a registered charity.   The service is free to users and is funded through donations.

In Argyll public transport is less frequent than in urban areas and without MATV many people with health conditions would be unable to get to their appointment on time and return home on the same day.   The local volunteer drivers use their own cars to transport clients to Glasgow, Oban and around the local Mid Argyll area.  

MATV goes from strength to strength and continues to be an integral part of the community. In 2014/15 they had 60 clients and 16 drivers, with 1,567 runs, covering over 45,000 miles.  In 2020 MATV helped over 500 clients and had 25 drivers.  During the Pandemic MATV responded to the changing needs with some drivers collecting prescriptions and shopping for existing clients who were shielding or self-isolating. In January 2021, MATV offered to transport clients for Covid Vaccination  appointments.  If you would like more information please contact Catherine Kennedy, MATV Transport Coordinator on 01546 603564

Appreciation for our colleagues!

Great job!

It was great to receive your appreciation for the Roads and Infrastructure Team and hearing from you as co-workers and service users was really interesting.  Here’s what you told us:

With the extra cold weather we have been having recently I have never been more appreciative of our local Roads and Infrastructure Services staff.  My wee boys always take great excitement in keeking out the window to see the big bin motor or the gritter with those flashing lights.  They wave and wave and the staff wave back just as enthusiastically!  To me this just sums up the care they have for our local community – out in all weathers - our roads are gritted, our grit bin full and our bins emptied and all done with a smile on their face and a big wave for their admirers.   Thank you!” Seona Laird

“Like many council employees, the admin team are working from home as much as they can.  Their jobs involve supporting and working with many of the services the council offer including burials, commercial waste, parking, invoicing, banking, procurement, finance to name just a few.  Many of the team still need to go into the offices across Argyll to access burial records and files, print, scan, do banking etc.  I am so proud of them.  Not only have they met the challenges of additional workload caused by Covid, they do an amazing job supporting each other, offering help to colleagues and have kept a positive can do attitude throughout.  I can honestly say it is a pleasure to work with my team and the wider team who support us.” Frances Millar

“I would like to say thank to refuse collectors who are always patient as I hear the lorry coming through the village, panic (as I’ve forgotten to put the bin out – again!) and then run to meet the lorry with the bin.  I appreciate they have a busy schedule and must get that a lot, but still always greet me with good humour! Thank you!” Kay Owen

It’s fair to say that Roads and Infrastructure Services have had a busy 12 months meeting challenges brought about by Covid.  These have included reacting quickly to make new arrangements for commercial waste, with many businesses adjusting their own operating arrangements, producing plans to improve processing of burial paperwork and also even handling an increase in parking administration over the summer period.

We all have so many demands on us just now in our working and personal lives that just keeping on top of things is a big achievement and can ask a lot of our resilience levels.  To hear of colleagues supporting each other and remaining positive feels so important especially at this time.

Indoor activities for the win!

While there’s nothing quite like a bracing walk to get the endorphins going, the weather has not quite been so favourable to that over the past few days.  This provides a perfect opportunity to share some of your suggestions for indoor activities to keep our bodies, minds (and other family members busy!) Here are some great weather-proof suggestions for activities that have been helping your wellbeing.

GuitarLearn to play a musical instrument

There are lots videos on YouTube or you could find a teacher doing online lessons.  This is doesn’t have to be expensive or mean taking delivery of a grand piano - I have a family member who is taking harmonica lessons.  You can also find some more information on the positive impact playing an instrument can have on the brain.

PlantsGarden Planning

If you are a gardener or thinking of starting, this is the time to start any indoor sowing and planning your fruit, veg or flower planting for spring.  A crafty way to get family members involved is to encourage them to take part in the planning and picking some of the plants that they like.  The RHS website has further interesting information on how gardening can help your health and wellbeing.

Reduce Reuse RecycleMending or upcycling

It can be hugely rewarding to give a broken or unused household item or clothing a new lease of life and there are lots of places online to find creative, decorative ideas.  This is a double win as by prolonging the life of these items we are saving them going to landfill.  You can find more information and inspiration on the Zero Waste Scotland website or for clothes upcycling and fabric mending you could start with the Love Your Clothes website.

Thank you for all your suggestions and positive feedback.  If we haven’t featured your idea yet, we will try do so over the coming weeks, but in the meantime please do keep sharing your ideas.  Email us at Wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk.