Coronavirus

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How we are helping colleagues, customers and our community

How we are helping colleagues, customers and our community

At Electricity North West we have two overriding priorities, first the safety and welfare of our colleagues and customers and secondly the maintenance of power supplies to our customers. As a critical service provider, the majority of our colleagues are continuing to work throughout the pandemic to ensure that we manage the network that keeps the power flowing 24/7 into our homes, hospitals and essential businesses.

How we are supporting our colleagues

Our COVID-19 Steering Group coordinates our response to the pandemic as a business. We have continued to work very closely with our Trades Union partners to ensure that colleagues are given the best advice available, in line with Government guidelines.

  • Just under half of our employees have been working from home where appropriate, since March. Our employees remain working from home, with flexible solutions allowing them to balance home working with any childcare and caring responsibilities, to minimise the strain on schools staying open for key workers.

  • For those colleagues who cannot work from home we have ensured that they can adhere to social distancing while working in the office or on site, and we have provided additional sanitisers and PPE. We have increased cleaning regimes across all of our depots and offices and have also separated teams such as our contact and control centres across multiple sites and shifts.

  • In critical instances where employees need to enter customer premises for essential safety checks, we are phoning in advance to check that no-one in the property has symptoms or is self-isolating. Where customers are self-isolating due to exhibiting symptoms, we have issued specific policy guidance on PPE and access arrangements.

  • We have issued new guidance and procedures to ensure that colleagues can continue to work safely on the network and maintain social distancing, including when travelling in vehicles.

  • We have issued new guidance on assisting colleagues who start to exhibit symptoms whilst at work and guidance for colleagues with underlying medical conditions. The advice is reviewed daily in line with Government recommendations.

  • We are providing regular updates to colleagues, which also includes a clear focus on mental health and wellbeing and encouraging managers to check with their team regularly.

  • We have worked with our Trades Unions to agree an approach to leave and are encouraging colleagues to take some leave during the period of lockdown to ensure appropriate respite for colleagues and their families at this time and avoid an unmanageable holiday position in the latter half of the year.

  • We have established a dedicated coronavirus page on our intranet for colleagues to access all updates and collateral, including posters, videos, policies and guidance and travel certificates as well as links to other trusted sources of information. The page also links to a new coronavirus mental health and wellbeing page, which has updates and extra support for colleagues who could be struggling during these challenging times.


How we are supporting our customers

As we do 365 days a year, throughout the pandemic we’ll be monitoring and responding to issues across our whole network 24/7 to keep your power flowing, including responding to power cuts, wherever and whenever they happen.

  • We are continuing to manage the critical 24/7 service to our customers through our operations hub and contact centre ensuring that we continue to maintain essential power supplies.

  • We are continuing to promote our emergency 105 number enabling consumers to quickly report a power cut and provide priority services to those customers who may need additional support when they lose power.

  • At a time like this it’s vital that we continue to carry out maintenance and inspections on the power network, adding the resilience that we will all need over the coming weeks and months. We are a critical service and the work we do is fundamental to the country’s effort to managing this pandemic well. This means that we will have to continue to inspect cables, install new equipment, and cut back trees near to lines that can cause power cuts. For our engineers carrying out this critical role, unfortunately, there are certain situations where power must be removed from properties to allow our teams to work safely. All this work reduces the risk of unplanned power cuts in future.

  • Where planned interruptions are necessary we are aiming to keep them below five hours and provide a generator for any extended works or where customers need additional support.

  • Our engineers have supported the creation of the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West. They ensured the existing electrical infrastructure is able to support the new facility while a second reserve electricity supply was also installed along with additional assets to protect the new hospital’s power supply. As well as contributing to the creation of NHS Nightingale Hospital North West, Electricity North West engineers have carried out vital work to increase the electricity supply to Oaklands Hospital in Salford and protect the supplies to other critical and temporary healthcare facilities. and critical businesses (i.e. PPE manufacturers).

  • Although customers do not pay their bills directly to us, our customer service teams are experiencing an increase in the number of customers who are expressing concern over their ability to meet their bills in the near future. To support them and our customers, we have made key information from the supply companies available here.

     

How we are supporting our vulnerable customers and communities

We know that this situation can be extremely difficult for some of our customers and particularly those that have a greater dependence on electricity for health or medical reasons or suffer from isolation.

  • We have contacted thousands of our Priority Services Customers (PSR) via email, SMS and phone to check that they are ok and to update information including adding passwords and nominated contacts.
  • We are asking any self-isolating customers if they require any help, such as food packages and with their permission pass their details onto trusted partners or befriending services.

  • We continue to work with the Local Resilience Forums to help co-ordinate support and activity across the region alongside the local authorities and the emergency services.

  • We work with a large number of partners supporting vulnerable customers and we have been liaising with them closely to identify what services they can provide to our customers and this information has been made available to the customer contact centre staff to pass onto customers when required.

  • We are working with Business in the Community to promote the National Business Response Network which aims to coordinate, and broker community need with member businesses able to offer support.
  • We work closely with 21 organisations across the region to provide additional services to our customers in vulnerable circumstances. Our support has helped to provide over 2000 meals a week, and we have directly provided over 350 hours of volunteering time and £235,000 of funding.