Wirral Council and partners announced as finalists in 2021 MJ awards

Wirral Council and partners have been shortlisted alongside some fantastic organisations for the Care and Health Integration Award at this year’s Municipal Journal Awards.

The partnership is being commended for their role in ‘The Wuhan Repatriation’, when dozens of UK citizens were repatriated to the country near the start of the Coronavirus pandemic last year.

In late January 2020, prior to the declaration of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic status, Wirral Council were approached by Central Government with the request that arrangements be put in place to repatriate, isolate, and support 94 UK citizens from the Wuhan area in China.

With just two days’ notice, the Council coordinated a major humanitarian response, overseen by leaders within a number of partner organisations.

The efforts of partners were wide and varied and included preparing appropriate accommodation and infrastructure, arranging catering and communications provisions alongside a host of emotional and mental wellbeing support in place for the guests.

Janette Williamson, Leader of Wirral Council, said, “Many residents will remember where they were when Wirral was announced as host the country’s first quarantine site for more than 40 years.

“Within hours, dozens of health, care and community organisations had sprung into action to begin a remarkable humanitarian effort to host these visitors swiftly, and safely.

“Our care and health services and our third sector partners stepped up to the plate and really came into their own. All organisations came together as one and responded with humanity, dignity and understanding to the emerging situation.

“Staff put their own needs and their anxieties to one side and absolutely delivered the best that they could to support the guests. I’d like to personally thank our staff, our volunteers and our residents for the part they played.

“The pace with which the Council and other services adapted to this unprecedented situation was astonishing and remains something that those involved and indeed all who live and work in Wirral should be proud of.”

As this was the first UK response to COVID-19, the blueprint and model for mobilising such a response was locally driven in its creation and delivery from start to finish.

Janelle Holmes, Chief Executive at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, said, “This was a local response, driven by local people from the beginning.

“While we didn’t know as much as we do now about the virus; our partners, our communities and our residents worked together to support our repatriated guests at a potentially frightening and uncertain time. The generosity of the public, both locally and from further afield, was so humbling. It made such a difference and was an extremely kind and thoughtful gesture.

“Our staff supporting the guests during their quarantine worked tirelessly and with the dedication that they have gone on to continue throughout the pandemic. Communication was also vital and daily bulletins were introduced to keep guests informed and alleviate fears about the evolving situation outside of their quarantine.

“The multidisciplinary team was extremely proud of the fact that all the guests left the site after 14 days in quarantine with a clean bill of health. Many of the guests sent in cards or letters of thanks for the care and compassionate support they were given.”

One of the guests expressed their thanks with the following note which they displayed in the accommodation block and shared with the local, regional and national media:

“I didn’t want to leave without expressing my deepest gratitude for what you have done for us over these past two weeks. I arrived as a potential carrier of a deadly virus. I was a little anxious as to how I would be received. I needn’t have been. You greeted us warmly with gifts, cards and flowers and smiles. You made us feel welcome. In our time of turmoil, you took care of us with compassion and professionalism. The experience has been humbling. Not once did I feel you didn’t have enough time to speak to me or help me. You proactively sought to make my confinement here more comfortable. I am one of the 83 but I am sure my sentiment is shared by us all. Thank you.”

Janelle Holmes continued, “Without a doubt, there has been some remarkable work taking place across Wirral during the crisis.

“Moving into a recovery phase, provides us with an ideal opportunity to take stock and learn from the best practice and positive outcomes that have been achieved, as well as recognising and celebrating the incredible work that has been delivered over the last 18 months.”

Read more about Wirral and other finalists here: https://awards.themj.co.uk/

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