Reasons to be positive

This week Aberdeen City Council’s Urgent Business Committee will consider a report on the massive financial impact of COVID-19.

The figures have been aired – a cost of anywhere between £28 million and £90m depending on what support we get from the Scottish Government.

In June officers will bring forward options for how we might balance our books whilst continuing to deliver vital public services and care for our most vulnerable residents.

The task promises to test the resourcefulness of staff and the resolve of councillors as never before.

But that’s what the pandemic is doing – presenting challenge upon challenge, shaking comfortable assumptions, creating new norms.

While we steel ourselves for what is ahead, we should take huge encouragement from how we have responded to date. And it’s some of those figures we’d like to share in this blog, numbers which allow us to paint a picture of solidarity and hope.

Nearly 1,500  people have signed up to Scotland Cares national campaign to volunteer in Aberdeen in addition to hundreds of our own staff who are queuing up to provide back up for critical services.

The Council’s Crisis Support Line has already helped more than 10,000 vulnerable people, offering everything from emotional support to financial advice.

More than 1,000 food boxes have been delivered to disadvantaged communities and care provided for 500 youngsters.

The speed and breadth of the city’s response owes much to third sector partners – groups  like the Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), which in turn has worked with Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust, Instant Neighbour and 1Call Property Maintenance.

CFINE’s Chief Executive Lisa Duthie rightly observed that the pandemic has changed the way we work together. It is certainly accelerating the transformation envisaged by the Local Outcome Improvement Plan.

So while COVID-19 has altered our social and economic landscape, perhaps irrevocably, it has also confirmed that the path we were following is the correct one.

Partnership working, developing an agile workforce, dedicating resource to where it is needed most, putting people and place first – that has been the foundation of the Council’s Target Operating Model.

In setting a direction of travel for our city, we listened to those around us and harnessed their energy and imagination.

The response to COVID-19 is a reflection of that. It’s an affirmation of all that is great about Aberdeen.

We’ll be updating you after the Urgent Business Committee meeting, but in the meantime let’s look to the future with renewed heart.

There are unquestionably difficult times ahead. But for every person who steps forward to help or goes above and beyond, we have yet another reason to be positive.

During this pandemic, those numbers matter as much as any.