Orkney Islands Council has started a campaign to highlight the selfless work some of its workers do in addition to their paid jobs.
The pandemic has brought out the community spirit in many people.
Those who go the extra mile to help others, to volunteer for local causes or to carry out charitable work at home or abroad.
The council has 2,700 staff – more than a quarter of the islands’ working population and over the next few days we will throw the spotlight on some of these everyday heroes.
Do you know of anyone doing something extraordinary who deserves to be recognised? Get in touch on email@example.com.
Orkney Islands Council interim chief executive John Mundell said: “I can say with confidence and pride that our workforce has gone above and beyond during these unprecedented times.
‘The pandemic has shown how fragile the world can be’
“This has been no mean feat. The unknown leads to fear. Uncertainty leads to fear. Change leads to fear and fear can lead to frustration.
“Our staff have had to deal with the public’s frustrations and have been impacted to some degree but continue to deal with this admirably.
“I, again, appeal for the wider public to remember that everyone is trying their best to continue to do their jobs while following the national guidance and restrictions whatever they may be at any given time.
“Orkney has built a reputation for looking out for one another – let’s not change that.”
Mr Mundell said throughout the pandemic, staff have responded with diligence, finding new innovative ways to connect and support each other and their communities.
This has ensured critical services have continued as far as practicable.
“The pandemic has shown how fragile the world can be and how we, as a local authority, should move forward. How we optimise what we do, make a more positive impact and change the way we work for the benefit of all.
“This campaign is about saying ‘thank you’ to all our staff for their tireless efforts. But it is also about reminding the public that council staff do a tremendous amount of volunteer and community work through their own choice. We want to ensure all our staff are valued and respected.”
The finance chief running a charity for deaf children in her spare time
Pat Robinson’s day job is chief finance officer with Orkney Health and Care, a partnership between the council and NHS Orkney.
She is part of a team involved in adult health and social care services, as well as children and criminal justice social work functions.
The organisations face the challenge of finding savings of £4.2 million from its £55 million budget.
But she and her husband Gareth run the Orkney Deaf Children’s Society which they set up in 2017.
Their daughter Eloise was born at 24 weeks and four days, weighing just 1lb 15 ½ ounces, in 2015.
She was given just a 50-50 chance of survival.
At five months, Eloise was diagnosed with profound hearing loss.
In 2017 she underwent surgery to fit cochlear implants which transmit sound waves to her brain to enable her to hear.
Now aged six, she has received intensive therapy and the family also use sign supported English to help communication.
Pat said: “I think people think that she will have no issues now.
“This is why we want to educate people that she can’t hear like us and the processors do amplify everything which can be very overwhelming. Without her equipment on she is 100% deaf.
Charity supports children of all ages
The charity is affiliated to the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) and supports children of all ages in the county and their families.
“When you have a deaf child meeting other parents of deaf children is vital so that you feel less alone and have someone to share your experiences with that really understands.
“We hope the local group is making a difference for deaf families in Orkney.”
After being quiet during the pandemic, it hopes to start thinking again soon about new events.
Previous outings include visits to an Alpaca Farm, the Longhope Lifeboat Museum, the Landmark Forest Adventure Park at Carrbridge and Nethybridge.
We hope the group is making a difference for deaf families.”
The charity also hosted a Santa Fun Run and held local events to allow the Orkney community to learn more about deaf awareness.
Pat added: “Once children or young people take off their hearing aids or implants they have little or no hearing. This can make communication more difficult meaning it can be harder to attend events.
“That’s why it is so beneficial to go on these group events as the instructors are experienced and take all needs into account.
“Deafness can affect any one of us or our loved ones at any time so to have a better understanding can alleviate some of those fears.”