For so many companies coronavirus has brought the need to adapt and in many circumstances change their line of work to help support communities across Northern Ireland.
Under normal circumstances the metering team at NIE Networks would call with customers on a regular basis to read or install electricity meters, but the team is currently unable to enter premises and so have offered their time to volunteer in a number of new and innovative roles.
Over recent days the company’s metering electricians have been working to manufacture simple face visors for domiciliary staff working in care homes. Using materials donated from local companies, the team has already made 7,000 visors and with such a high demand for the equipment are aiming to produce 10,000 face shields by the end of the week.
Barry O’Lone, who normally manages a team of meter recertification electricians across Northern and has been working for the company for 5 years, said;
“Many of our colleagues are still carrying out the essential work that is required to keep the electricity flowing and so when our normal work of reading or repairing meters had to come to end to protect customers and staff, putting our time to valuable use was very important to us.
“We wanted to do our bit to support other key workers and our communities, so making the visors for the heroes working in care homes has been an incredible way to make just a small contribution. We know PPE is so important for those on the frontline of healthcare and it’s in short supply, so we hope the visors will go some way to ensuring their safety.”
The volunteering doesn’t end there and the teams have also now taken to the road as a collection and delivery service for prescription and grocery supplies.
Gary Robinson, who normally reads meters in the Craigavon area and has been working for us for 4 years, said;
“So far we have been able to support those most in need, including the elderly and vulnerable, across lots of communities including Belfast, Armagh, Lurgan, Omagh and beyond. A further 60 staff are currently being matched with their local pharmacy service so we hope to reach even further afield in the coming days and complete over 700 deliveries per week.
“We are used to seeing our customers regularly so delivering essential food and medical supplies has given our customer service a whole new lease of life and to be honest we are getting so much more out of it than we will ever put in. Seeing an elderly or vulnerable customer and how much they need and appreciate the support is an amazing reward.”
Although meter readers will not be visiting customers for a while customers can submit their own electricity meter reading to avoid an estimated bill. Customers will receive a reminder notification from NIE Networks or their supplier, to tell them what to do when their meter reading is due.
For further information please visit www.nienetworks.co.uk