30 April 2020

Essential sector in trying times

President foreword | PPC99 May 2020

I’m sure you’re all thoroughly fed up of hearing phrases like ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘key workers’ by now, but I do think it’s worth us all taking the time to reflect on what that means.

We work in an essential sector. The work we do protects lives and keeps society functioning. Farm to fork, hospital ward to homestead - we have a key role to play protecting public health.

BPCA was the first organisation to stick a hand up and shout that our members are key workers.

After many letters, phone calls and late nights, I’m pleased to say that the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Assembly recognise us as such.

We hope Wales will soon follow, and Scotland has a slightly different system that already seems to cover us.

Further working restrictions now seem unlikely, however beyond the lockdown and long after the pandemic ends, the recognition will remain.

Being essential in an emergency brings our professionalism to the fore. From the comments I’ve seen and the stories I’ve heard, our community seems to have stood up to the test of these ‘unprecedented times’.

I want to use my space in PPC this time to thank BPCA members.

Thank you for your words of encouragement to the Staff team, which has been working hard to provide support and guidance to the sector.

Thank you to everyone that wrote to their MPs asking for support in our campaign to be recognised as key workers.

Thank you to those who shared templates, letters and ideas to help support other businesses.

Thank you to everyone that asked after the health of our Staff team. They’re all still in good health, however three members of the team have now been furloughed. The rest are working safely from home.

Thank you for taking the pandemic seriously and asking for support when you need it. I know that, in uncertain times, having someone else to talk to can make a world of difference.

As an SME business owner myself, I know members will have had some tricky decisions to make. How do you keep your team safe? What jobs should you take? Should you furlough some workers?

Our survey suggests that about 90% of BPCA members have continued to protect public health in some shape or form during the pandemic.

75% of us have seen contracts cancelled or suspended, while 44% of us working in this sector say the pandemic has affected their mental health.

You’re not alone. In times of crisis, we turn to our families and respective communities.

BPCA is the home of professional pest management. Reach out to the team, ask for support when you need it, and give support where you can.

‘We’re all in this together’ is another cliche I’ve heard bandied about. And while we should all look out for one another, it’s not true that the virus affects us all equally.

It affects the most vulnerable in society the most: the sick and elderly; low wage workers on checkouts in supermarkets; and cleaning staff in hospital wards.

Furloughed bar workers and shop assistants are already struggling to get by. Small business owners, sole traders and other tradespeople will see their work come to a complete halt.

In a Government poll, just over 1 in 5 adults (22.9%) said Covid-19 was affecting their household finances, and over half (53.1%) said it was affecting their well-being.

I’ve heard amazing stories of members supporting those disproportionately affected by Covid-19. I ask that if you can do something, whether it’s a discounted treatment, a priority service, or just looking out for your community - please do.

When this is over, we can all celebrate what this ‘essential sector’ did in these ‘unprecedented times’.

Look after yourselves, your team and your communities. Stay safe.

Phil Halpin
BPCA President
Director, Countrywide Environmental Services

Source: PPC99