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Lewes engineering leader praised for COVID communication

A Lewes engineering leader has been recognised for top-notch communications with key workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

From Press releases - 24 September 2020 12:00 AM

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Bill Blackburn, operations manager for UK Power Networks on the Sussex Coast, was named ‘COVID Communicator’ at the company’s annual recognition awards. Colleagues said he kept them informed and reassured at a worrying time.

When government advice was to ‘stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS’, his teams had a crucial role to keep the power flowing to homes, businesses, hospitals, care homes and home offices. He ensured his management team had the latest information daily to share with staff, so they could safely carry out their essential roles.

Bill said: “I’m over the moon to receive this award because it was my colleagues who nominated me and that makes me feel I have done something really worthwhile, but it was very much a team effort.

“At a time when most people wanted to shut the blinds, pull the duvet over their heads and shut out the world we expected our staff to carry on responding to keeping the lights on and continue supporting our customers, even in situations where they were symptomatic. 

“We set out to keep our people up-to-date with a rapidly changing situation, particularly in the early stages, when people needed somewhere to go for reassurance. Everyone’s response to the pandemic is personal to them and so we needed to be patient and understanding. I have never known anything quite like this in my lifetime; a crisis that literally brought the nation to a standstill. We needed to ensure a continuous flow of verifiable information, in manageable quantities, so that our employees could keep themselves, their colleagues, their families and our customers safe.”

Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, said: “Communication with our workforce, whether working from home or working in the field, has been important and communication has had to be different to what we are normally used to.

“Managers have had to change the way they go about managing their teams because they are doing it remotely and the feedback I have had is that they have done a great job, so well done to all our managers.” 

UK Power Networks keeps power flowing for 8.3 million homes, businesses, schools and hospitals across the South East, London and East of England.