Coronavirus: 'I was happy to swap a leisure centre for a bin lorry'

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

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image copyrightDumfries and Galloway Council
image captionIan Hall (left) says he is enjoying his new job

Ian Hall has swapped life working in a leisure centre for a job emptying bins. He is one of many council workers across the country who have been redeployed to new frontline roles following the coronavirus outbreak.

Ian usually works in the fitness team at the multi-million pound DG1 leisure centre in Dumfries.

But when the facility closed a few weeks ago, Dumfries and Galloway Council asked employees who were not in the "at risk" category if they would volunteer to help fill positions in frontline jobs.

Ian, from Annan, was one of those who agreed to take up a new post.

"I offered my skills to be used wherever they are needed most," he said.

image copyrightDumfries and Galloway Council
image captionIan usually works as part of the fitness team at DG1

"The decision was made to deploy staff to essential positions where possible, and I was initially assigned to support the community hub in Annan.

"However, there was a greater need for me to work in waste collection, and I was happy to help."

Ian said he was starting to get used to his new routine and was enjoying working with colleagues from a different council department.

"We're following government guidelines for social distancing and using hand sanitiser and sanitiser wipes on all equipment that we use," he explained.

"We are also supplied with PPE (personal protective equipment)."

image captionThe DG1 leisure centre in Dumfries has been closed

Ian added that his new role had been something of an eye-opener.

"The people I've been working with have been showing me the ropes and keeping me right, but there's no time to dilly-dally as the job needs to be done," he said.

"I have a new respect for the people that come and empty our bins daily, as the majority of bins are full and weigh a lot.

"It's surprising how much people can squeeze into a wheelie bin."

He also had a message for the wider public.

"While being out on the refuse wagon I've seen a lot of people still not following the correct social distancing measure to keep two metres (6ft) apart from others," he said.

"I would please urge everyone to try their best to follow the advice, so we can help stop the spread of this virus and get back to normality a little bit quicker."

It would also allow him to leave the bin lorry behind and return to more familiar surroundings.