Sandie Keene, Leeds City Council’s Director of Adult Social Services shares a few thoughts about the upcoming Tour de France:
I’m still chuckling at the photos in this week’s newspapers. The iconic Black Prince statue in City Square, clad in a knitted yellow jersey, welcomes visitors coming to watch the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. And how fantastic that the jersey was made by older people attending Holt Park Active. There’s also the group of equally keen crochet experts from Holbeck Elderly Aid, who dressed one of the nymphs in a bright yellow woollen jumper too. It is so empowering that older people are able to make such a striking contribution to the landscape of our city for such an important day. One thing that has struck me forcibly in the run-up to the TdF is the inclusivity that has become embedded in the whole thing.
As well as the City Square jersey, service users at Laurel Bank have made the bunting that decorates the Barrel Man in Dortmund Square. Potternewton Fulfilling Lives, enviably located on the very route the race will take, has decorated its boundary with a striking display of yellow wheels, which will be seen by the cyclists themselves as they hurtle past.
There are TdF-related celebrations going on in all our homes and centres and the event is making a really great contribution to ensuring our service users, residents and customers can truly play their part in this historic event. But I know that fun is only half of it.
Massive preparations have gone into ensuring our vital services for vulnerable people go ahead despite road closures and pressures on the system created by thousands of visitors coming to see the Grand Depart. Some 618 of our staff will be supporting 1,619 service users in residential homes, day centres, supported living schemes, and people in their own homes through Community Support, SkILS and Community Meals. A further 260 commissioned care workers in the independent sector will also be out there delivering care and support. Staff are incredibly flexible – changing shifts, how they get to work, and moving leave arrangements around to ensure people get the services they need. In places expected to be particularly congested as Le Tour passes through, plans for care continuity have been coupled with the wish to share the carnival atmosphere, leading to many imaginative solutions.
One of our commissioned home care services, 24 7, will be mobilising local response units whose activities will be directed from its command centre: a VW camping bus complete with barbeque and other essential supplies! In places where the most challenges are expected, carers will be camping out overnight, enjoying the build-up and ensuring they are on the spot throughout the weekend. The Community Meals Service has completely re-planned its delivery route in the vicinity of the TdF, so than none has to cross the A61 on the day. Its vehicles will be carrying double crews and extra meals so they can sweep into areas of high congestion if a vehicle is gridlocked by departing spectators. The Emergency Duty Team will move from Westgate to Cross Green to beat the inevitable congestion in the city centre. Hospital based social work managers have worked with Health colleagues to ensure people being discharged from hospital who live near the route will have the support they need. Older people’s services have made sure there are extra beds available in Suffolk Court should there be any increased demand.
And a rapid response home care team will be out and about on 5 July ready to patch up any glitches in service caused by the race and its spectators. Staff at Spring Gardens residential home in Otley will be serving meals for a nearby sheltered housing scheme, where there would be problems in delivering meals at home on the day. I can only mention a few examples of the amazing and inspiring work that I know is going on all over.
Whatever you will be doing on TdF day – thank you.