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New Samaritans ‘call back’ service launches for staff

Wednesday 13 January 2021

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new service today (Wednesday 13 January) to support the mental health and wellbeing of council employees.

The council has teamed up with The Samaritans in Liverpool and Merseyside to offer a 24 hour ‘call back service’ – a brand new initiative, the first of its kind in the UK, which is designed to help any member of staff who needs to talk to someone if they are struggling mentally.

You can get in touch with Samaritans about anything that’s troubling you. It doesn’t matter how big or small the issue.

To access the service, all you need to do is complete their confidential online referral form giving your first name, a contact number, and the date/time (within a two hour window) you would prefer a call back, plus a short description of your concerns.

Complete a Samaritans 24 hour call back referral

Your form is sent directly to the Samaritans and at no point shared with anyone in the council. The Samaritans do keep a record of calls but don’t identify/keep individual’s details.

Managers/employees can also complete the form and refer a colleague on their behalf for a call back. Please make sure you have your colleague’s permission to do this.

There is no time limit on the call back you receive – you can take as long as you need to with a trained Samaritans listener. You can also ask for ongoing support, by way of a daily or weekly scheduled call, if you need it.

Anyone who needs URGENT support from the Samaritans should not use the call back service, but instead call the national helpline on 116 123.

The service was successfully piloted in Careline and the Contact Centre before Christmas and is now being rolled out across the whole organisation.

Director of Public Health Matt Ashton said: “I’m proud of how council staff have coped with the Covid pandemic, supporting our vulnerable residents and doing their best for the city over the past ten months. But I understand how stressful and hard it’s been at times – I have felt it too. That’s why I’m delighted we can offer this service to staff through The Samaritans, showing just how much we value and care about the health and wellbeing of our staff. For anyone who is finding life tough at the moment, at home or in work, please don’t hesitate to use this service.”

Rachel Howley, Development Manager for Samaritans of Liverpool and Merseyside said: “The Samaritans is a Listening Service: there is no judgement, no pressure and the aim is to help the caller work through whatever is on their mind. Samaritans are not there to tell the caller what to do. Council staff can ask for a callback on anything – from relationships, sexuality, anxiety, bereavement, workplace worries, painful physical conditions, loneliness or isolation. We’re ready to listen and ready to support.”

Staff are also reminded that they can also contact one of the council’s mental health and wellbeing champions, speak to your line manager or a trusted colleague, or one of the many national/local mental health support services. Please see the Live Your Life Well website and a list of mental health charities on the NHS website. There are also a wealth of free health and wellbeing courses available through the LearningHUB.

Don't let this pass you by - IIP online survey

Monday 11 January

The final assessment year launched on Tuesday 6 January with all staff being invited by email from Investors in People to complete a short online survey.

So far over 700 responses have been received. A big thank you to those of you who have shared your views.

For those who have not yet completed the survey please have your say and be open and honest. Your opinions matter - and will help us improve as an organisation.

All staff are encouraged to participate.

The survey is completely confidential. It is hosted by IIP outside of the council and results are only viewed by external assessors.

Don't delay, respond today. The survey closes on Tuesday 19 January.

Managers of offline staff

If you manage staff that don’t have access to a work device, please ensure they also get involved with the IIP assessment.

To enable offline staff to take part in the survey managers are asked to contact for an open access link which you can send out to each member of staff. Please note, you will need to request one link per member of staff as it can only be used once.

Lockdown: update for staff

Thursday 7 January 2021

Dear colleague,

Now that a national lockdown is in place for England, and everyone is being asked to stay at home and only leave when necessary, this is our advice to staff.

Working from home

Our working from home position remains unchanged from November. All staff who can work from home effectively, should work from home.

However, staff in frontline roles and anyone who cannot work effectively from home, or wishes to attend one of our workplaces for personal reasons, can attend the workplace as normal, as our workplaces are Covid-secure. Please make sure you continue to comply with our protocols on safe working, and carry your council ID badge when you leave home/return, in case you are asked to produce it.

A reminder that each of our workplaces has a building risk assessment which can you read online.

The default position on meetings and interviews is that these should be carried out virtually wherever possible. In the event that a virtual meeting or interview is not possible or practical, normal safe working protocols, including social distancing, must be observed.

This advice will be kept under review but is expected to be in place until at least mid-February.

Clinically extremely vulnerable staff/very high risk

Shielding is being brought back by the Government, and letters will be sent to those affected shortly. Advice for extremely vulnerable people is on our website.

For any staff who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, or very high risk following a risk assessment, we would advise you to discuss your working arrangements with your line manager, but in general, the advice is you should not attend the workplace until further notice.

Managers should revisit the Covid age risk assessments, downloadable from the intranet, for any staff who fall into this category, and discuss any required changes to duties/roles during this period. If managers need any advice, they should email or raise it with their HR Business Partner in the first instance.

Working parents/home schooling

During the period of national lockdown, schools, alternative provision, special schools, and colleges will remain open to vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers only. All other children and students will learn remotely until February half-term.

If you are not sure whether you classify as a critical worker, please ask your line manager.

Please discuss your working arrangements with your line manager if you have childcare responsibilities.

Managers are asked to be as flexible as possible around working hours for parents/carers juggling working, home schooling and caring for their children.

Mental health and wellbeing

If you are struggling with your mental health during this period, please do reach out for support. You can contact one of the council’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Champions, speak to your line manager or a trusted colleague, or contact one of the many national/local mental health support services. Please see the Live Your Life Well website and a list of mental health charities on the NHS website.
You are not alone and it is ok, to not be ok.

Thank you to all our staff for their continued hard work and commitment during these trying times. 

Staff survey for IIP assessment

Monday 4 January 2021

An Investors in People Staff Survey will land in colleagues' inboxes on Tuesday (5 January) - as part of our final year assessment. Find out more...

The final Investors in People (IIP) review is underway and over the next eight weeks, assessment activities will include a staff survey, interviews with a selection of staff from across the organisation, observations and leadership discussions.

The IIP staff survey launched on Tuesday 5 January and all staff with a Liverpool City Council email address will have been sent a link to complete the survey online. You are all encouraged to respond and have your say. 

For staff using VDI, please check your ‘other’ rather than ‘focussed’ mailbox to locate the email. Read advice on how to do this.

For those staff that don’t have access to a work email/device, managers will be provided with details that can be shared so offline staff can get involved and the details will also be shared on the extranet.

You may also be invited to an IIP interview or focus group to support the IIP assessment. 

These will be hosted mainly online either by Teams or Zoom. Staff are randomly selected by IIP so please do your best to take part - managers are encouraged to support staff to participate.

Please be open and honest in answering questions to help us work to improve what we do. There are no right or wrong answers and our internal reviewers will do their best to ask questions in a way you will understand. The interviews will take no more than an hour and will be completely confidential.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. 

If you have any questions or queries please contact

Investors in People: Final assessment year

Tuesday 22 December 2020

The final IIP assessment year kick-starts in January 2021 and your involvement in the process will be key. Read on to find out more....

Liverpool City Council has proudly held the Investors in People Standard (IIP) since 2003. We were last formally accredited in October 2017 and we have continued to take part in smaller annual reviews as part of a three-year rolling assessment, resulting in maintaining our ‘accredited’ status. 

The assessment this year will consist of a staff survey launching early January 2021, interviews and focus groups (carried out virtually by teams or zoom) with a selection of staff from across the organisation, observations and leadership discussions. A team of council staff have been trained as Internal Reviewers and they will conduct interviews and focus groups under the guidance of the IIP Lead Assessor.

Updates will be shared over the coming weeks, in the meantime, if you are invited to complete the staff survey and take part in an interview or focus group, please make sure you participate and provide honest feedback. Managers are encouraged to provide support, so staff can participate in the IIP assessment.

The outcomes (expected in February 2021) will help us to continue to focus on areas we need to improve, as well as helping us to transform the council and our workforce, as part of delivering the City Plan.

Chief Executive, Tony Reeves, said: "We have made the decision to proceed with the final year assessment, as we are committed to our workforce and developing our staff.  This is the final year of the assessment in which have invested time providing evidence and we want to continue to use the opportunity to gain impartial feedback on what we need to do to improve as an organisation to ensure we are doing the best for our staff. 

"The outcome of the assessment will enable us to hold the IIP accreditation for a further three years. Going forward, we will explore other suitable accreditations and alternatives to review what’s current and appropriate, to enable us to demonstrate that we are a great employer, we engage with workforce and we have your best interests at heart."

What is Investors in People?

The IIP standard sets out the criteria for high performance through people management and was first introduced by the UK Government in 1991. It consists of a simple framework to benchmark the effectiveness of leadership and management practices within organisations. Successful accreditation demonstrates the sign of a great employer, an outperforming place to work and a clear commitment to sustainability. 

IIP measures an organisation against three performance themes: Leading, Supporting and Improving which are assessed as part of the accreditation process. Find out more about the standard and themes here

For further information please contact

Return to work update

Tuesday 1 December 2020, 11am

While Liverpool’s rate of Covid infections has dropped, and the city enters Tier 2 restrictions on Wednesday, our position on staff working from the office/home remains unchanged.

Back in September we announced we were pausing the return of office-based staff to the workplace, in light of the rise in Covid infections across the city.

The pause put a halt to our plans to bring back 50% of our workforce in September. It applied to all council workplaces and was agreed by the trade unions.

Although the rate of infection since then has dropped significantly, our ‘pause’ remains in place. The advice to staff therefore remains the same as before:

  • If you / your team has not yet returned to the office, please continue to work from home until we advise otherwise.
  • If your team has already returned to the workplace, you can carry on with this arrangement only if you are working on a rota basis and numbers in the workplace will remain the same week on week. If you are planning to bring more colleagues back in, these plans need to pause.
  • If you would like to return to working from home and your job allows you to do so, please discuss this in the first instance with your line manager.
  • As a general principle, we are not insisting that anyone attends the workplace at the moment if you can do your job as effectively from home and this is agreed with your line manager.
  • If you have returned to the workplace and would like to continue to do so for personal reasons, you can carry on attending as normal, as our workplaces are Covid-safe spaces.

Normal duties are unaffected by this change as long as they are carried out in line with our protocols on safe working, and this includes visits and meetings where required.

This advice will be kept under review.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) employees

Update: Monday 9 November

Important advice for employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19, or have been categorised as 'very high risk' through the council's risk assessment process

Liverpool residents who are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) to Covid-19 will be receiving a letter from the NHS giving advice about what they should and should not do during the national lockdown, which is in place until Wednesday 2 December.

If you receive a CEV letter, you must share this with your line manager.

For any of our employees who are classed as CEV, you are advised not to attend the workplace.

You should stay at home as much as possible but are encouraged to go outdoors for exercise and to attend health appointments. You can meet up with one other person from outside your household or support bubble for the purpose of outdoor exercise, but you should always observe social distancing.

You should not go shopping or to a pharmacy. Please register with to:
  • get access to priority supermarket deliveries
  • ask for someone to contact you about the local support that is available
  • update your details - for example, your address.
If you need to register your needs by phone, or have an urgent need, and do please call the council's emergency support line on 0151 233 3066. Lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. There is further advice on what CEV individuals should and shouldn't do on our website.

If you are not a Liverpool resident, please contact your local council who will have similar support lines in operation. You can also continue to access support from local charities and organisations, as well as NHS Volunteer Responders.

As well as helping with shopping and medicines delivery, NHS Volunteer Responders can help with a regular, friendly phone call, and transport to and from medical appointments. Call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support or visit the NHS Volunteer Responders website.

If you are able to work from home, you should do so. If adjustments to duties may be required, you should discuss these with your line manager.

If you are able to do your job from home, but currently don’t have the necessary equipment to do so, you should contact your line manager about this in the first instance.

Managers are expected to assess what IT/other equipment they have available and if necessary, prioritise the allocation of equipment based on need.

If your job cannot be done from home, regardless of any adjustments that could be made or equipment provided, you should remain at home and not attend work.

We will be actively seeking to provide alternative work for you in areas where we have an urgent need, which may involve working in a different team or service. If you have a permanent or fixed term contract with the council, you will continue to be paid your normal pay during the time you are away from the workplace.

If you are classed as CEV, but your job requires to attend the workplace and you wish to continue attending the workplace, your manager must carry out a Covid Risk Assessment with you. The purpose of this is to assess whether we can provide a safe working environment for you. If the outcome is that the risk is too great, you will be instructed to remain at home and we will actively seek to provide alternative work for you.

Household members

The restrictions outlined above do not apply to you if you do not have a CEV letter or a categorisation of Very High Risk. You should therefore follow the advice for any other employee during the lockdown and work from home where possible or attend the workplace if your job requires it.

If you are attending work, you should follow our Workplace Protocols at all times in the workplace and try to minimise close contact with the CEV person while at home.

Employees who are Very High Risk but do not have a CEV letter

If you have not received a CEV letter, but you have been categorised as Very High Risk in a Covid Risk Assessment, you should follow the advice above for employees who do have a CEV letter.

All employees who are attending the workplace

All employees who are attending the workplace should have been subject to a Covid Risk Assessment by now. If any remain outstanding, managers should take immediate steps to carry these out.

If you are attending the workplace and are asked by the Police why you are travelling, you simply need to show your LCC ID card and advise that you are travelling to work. Travelling to work is a legitimate reason and all of our employees who are attending work during the lockdown are classed as key workers.

All our Covid workplace safety measures, as set out in our Protocols, remain in place and should be observed at all times.

IMPORTANT: Staff asked to work from home where possible

From Thursday 5 November staff should return to home working if you can do your job at home effectively.

The Government has announced that England will return to a full national lockdown from 00.01am on Thursday 5 November.

As part of the lockdown, people are being advised to work from home if they can do so effectively.

Where possible you should return to home working from Thursday if you can do your job at home effectively.

If however you have personal reasons why you want to carry on coming into the office, you can continue to do so, with the approval of your line manager, as our buildings remain a Covid-safe space. You will not, however, be forced to attend the workplace during lockdown if you can do your job from home.

If you cannot work from home you must continue to attend the workplace as normal as long as you have not been classed as at high-risk from Covid. You should already have had a Covid Risk Assessment with your manager which will have indicated your level of risk if you contracted coronavirus. If you have not had an assessment, or your health circumstances have changed since your last one, please speak to your line manager as soon as possible.

People who are classed as being extremely clinically vulnerable, and who received a letter from the NHS at the start of lockdown in the Spring, will shortly receive a new letter from Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) advising them to take additional care and to remain at home where possible. If you are in this group and can carry out your role at home, please continue to do so. If the nature of your job means that you have to attend the workplace, your manager will need to carry out a Covid Risk Assessment, if one has not been done already, to assess the level of risk and take appropriate actions. In some cases, this will mean people cannot do their jobs and must stay at home. In those cases, we will be actively looking for alternative work for people to do while at home, wherever possible.

We will be following up this message with additional detail over the next couple of days.

We appreciate the coming weeks are offering us more uncertainty and restrictions.

The announcement of mass testing for the city is a positive step towards us lowering the number of cases in our communities. We would encourage you, as either a resident of Liverpool, or someone who travels into work in Liverpool, to get a test from Friday and urge your family and friends from the city to do the same.

Please remember that we are here for you if you are feeling worried or anxious about what the next few weeks hold. We have Mental Health and Wellbeing Champions who you can talk to, and who will signpost you to further support networks if you need it. We also run a clinic every Friday, led by our Occupational Health Nurse, where you can seek advice in a confidential environment. If you would prefer to seek help outside of work, we understand. Please visit Kind to your Mind for further advice.

Our mailboxes are on the move…

ICT is in the process of migrating everyone’s mailboxes to the ‘cloud’, as part of the roll-out of Microsoft 365. This is what YOU need to do…

ICT is moving everyone’s mailboxes from the old platform – Microsoft Exchange – to Microsoft 365’s Exchange Online Service.

Once done, you’ll have a much bigger mailbox with 100GB of storage, as well as other benefits like being able to access your emails at anytime, from anywhere, on any device with an internet connection. You’ll also be able to arrange Microsoft Teams Meetings directly from your calendar.

The move is already underway, and being done in service area groups of about 200-300 mailboxes each day.

The day before your mailbox is moved, you should receive an email from ICT telling you what to do.

Please make sure you follow the instructions carefully. We’ve summarised them below here:

• Make sure you’re registered with Microsoft’s Multi-Factor Authentication.

• Log out of Outlook by 6pm on the day your mailbox is due to be moved.

• The next working day, open up Outlook in the usual manner on your device/PC. Everything should look the same, your emails and personal folders should still be there.

• Follow the User Guide on moving the contents of your personal email folders - which you must do if you want to keep them. 

• You’ve got one week to move the contents of your personal folders to your upgraded mailbox - unless you are a Direct Access tablet/laptop user, in which case you’ll need to do it next time you’re in the office. 

• If you have a work mobile phone, you need to set up Microsoft 365 mail on your phone too – simply follow the instructions in the O365 Email Setup on Mobile User Guide.

If you have any issues whatsoever, our colleagues in ICT will be more than happy to help. Please contact them via the Userhub.

Thanks for your co-operation as we improve your ICT systems, to help us all work in smarter, more agile ways.


When and how to self-isolate

Tuesday 13 October

Please help protect our city and each other - follow the rules on when and how to self-isolate. 

Figures from SAGE (the government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies) show that less than 20% of people in England fully self-isolate when asked to do so. If we want to protect our city and each other, it is VITAL we do the right thing and self-isolate when necessary. 

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.

It's actually a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you do not self-isolate.

You MUST self-isolate immediately if:

You MUST NOT leave your home while self-isolating.

  • Don't go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can. Please discuss your working situation with your line manager. Managers - please check you've read the most recent Covid guidance we've issued.
  • Don't go on public transport or use taxis.
  • Don't go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home.
  • Don't have visitors in your home - except for people providing essential care.
  • Don't go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one.
  • Don't walk your dog - if your dog cannot exercise at home, you should ask someone outside of your household or support bubble to walk your dog for you. See the Government's Covid advice for people in England with animals

There's more on what to do on the NHS website

Test and Trace Support Payments

Got family or friends worrying about how to make ends meet, if they are told to self-isolate? Please make sure they know they may be entitled to financial support.

Find out more about Test and Trace support payments on our website.