As part of our #HereForDerby campaign we talk to Elizabeth Blaney about her role as DCC’s Food and Health and Safety Team Manager and how coronavirus has changed her job completely.
Usually the team are out and about in Derby working to make sure that the city’s businesses are safe, through health and safety and food hygiene inspections, following up complaints, and investigating workplace accidents and food poisoning outbreaks.
Elizabeth joined the council in 1999 and over 20 years later is still going strong with the same passion and drive, alongside many of the same colleagues, to make a difference to the public’s health.
She says: “I’m really proud that in Derby we’ve been running our Food Hygiene Rating scheme since 2012 and now have around 2200 businesses, around 80%, holding a rating of 5, compared to the national average of 65%. This is amazing for a City authority and certainly the result of many very hard-working businesses and my team of passionate officers.”
Coronavirus has completely changed the way the team works in the last few months. “It feels like I’m in a totally different role!” says Elizabeth.
“We have been mainly focused on making sure those premises that were told to close, actually closed. There’s been tremendous cooperation from most businesses and the public. For those essential businesses that could remain open, we’ve been there supporting them in implementing social distancing controls and now we’re helping to prepare those currently closed businesses for the re-opening challenges over the next few weeks.”
Things won’t be slowing down for the team any time soon either as they have now also started working with Public Health colleagues to work on contact tracing. She says that it’s been amazing to work with colleagues throughout the Council, who she would usually never work with and pull together as one to make a huge difference.
“Like everyone, I’ve had to adjust to new ways of working and challenges coronavirus has brought, but making a difference to public health is what I trained as an Environmental Health professional to do and I’ve never felt more than now that what I am doing is making a difference.
“Weirdly, I never thought I could miss sitting in the Council House as much as I have though. The jiggle-juggle of working from home, home schooling kids and keeping my dogs out of Skype calls has been very interesting. I even managed to get my first family of mice ever – how this happens to a health inspector I don’t know? They’ve been humanely caught, named and released to nature now though!”
Elizabeth concludes with a thank you and a reminder. She says: “Derby people have been fab, by following the government guidance and acting in a hugely sensible and responsible way, but if we are going to revert to how we lived before, we need to keep being sensible.
“When you venture out to businesses as they slowly start to re-open, follow the systems they have put in place, we all have a responsibility to help get us through.”