Biscuits, smiles, and thank you notes: how the public has supported bin crews through the pandemic
There are a few things we’ve all got used to when we put the bins out: cleaning the handles, making sure the road is clear for the trucks… and saying ‘thank you’ to the hardworking crews.
Throughout 2020 (and so far in 2021!) bin crews up and down the country have continued working tirelessly to keep our collections going. Alongside the usual early starts and tricky weather conditions, they’ve had lots to contend with this year, but have tried to keep services as normal as possible, keeping going through the hardest points of the pandemic.
We asked some of the local authorities across England to share their stories with us of how the crews have coped, and how residents have helped to keep their spirits up. Here are some of the heart-warming responses we got, showing that a small act of kindness can go a long way.
Kent Resource Partnership
Here were some of the kind words they received:
“Whilst it can be a thankless job, rest assured we take your amazing service not for granted, but revel in your ability to do it in rain, sleet, snow, or pandemic! Keep up the great work.”
“To the lovely bin collectors of Staplehurst, thank you so much for working so hard for us all. We really appreciate it!”
“A big thank you to all your team! Where would we be without you!”
North Lincolnshire Council
John from North Lincolnshire has also felt encouraged by kind gestures and words from the public, despite how hard this last year has been. “I’ve never known such a hard, challenging time doing this job as during the pandemic. It’s brought extra loads, more weight to pick up, long hours – it’s been mentally and physically challenging for all of us. But the public has been absolutely fantastic for keeping morale up. These are challenging times not just here but everywhere, and that’s what keeps us going.”
John also mentioned that the practicalities of the job have had to change, including staggering times for coming in and visiting the refuse centres in order to keep people separate.
For his colleagues Billy and Leigh, the obstacles of 2020 have had the silver lining of bringing the team together, through the shared experience of working through the pandemic. They also said that the public have been interacting with them more and have shown more patience.
“People have learned to talk to us and understand what we do for them. We’ve been doing our best for the community, and people have been helpful to us – showing their generosity and gratitude by saying thank you, giving us packs of biscuits and drinks when it’s been hot. They’ve also been asking us how we are and saying ‘hope you are okay’.”
Joe from Buckinghamshire told us that their work has increased since the pandemic began, with teams pulling an extra 2.5 tons a day on average in bins on the round. However, Joe says his team is very resilient. They have also been overwhelmed with thank you notes, cards, and presents left for them on top of bins.
"We're on very good terms with the residents we serve. One loader was given 19 Easter eggs in one shift! He was thrilled! We really appreciate everything residents are doing to show they care. It’s great when children wave to us through the window, and they’ve been leaving us pictures and cards they’ve made – we love those. And the chocolates, biscuits and cakes!”
He said that considering the situation, they are very proud to be maintaining the service. "Of course, we’re worried about the virus, like everyone, but we’re stoic and carrying on.”
How you can support your crews
- Park considerately. With more people at home during the day, some crews are finding it even more challenging to drive down some residential streets.
- Wipe down your bin handles. Doing this before and after your collections will keep you – and the crews – safer.
- Double bag any potentially infected items like used tissues or cleaning cloths and leave them for at least 72 hours (3 days) before they go into the external bin.
- Check your local council’s website regularly for updates on collections.
- Be kind! The crews are working under very difficult circumstances, so please be kind and patient as they continue to provide a brilliant service.
For more advice about waste collections during the pandemic, please read this guide.