March 23rd was such a strange day in so many ways, as I have said before but for #TeamIndigo, emotions were at peak. We were saying bye to our children, not knowing when we were going to see them again, the uncertainty of what was going on for our families, our jobs, the organisation – everything was up in the air. As ever staff prioritized the children and families and demonstrated leadership at every level across the organisation by getting involved in identifying what needed to be done for families.
The Senior Leadership quickly set up home offices and established a daily zoom meeting, to plan the range of services we now needed to deliver but most importantly to check in with each other, check in on the people in the respective teams and support each other as we faced the waves of varying emotions that were hitting us all.
We recognised that if that was how we were feeling so were our team. Indigo staff are colleagues but they are friends too, one big team of people, who are proud of where they work and with that comes a closeness and protectiveness that has never been more prominent until now. The leadership team knew that whatever happened our goal for staff would be:
To support and protect our team and their families whether they are at home or at work.
The most obvious place to start was with salaries, rapid cash flow forecasts were prepared on a variety of assumptions and an emergency Board meeting was called. With a fantastic team of Trustees who are passionate about the Indigo values, we were able to agree to pay 100% salaries for the month of March and April and this was communicated to staff immediately. The relief was palpable and with that in place we were then able to consider what else was needed to support and protect our team.
To Furlough or not to Furlough!
Who had even heard the phrase Furlough? With more years than I care to count in and around HR, it was completely new to me but it sounded like the option we needed to take. With over 80 staff and only around 6% of children attending, we only needed a fraction of that number but we needed to ensure we kept them on Board. Around 60% of Team Indigo have now been furloughed and all staff are still being paid 100% salaries, thanks to the government Job retention Scheme and a few weeks solid of applying for grants! Funding from the Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund, The Resilience Fund and Scottish Enterprise Working Capital Fund has made it possible to make the immediate future for our staff more certain, at least in terms of their salaries. Yes, it has been tricky to balance the needs of those at home and those who are still working with everyone receiving 100% salaries but explaining that everyone has a role to play and whilst if those working had not been willing to do so, we couldn’t have remained open, equally, if those furloughed had not agreed to do so, we would not be where we are either. Some of the funding also helped us to do a little extra for those that were working; limited hours actually in service on site; childcare provided free of charge; help with travel costs; breakfast and lunch provision; providing laundry resources for uniforms, support costs towards Broadband. For all staff we focused on connection and wellbeing providing access to weekly non-work related zoom catch ups, whatsapp groups, access to Indigo Eats and support with shopping and energy costs where the household had been impacted financially but I think the most important element has been accurate, timely and regular information to all staff. Information that has been honest and evidenced to support them in making informed decisions about their practice and their home-life.
Jacks of All Trades!
The roles staff have turned their hands to have been incredible and on a voluntary basis, no contract negotiations and hurdles, just pure passion and commitment to their families and the organisation; delivery drivers for Indigo Eats meal deliveries and Castlemilk Together shopping deliveries, broadcast sensations from those doing online stories, activities, football coaches, quizmasters! You name it! For me this demonstrates the commitment to the values of our organisation but importantly it shows a strength of care, passion and the leadership that each and everyone has grown and developed in, over the last few years. It is the perfect example of the creativity, flexibility and agility and the social enterprise sector and I hope that #TeamIndigo’s Covid response helps strengthen our organisation’s reputation and demonstrate not just the value of social enterprise but the potential for driving forward change for the better Post Covid in all of our communities.
We are embarking on the next phase of this crazy journey, helping furloughed staff get ready to return, working out how to make sure our working staff get a break whilst still delivering services, translating and implementing the myriad of ever-changing guidance and importantly evolving the many new services we have introduced as our families’ needs change.
I will be forever proud to have been a part of what we have all achieved together, especially across the third sector but most importantly I’m so excited to see where #TeamIndigo can go next on our family support journey.
Examples of the home learning and story videos created by #TeamIndigo: