Malcolm answers the call to #stopthespread

Many people have gone the extra mile in helping deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the case of Malcolm Thomas and his van, that has quite literally been the case - and all in a safety-first way that has helped #stopthespread

Malcolm, 68, a grandfather with two adult children, lives near Thame and is a driver for the county council’s library service. He has worked for the council since December 2015 when he became semi-retired. Prior to working for the council, Malcolm was a production manager for a printer cartridge recycling firm in Berkshire.

Before the emergency struck in March, Malcolm’s work involved driving his van across nine of the libraries in Oxford collecting and delivering books and other materials - so serving the community was already something close to him.

When lockdown happened in March and libraries had to close, Malcolm stepped forward and answered the call to step in and make vital deliveries and collections for critical services as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) to help #stopthespread of the infection.

Malcolm’s PPE deliveries make a real difference; they allow essential, front line workers at the council to keep serving communities across the county in a time of critical need; they help keep our staff safe and reduce the risk of transmission to others.

Malcolm said:

“I normally work 25 hours a week but during lockdown my hours varied. I regularly worked Wednesday and Thursday and on other days worked as required depending on what I am asked to do amid the current need. My first call is to collect the council van from Holton (near Wheatley).”

Most of the PPE deliveries have been to central locations known as Community Service Centres where they are then distributed on to staff who need the items. When making collections or deliveries, Malcolm has been very mindful to take all precautions to #stopthespread; “I make safe deliveries by first ringing the door, placing the items by the doorstep before moving at least two metres further away to let the person know their goods are delivered. Other steps I have to keep safe are gloves, a mask and sanitising spray which I use for the van.”

Malcolm’s commitment to his duties also goes well beyond what you might expect; another vital task he performs amid the pandemic is to help support the workforce of the council staff as they work from home. With so many of support staff dispersed from County Hall and Speedwell House in Oxford, Bodicote House in Banbury and other offices, who now must keep safe by working from home, Malcolm plays a vital link by delivering and collecting IT equipment.

He has enabled countless staff to keep up their support of services by making sure they have the laptops, phones and other equipment to continue their duties at a time of critical need. From Caversham in the south to the edge of Banbury in the north of Oxfordshire, Malcolm has selflessly covered miles to keep our services running.

At the beginning of the lockdown, the Coronavirus 2020 Act enabled registrars to register deaths by telephone instead of in face-to-face appointments. Malcolm played a key role in this transition, collecting confidential paperwork from registrars’ homes across the whole of Oxfordshire and delivering it safely to the Oxford Register Office, where it can be stored securely.

Ian Pike, one of Oxfordshire County Council’s registration staff said:

“I live outside of Henley and am a Registrar, (normally based at the Henley office), so I have been working from home with all the IT gear that entails.

“Since the home registration systems were set up Malcolm was the mainstay of making this all work. Initially he delivered the IT equipment, and then a regular weekly visit to bring stationery, ink cartridges and return with the registration material to Oxford. He was punctual and always a cheery smile and hello, a brief conversation and then he was off to the next registrar. A reliable and charming man.”

Keep safe wherever you work or travel

We all have a vital role to play in keeping Oxfordshire safe and in preventing local outbreaks. Make sure you follow these simple steps to keep safe and stop the virus spreading. Like Malcolm does, we need to keep our distance from other people where possible and avoid all busy gatherings. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available

Wear a face covering on public transport, in all shops and in places where it is hard to stay away from people. Like Malcolm, with your support, we all have a part to play in our goal to #stopthespread.