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In the spotlight - Housekeeping, Cleaning and General Services

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Around 250 colleagues work in Housekeeping, Cleaning and General Services, which includes our Housekeeping and Cleaning Services, General Services and the Postal and Delivery Service.

The team takes pride in providing a professional and proactive approach across all non-residential University buildings - delivering consistently high standards of cleanliness and service.

Dialogue spoke to several members of the team across each of the services to find out more about their individual roles…

Angela works in our Housekeeping and Cleaning Services team, who provide cleaning across campus, including offices, circulation areas, teaching spaces, toilets and washrooms and social spaces (including kitchens).

We spoke to Angela, who is primarily based in Bill Bryson Library, about her role as a Housekeeping and Cleaning Service Assistant:

"I work in Bill Bryson Library ensuring the users can work in a clean environment, but my focus as I work throughout the afternoon is washrooms and waste. I cover all areas of the Library seeing students and assisting them. For example, I have taken a first aid course through the University and assist when they are poorly. I find lost property all the time and get the most satisfaction to see their belongings returned. Often users comment on how clean the washrooms are kept and it makes me happy that people do notice the work we do.

“As part of the team, we were rewarded in the recognition awards run by the University which was a special bonus. I really enjoy my job and it keeps me active as I complete over 20,000 steps a day!"

Despite the library being busy, knowing the collective efforts of the team enable the readers to enjoy their hard work is so rewarding.

The team also includes our Postal and Delivery Services, who are responsible for all mailing activities, from sorting and delivering mail, to collecting mail for external dispatch and internal redistribution.

Mark Wilson from the Postal and Delivery Services team
Mark Wilson from the Postal and Delivery Services team

We caught up with Mark, who works as a Postal and Delivery Service Assistant, to find out what a regular day is like here at Durham:

“Once I have checked my Teams and emails for messages and whiteboard for jobs each morning, which can be anything from delivering display boards and equipment for Event Durham, Human Resources or University events, we have a team meeting to discuss work and any other business.

“During the morning, I also have collections and deliveries to buildings just out of the city such as Sheraton Park, Keenan House and Brackenbury as well as Ushaw College where Archaeological Services are based. Each morning, I also collect all the library books from Bill Bryson Library that are dispatched internally and across the UK and globe to students and staff.

“Returning to Postal and Delivery Services at Mountjoy, I prepare and process the morning's incoming items for dispatch, as well as sorting all the incoming internal and external items arriving at the University. Approaching midday, I contact staff on my Teams who may have urgent packages to collect, especially with the introduction of hybrid working.

“Usually, I have my lunch around midday as my collection and delivery round starts at 1.15pm using my electric vehicle. There are currently around 50 collection and delivery points on my round each day, with more buildings on their way such as Boldon House and the Waterside building. Upon my return from the postal round late afternoon, I unload my van and start processing outgoing mail for collection, and prepare and sort internal mail ready for the next day.

“My electric vehicle only has around 60 miles of charge so finding a charging point is a priority at this time of day, so we are ready to go straight away the following day!”

General Services

The General Services team are responsible for delivering a range of services across University premises, including basic maintenance, minor DIY tasks, statutory compliance, conference porterage, clearing snow, litter and weeds and ad-hoc security.  

We spoke to General Service Supervisor Callum about what the role involves:

“My role involves supervising General Service Assistants (GSAs) day to day, such as assigning and arranging jobs and checking compliance completion, as well as assisting the other GSA Team Leaders. I ensure compulsory training is completed and report Legionella testing each month. I take part in a lot of our team's recruitment, doing short-listing and interviews.

“The team that I am apart of works very well together. We have very clear lines of communication and regular team meetings which help with overseeing all of the GSAs and Housekeeping staff within Accommodation and Commercial Services.”

Edward is a General Service Assistant at Bill Bryson Library. Edward explained more about his work.

‘’As a General Services Assistant (GSA), my aim is to make the building run as smooth as possible. The first thing I do in the morning is empty the bins in the outside social area, and use a leaf blower to collect any litter, which I then dispose of. 

''Inside the building, I inspect and change recycling bins as needed, and handle minor maintenance tasks highlighted by the morning cleaners. Any jobs I can’t deal with and requiring tradespeople, I log into our reporting system.

‘’I work closely with the building manager to identify and log new faults, and we also work together to develop long-term plans for future projects. For example, I recently moved 70 chairs from the School of Education to increase study space in Bill Bryson Library".

I am encouraged to suggest improvements, and earlier this year, I received an Inspiring the Extraordinary award for my contributions to recycling improvements, presented by our VC, Professor Karen O’Brien.

Keep a look our for our August issue, where we'll be speaking to Edward to find out more about what brought him to Durham, and what he enjoys most about his role as a General Service Assistant. 



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