Bringing a community together in crisis

During the height of the crisis orders were up at my workplace because we produce clinical waste bins used by the NHS. We were experiencing the opposite to much of the rest of the country. As a rep that meant that meant I had to step up and support my members to ensure they weren’t overworked, were safe in the workplace, and were being justly rewarded for their efforts.

As a result of negotiations with the company, the workforce here agreed to postpone our holidays in order to maintain output and fulfil all of the orders coming through. In return, my colleagues and I received double our bonus and were able to take our holidays in slower periods later in the year.

As we were working during the first lockdown period, at the height of the spread of the virus, it was even more important though that I worked to ensure all of my colleagues and members were as safe as they could be. Working with the company we did a risk assessment and started working in a socially distanced manner. This kept the spread of the virus to a minimum, ensuring we were safe at work and that production didn’t have to stop. During this period, despite the difficulties of socially distanced working, we all pulled together and even broke production records. These efforts meant we were able to produce thousands of vital clinical waste bins to hospitals across the UK.

I also see my role as a Community rep not just being confined to helping my colleagues at work, but about helping the wider community too. So, I approached my employer and asked them to donate any leftover steel to me as I had an idea for a project. From that I began cutting wind spinners with a laser cutter. These wind spinners not only cheered up my friends and neighbours, we raised over £11,000 for NHS Charities Together from them too.

We’re back to normal production levels now but maintaining social distancing to keep us all safe. I’ll continue to negotiate on behalf of my colleagues, and won’t stop supporting the local community either. Together, we can get through this.

Mark Simpson is Branch Secretary at Wybone in Hoyland where Community are recognised. The site designs and manufactures street furniture and clinical waste bins.

If you’re interested in becoming a community rep, contact us at

This blog is part of a series from Community reps on supporting their members at work through the crisis. You can read the first blog from our young member Jack Whiston, who works in the footwear industry here.

The second blog in the series is from Lorraine Jackman, a Prison Officer at HMP Peterborough. You can see it here.

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