Supporting our Island employees

Looking after the welfare of the 24 staff who maintain the electricity network that keeps the power flowing to Shetland’s 14,000 homes and businesses is the job of Rosie Doull, Internal Resource Manager with our Networks business, SSEN.

Shetland has a population of 23,000, a climate noticeably different from the UK mainland, wind speeds of up to 70-80mph are not uncommon, and a landscape which is at the same time both breath-taking and logistically challenging, so it needs an electricity network that is robust, resilient and ready to withstand not just a tough winter, but challenging conditions all year round.

Rosie and her colleagues on Shetland are part of the country’s army of critical workers keeping Britain going during the coronavirus pandemic, looking after the poles, wires, cables and substations on the island.

She said: “The big change for everyone is that we’re all now based at home as part of the social distancing measures.

“Across SSEN we’re prioritising operational activities to focus on critical work that ensures a safe, reliable and resilient supply of electricity to our customers, including high priority maintenance and responding to faults, and everyone is now heading to the jobs straight from home instead of the depot. 

“The depot is where we’re all used to seeing each other at the start of the working day, having a cuppa and a catch-up, and so being based in the house is such a massive change.”

As well as being based at home, there are other changes to the way teams are working, as Rosie explains: “All travel is now on a ‘one person, one vehicle’ basis unless it’s an emergency and there’s no possible alternative. “We’ve also got signs for the teams to take with them on jobs to let the public know it’s critical work and to respect the social distancing guidelines. “Living and working in an island community has brought another set of challenges, as Rosie explains the wider coronavirus strategy has seen transport links between Shetland to the mainland reduced.

She said: “SSEN has been great with our team up here, they realise that our situation is a lot different compared to the mainland, and so they’ve arranged for extra supplies to be shipped up to us. But still, with the general transport links being cut back, it’s made us even more focussed on our day-to-day stock levels.”

Away from work, Rosie is supporting Shetland Scrubs, which is making scrubs for NHS frontline workers on the island, allowing them to leave their scrubs at work to be washed at the end of the day, minimising the risk of any further contamination as they head home.

“This is another great example of how a community can pull together,” said Rosie.