We thought that our loyal supporters and the public at large may be interested to know what has been going on at the Bonded Warehouse during the last 6 months of ‘lockdown’ due to the Coronavirus Cov-19 pandemic. Despite the limiting nature of the measures required as a result of the Coronavirus Cov-19 pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of annual events at the Bonded Warehouse we have managed to make a lot of progress with many of the major projects which were approved at our January 2020 Trust Meeting.
Passers-by may have noticed the recent scaffolding which was required to safely facilitate the last stage of repairs to the roof of the office buildings. We took the opportunity of the scaffolding being in place to commission a replacement of guttering and re-pointing of the rear wall which in places was in a poor state causing water ingress through the walls causing damp patches in the ground floor parlour and stairwell. A job well done and one which will safeguard the integrity of the building for many years to come.
Following the successful refurbishment of the Ladies toilets last year, the same extensive treatment has been given to the Men’s toilet in the Bonded Warehouse. One of the few advantages of the building being closed is that the contractor could work safely, avoiding interaction with our customers and generally it didn’t cause us any bookings inconvenience as the building wasn’t being used. All the tiling and flooring has been finished too and it does look very nice and to a high standard – Gents please watch your aim!
The three boilers in the Bonded Warehouse have been serviced with the good news that they have passed the required tests and we have a new gas safety certificate. Repair work has also been done on the control panel in the Bonded Warehouse for the heating system, requiring the replacement of a few outdated components. The gas meter in the Bonded Warehouse has also been changed. The electrician has completed the annual electrical inspection at the Bonded Warehouse and this has pleasingly passed without any further work needed to be carried out. Nine new LED lights have been fitted in the Brindley Room, securely attached by new cables to the beams to prevent hirers from attaching items around them. Two new ceiling lights outside the toilets have also been fitted and the outside lighting by the fire escape is now working properly on the light sensor. The new lights are very bright when you look directly at them so have been finely adjusted to avoid them shining into people’s eyes.
Of course all of the above projects will enhance and safeguard the buildings and some of the maintenance tasks are now mandatory to ensure that as a facility used by the public it is a certified as safe – this has meant a significant hit on our funding given that our main income streams have needed to be cancelled, but due to great fiscal diligence by our Treasurer, Chris Dyche, we are keeping our heads above water (no pun intended – well OK it was!) and financially we are positioned satisfactorily going forwards and certainly better off than many other charitable organisations and businesses who have serious concerns for their survival.
We are delighted to report that following a risk assessment and consultation with many of our regular hirers (e.g. Yoga and Slimming World) we are now starting to ‘open up’ the Bonded Warehouse as long as social distancing measures and other Government guidelines are complied with. Pilates classes on Mondays and Thursdays during the day are also resuming on 7th September, Meditation class are considering returning on 9th September. Yoga evening classes are considering returning towards the end of September along with the Stourbridge Bonsai Society.
Posters and hand sanitisers are in place in the building as protective safeguards for our hirers. Our Manager, Heide, has sent out our risk assessment and special conditions of hire with regard to Covid-19 to our regular hiring groups and any groups that are returning will have to add their Covid-19 risks to their risk assessment form. Groups such as Slimming World that have multiple sessions in one room hire meeting will be exiting the building from the Brindley room down the rear fire escape and out through the gate into Canal Street using a one way system.
Malcolm, one of our stalwart Tuesday Club volunteers, has kindly put up hand towel dispensers in the Kitchen, Green room in the Bonded Warehouse, basement kitchen and the Elsan, as we can’t use our normal towels due to Covid-19. Disposable / once usable paper towels are a cleaner safer option. Also the office building has been fitted with two dispensers in lieu of hand dryers.
Our manager has held a meeting with our Cleaner and Caretaker to discuss issues about re-opening the building and agreed enhanced cleaning procedures, they have been provided with -Covid-19 cleaning requirements for them to follow and to decide on a cleaning schedule to work around the groups that will be hiring. PPE such as plastic aprons, gloves and a face visor have been made available as we need to insure their safe working conditions and also that of the public that are using our buildings.
This essential preparation has clearly involved a lot of work by our Manager to whom we owe an enormous debt of gratitude in working hard to ensure that we are all as safe as possible.
Malcolm again has been very busy undertaking Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) in the Bonded Warehouse and the offices, yesterday he was working all day in the basement to ensure that all of our electrical items, and there quite a few are working safely and compliant with the standards – thank you Malcolm, it is most appreciated.
On the technology front, we have invested in BT’s new BT Halo System which commenced on 19th August so it will be a change over from a normal phone line to the internet based solution which affords greater clarity on the new handsets and has inbuilt resilience of 4G in the event of broadband outage. On the back of the installation of the necessary new router we have installed three BT Wi-Fi extender disks to give improved coverage across the offices and the warehouse for the benefit of our volunteers but also as a service improvement to our hirers who will soon be able to access the managed free to use Guest Wi-Fi service.
In addition, because we were having problems with the annual PCI DSS certification, we have installed a new Credit Card device using GPRS access which will improve our capability to take payments in both buildings using a roaming SIM – the signal is excellent even in the carpark.
Letters have been posted to all of our Tuesday Club volunteers providing them with an update of activities and importantly asking if they would like to return back on 1st September. We are pleased to report that the group has since reformed and have an unusual and quite beneficial situation in that they can concentrate on routine maintenance tasks for the immediate future as resources will not be required to orchestrate the Open Weekend and Santa Trips – the proverbial silver lining in the Coronavirus dark cloud. Expect to see many a paint brush earnestly in action over the forthcoming months. Just today one team replaced a rotting window cill on the top floor of the rounded end of the building whilst others did a litter pick (4 bins full) and tidied the overgrowing vegetation on the carpark which now looks much better.
If you would like to join us at the Tuesday Club please get in touch as many hands do indeed make light work. It is a fulfilling role and one to which you can commit as much or little time as you are able.
We hope that you find this update of interest, useful to know and that you will return to provide your valued support to Stourbridge Navigation Trust in 2021 when perhaps we can return to some sort of normality.