By Kit Sandeman, Local Democracy Reporter
As the world slides further and further from reality, some things remain constant, like the weekly clatter of the bin collection.
But with concerns over coronavirus, arrangements have had to be made at short notice to ensure the crews can keep operating safely.
For one crew in the Meadows who empty bins every Friday, this means each round is slower, but they say the gratitude they’ve received from the public has more than made up for it.
As they’ve continued on their rounds, people have been clapping out of windows, giving them thumbs-up from their doors and offering them drinks to keep them going.
For Mark Freeman, Marcus Simpson and Cadin Gerrard, who were picking up recycling bins this morning in the Meadows (Friday, March 3), the last few weeks have involved a lot of change, but they’ve kept going throughout.
Normally, crews would have three people out behind the wagon, collecting the bins and loading them to be dumped in, but now there are just two.
And whereas normally the three would jump into the cab when the time came to move on, now a separate vehicle – on an unfamiliar route – has to come and pick up one of the three-man crew, and drive them to wherever the wagon needs to go.
All of this is so that the crews can keep socially distant – the two metres apart recommended by the Government.
Marcus Simpson, 28, from Aspley, has already had to self-isolate after his partner showed symptoms, but said the response they’ve had from citizens has reminded him how important the job they are doing is.
He said: “We’ve had a lot of clapping out of windows and people giving us thumbs up, we’ve had people giving us drinks to keep us hydrated, and people have been leaving us notes telling us to keep our spirits up. It’s been really good to see.
“There’s been a lot of generosity.
“It does give you a real sense that people are really appreciating the work that we’re doing.”
“Yesterday an older woman came up to us and said ‘I’m not just clapping for the NHS, it’s for you’.
“It shows you that we’re doing important work.
“We’re not just bin men, we’re key workers.”
Despite the challenges the crews are facing, all general rubbish and recycling rounds are continuing as normal, however the garden waste collection has been suspended to help free up capacity.