As part of our series on the people working hard to keep the lights on and the gas flowing during the coronavirus outbreak, meet Abby Cardall. Abby and her colleagues in National Grid Metering are helping to make sure that gas supplies for 9 million residential and commercial customers continue, even if their meter fails. Here she tells us more about how the team is keeping its services going.
I’m part of a team of 190 or so people in National Grid Metering who, together with our national service partners, look after 9 million ‘traditional’ gas meters (as opposed to smart meters) in homes and businesses in the UK. Why is this work important now? Whether you’re a company supplying vital products and services or a consumer isolated and stuck at home, if your gas meter fails your gas supply might then stop.
Keeping gas meters functioning – and therefore the gas flowing – is particularly important now, to ensure people can stay warm and cook while so many more of us are at home. It’s equally essential that business activities can continue, for example making sure food factories can carry on production. There are also industrial locations where safety issues can arise if a commercial gas meter stops working.
One of the key things we’ve done is to prioritise what is business critical and what isn’t. We don’t need to do certain things we were doing before and consumers don’t want us to do them either – for example a routine maintenance visit or moving a meter because someone is having their kitchen redone. Both gas suppliers and consumers have changed what they need us to focus on and we’ve responded to this.
What would I say to anyone worrying that we can’t keep the power on and the gas going? We’re working closely with our customers and service partners to make sure customers get what they need. We’re experienced, robust and pro-active and we’re well-prepared to keep things working.
As with many businesses, we’ve switched all our teams to home working. This includes absolutely everyone from our contact centre’s customer service operators to the engineering coordinator, who works with our partners who are still getting out and visiting sites to do jobs like fixing faulty meters.
We’re getting the job done, but we’re conscious we need to look after hearts and minds too. Morale is important. Some of the team are missing social contact because they’re not used to working from home, so we’re providing wellbeing support. We’re helping each other by swapping tips too – right down to homemade play dough recipes to keep children busy.
We’re very active in the community near where we’re based in Solihull. We’ve been doing little things to help, like giving spare stationery from the office to local kids’ clubs and food supplies to the local Age UK for the elderly who might be stuck at home. Some of our team are volunteering to assist with food deliveries too. If we’ve got capacity in there to draw on, we’re looking at ways to use it.