On Thursday 28th June, nine members of Llantarnam Community Primary School’s student council, along with their head teacher Mrs Laura Perrett and Councillor David Thomas, visited the We Plan Group's office to talk business!
Unfortunately smoke from our staff smoking shelter had begun blowing over to their play area after a thicket of trees, which had previously been acting as a barrier to the smoke, had been cut down.
Pupils at Llantarnam Community Primary school raised their concerns to their student council, who then asked for some help from Councillor David Thomas. Councillor Thomas then approached us on their behalf to see if there was anything we could do to address the issue.
We investigated several options and selected the most effective, value for money option to present to the student Council.
We were very interested to hear about the student council as we have recently set up our own employee forum. We invited the student council members into our offices with their Head Teacher so we could learn more about what they did, and explain to them our thought processes and considerations.
HR Business Partner Rhian Head led the meeting, which was also attended by Steve Francis, our Director of Support Services. A representative from our own employee council, Lauri Cousins, was also present.
After introductions were made we gave the children a tour of the building before taking them outside for a site visit to show them, from a distance, our smoking area.
Steve then talked to us about some of the challenges we had faced when trying to resolve the issue:
“We thought about the different possibilities and obviously the first thought was to move the shelter, but unfortunately it’s not that simple.
We had to take into account the safety of our staff. The areas around our building are our car parks, which meant we couldn’t move the smoking area without putting our employees in danger.”
Taking everything into consideration, the solution proposed was to erect a 10ft fence behind our current smoking shelter. The idea is that the smoke will hit the fence and be sent up high enough that it will pass over the school playing fields.
Mrs Laura Perrett told us:
“I think this is a great idea.
It’s been good to come in and have a look round, and we can see that you have really taken our concerns seriously.
We thought it was a case of simply moving the shelter elsewhere but we can see now that it’s not that simple.
But this is a brilliant alternative and it’s been great for the children to understand the reasoning behind the proposal.”
Councillor David Thomas, who also attended the meeting on Thursday, added:
“I would just like to say how impressed I have been with how the We Plan Group have handled this situation, and how they have worked with the school to find a solution to the problem.”
Seeing how maturely the children had handled the situation, Lauri asked if they could help us with one of our own problems – cigarette butts not being disposed of properly!
We have now set the pupils a special challenge to come up with a poster we can display on our new fence, asking staff to dispose of their cigarette butts in the bins provided! The budding artist whose poster is picked to help us tackle the litter problem will win a special prize!
We look forward to inviting the children back to our offices once the fence has been erected.