Eight members of staff furloughed by Commercial Maintenance Services UK Limited (CMS) used their professional expertise to help YMCA Newcastle overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Gateshead-based firm allowed the volunteers to use its vans, tools, and equipment to undertake two major projects over three weeks which will allow the independent charity to meet safety procedures as well as generating vital income.

The furloughed staff carried out essential maintenance as well as undertaking a range of improvements to the YMCA’s Holly Hill Nursery in Felling, Gateshead, to create a safer environment for the children.

They installed sinks in the classrooms, which will allow the children to wash their hands more regularly, easy-clean work surfaces and child-friendly taps in the main toilets. As part of the safety measures, they also fitted a new kitchen and reconfigured the entranceway to create more space for parents dropping their children off.

YMCA Newcastle has also had to change the way it delivers its youth support services as some of its buildings are incompatible with social distancing guidelines.

As a result, the CMS volunteers converted its former youth centre on Wellbeck Road, Walker, into a six bedroom house which will not only provide quality supported housing for young people but will generate valuable rental income to help fund its activities.

The youth centre will be relocated to its nearby Walker Park Centre, which because of its size and layout, means social distancing can be achieved.

Family-run CMS, which installs, maintains and repairs critical business systems, including heating, hot water, gas and electrics, was forced to furlough 66 of its 136 staff based across the UK in April as work from several major clients, including those in the hospitality industry, dried up.

Jeff Hurst, chief executive of YMCA Newcastle, said: “We are all extremely grateful for the support of CMS and their eight furloughed staff who volunteered to carry out this work at such a crucial time.

“Their skilled and professional efforts have created a much safer environment for our users, staff and parents, and has allowed the YMCA to resume its provision of its much-needed services.

“It has also saved the charity a considerable cost, money that otherwise would have been diverted from the provision of frontline services.”

Nic Smith, co-founder and director of CMS UK Ltd, said: “We have encouraged those of our staff who were placed on furlough to undertake voluntary work wherever possible and I’m delighted that they have been able to make such a difference – by creating a much safer environment– to what is a hugely important institution here on Tyneside.”