Lee Benfield has worked as a Freight Security Assistant at the port for 24 years. After being identified as a keyworker, he says the current crisis is the most serious and important challenge him and his team have had to face.
What is your current role at the port?
I work primarily as a Freight Security Assistant (FSA) at Portsmouth International Port, but also cover supervisor positions when needed. Alongside my main role, I am also a health and safety rep for the operational department and the mental wellbeing champion for the port.
I have worked on the port for 35 years, 24 years in my current role. My duties involve weighing and processing export freight, import freight, conducting trailer location rounds and being involved in any hazardous incidents and other emergency situations as back up to the co-ordinator. I work in a group of thirteen FSAs, reporting to the Traffic Supervisor with two other colleagues in my team.
How has this changed during the current coronavirus crisis?
During the current Covid19 crisis we have seen a number of changes put in place to protect myself and the port’s customers. These measures range from social distancing to using PPE such as perspex screens, as well as limiting the number of people in the office and reducing the contact with clients by using paperless systems.
How do you feel being identified as a keyworker?
I have been classified as a key worker as I am involved in the facilitation of the transport of urgent cargo, such as food and medical supplies. This includes the shipment of matericals for a temporary hospital to the Channel Islands.
I feel proud that my skills are important during this time, and I have also worked extra hours when our workforce was almost halved at the outset. I am also proud of the members of staff who have worked with me, doing what was necessary to keep the port open and running at a very difficult time.
What is your favourite part of your job/working at Portsmouth International Port?
I enjoy the camaraderie of working with my colleagues who have pulled together at this time and have thrived in adapting to the different work processes put in place to keep people safe.
Over my many years of working at the port we have faced a number of challenging situations, including the Icelandic volcano eruption and other difficult scenarios, but I feel that the Covid19 crisis is by far the most serious and important challenge we have had to deal with.