Greetings from Europe! Many of you won’t have heard of the DIO European Support Group (ESG), headquartered in Mons, Belgium. We have teams located across Europe who manage service family accommodation, schools in Naples and Ramstein, supporting offices and stores as well as community and welfare accommodation.
ESG manages around 1600 properties across 16 countries in Europe and Turkey. Most of our properties are sourced from the private rental market by DIO. We work closely with the Land Management Services Overseas team, who also have staff based across Europe, who lead on lease sourcing and management. Our ESG team delivers all accommodation services including allocating homes, distributing furniture and managing service family accommodation moves. The ESG team also deliver full facilities management services such as routine repairs to homes, like boiler repairs and redecoration where needed, utilities and the overseas rebate scheme. They also ensure that all of our properties are compliant such as by carrying out annual checks on electrical and gas safety and ensuring that properties we take on meet UK and host nation fire regulations.
The ESG team is made up of 10 UK civil servants, one member of military staff and 73 locally employed civilians and dependent staff based across Europe.
Some of the work we’ve been involved in recently includes support to the Secretary of State’s commitment in uplifting NATO UK posts which will include 106 new NATO jobs and 25 associated support jobs across Europe. As part of this uplift, we’re working to establish a new cluster of accommodation in Ulm, Germany.
We’re also working to rationalise our current estate responsibilities and as part of this have recently transitioned the management of Bardufoss training estate and Ayrshire Barracks to our overseas training teams. This will enable the team to focus on our primary task of delivering accommodation to MOD’s military and civilian population living in Europe.
Adapting to a Coronavirus world
During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve had to adapt to continue delivering our normal output with most staff working from home. For our repairs and maintenance, we initially had to move to delivering only emergency and health and safety works as travel across Europe was restricted for everything but essential work. Due to the rapidly changing situation in different parts of Europe, with varying levels of restriction, the team have had to adapt quickly to different in-country regulations.
Now that restrictions are easing, we’ve been able to reinstate non-emergency maintenance, offer gardening and domestic assistance again and we are working with our DIO colleagues in the UK to plan for the unfreezing of assignments and move-ins from the beginning of July. We are also planning for the Overseas Procurement Contract which will engage an Industry Partner to help us deliver hard and soft facilities management services across our estate.
All in all, it’s hard to believe I’ve been in post at ESG just over a year now. It’s true what they say, time really flies when you’re busy, and this is a very interesting, and challenging, job. With all the unknowns of the continuing response to the pandemic there are likely more challenges ahead, but I am proud of how my team have adapted to the current environment and am certain that they’ll continue to find new ways of working to maintain customer service levels and support each other. I know I speak on behalf on everyone in ESG when I say that we look forward to continuing to develop this unique area of DIO.