Royal Mail staff in Northamptonshire work flat out as they tackle busiest day of the year

Royal Mail in Swan Valley Way has increased staffing by nearly 60 per cent for the festive period.
Royal Mail in Swan Valley Way has increased staffing by nearly 60 per cent for the festive period.

Workers at the Royal Mail processing centre in Swan Valley are working against the clock to deliver Christmas gifts and cards to loved ones in this county and beyond.

Royal Mail South Midlands is the largest processing centre in the country and staff there have been gearing up to deliver five per cent of the countries post before the big day.

The mail centre serves 49 delivery offices and 12 collections hubs.

The mail centre serves 49 delivery offices and 12 collections hubs.

Wednesday (December 12) marked the busiest day on the calendar for the workers.

More than six million items were handled yesterday - about four million more compared to the average day.

Coach Julie Barrett is tasked to look after 96 Christmas casuals on the early shift who were brought in to help with the festive spike.

"Without them we would struggle," she said.

Coach Julie Barrett looks after the 96 Christmas casuals on the early shift.

Coach Julie Barrett looks after the 96 Christmas casuals on the early shift.

But when she’s not teaching the newcomers she also works hard to sort catalogues, brochures and magazines into the right piles for delivery.

“For us, in this area, it does not have a massive impact until we send out holiday brochures and magazines for the New Year sales,” she added.

‘Self-gifting’ has become a new trend: “We have seen a big rise in subscription boxes that come to your door once a week. It's really taking off, there's lots of ones offering make up.”

She said weather is a contributing factor to how busy her team is.

Baldev Sahota has been working at the depot for 32 years. On Wednesday he was manually sorting Christmas cards - rejected by sorting machines for their size and font - into pigeon holes.

Baldev Sahota has been working at the depot for 32 years. On Wednesday he was manually sorting Christmas cards - rejected by sorting machines for their size and font - into pigeon holes.

"We have been really lucky that it's been really mild. People are going to Christmas fairs and markets so they are going out and buying things, but when it's rubbish weather we find people are perhaps sitting in more, writing more Christmas cards and ordering presents online."

The sorting office serves four postcode areas, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Milton Keynes and Coventry, with a catchment area of 2,900 square miles.

Staff numbers have been ramped up to more than 1,500 people to cope with pressure - with 540 seasonal workers employed to work across four processing sites. An additional three sites are used for December.

150 extra vans have been brought in to assist with deliveries and collections and an additional 26 7.5T vehicles are being used to transport mail and large customer collections - on top of the hundreds of extra vehicles and contractors that are being used to help the national network.

To increase the size of parcel traffic the plant expands to process work across four sites: South Midland Mail Centre,Northampton Delivery Office, Leicester Delivery Office,Coventry Delivery Office.

To increase the size of parcel traffic the plant expands to process work across four sites: South Midland Mail Centre,Northampton Delivery Office, Leicester Delivery Office,Coventry Delivery Office.

The last posting dates for Christmas is 18th December for Second Class mail and the 20th December for First Class Mail.

The last posting dates for Christmas is 18th December for Second Class mail and the 20th December for First Class Mail.