Covid-19 continues to present a huge and unprecedented challenge to us all. The social distancing and isolation measures recently introduced - and the closure of schools, non-essential businesses and other public places - are rightly designed to help support our NHS and ultimately save lives by limiting the spread of the virus. Even so, it remains a really challenging and worrying time for many. But we really are all in this together. Inevitably, overcoming this challenge isn’t something we can do on our own. As a community, we all have role to play. As a community, we will all face some difficult decisions over the coming weeks and as a community we really need to continue to support each other. We all need to play our part. You will all know of many examples where this is already happening, and I’d like to thank our residents, businesses, partners and Council staff for their ongoing hard work, dedication and kindness at this difficult time – it’s truly inspiring to see. I recently outlined the Council’s five-point plan for tackling Covid-19. This will remain under continuous review but I would like to update you on where we’re up to:
Protecting our most vulnerable residents
We continue to be in close contact with Public Health England and the Government’s Chief Medical Officer and are working with our local public and voluntary sector partners to fully understand the current and likely future impact on our own communities.
Care services, which we provide to those in need on a daily basis, continue to be delivered.
An emergency response has been launched to support vulnerable groups at higher risk of serious complications as a result of Covid-19 infection. The Government has contacted affected residents and the first packages of support have now been received. We are also making contact with those residents at a local level to ensure that they have all of the help and advice that they need.
A wider group of people may also need additional support to protect themselves from the virus, and we have launched a dedicated helpline - 0300 123 7031 - which is available 7 days a week, between 8am and 7pm. This helpline will provide advice, support and, where necessary, make arrangements for food, medical equipment and social contact.
We’re asking people to stay alert to scams that are being seen across the country with advice available on our website and we are supporting residents struggling financially as a result of Covid-19, through a fund set up to support reductions in Council Tax.
Working with our communities
Community spirit will be absolutely vital in getting us all through the challenges that we currently face, and a huge amount is already happening.
More than 1500 of our residents have already signed up as volunteers to support some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. They will be critical to us in making sure that people have access to food, medical supplies or social contact. I’d like to thank everyone who’s volunteered so far and there’s still chance to sign up if you haven’t already through a ‘How Can You Help’ link on our Covid-19 webpage.
We have also set up a Community Response Fund worth £250,000 to help local causes. Yesterday we received the fantastic news that the fund has been boosted by a £250,000 donation from Westminster Foundation for Democracy. This very generous gift now means that £500,000 is available as emergency funding to support established and new local community initiatives and the vulnerable people they are helping.
All applications over £500 will be considered, and application forms can be accessed by email to email@example.com.
Supporting our local businesses and their employees
All information on the support available for our businesses is available here: https://www.letstalkbizcw.co.uk/News/COVID-19-guidance-for-employers-and-businesses. Business owners can register at https://www.letstalkbizcw.co.uk/Register to receive regular updates, support and advice.
We continue to request details from the 6,000 local businesses eligible for a Business Rate Support Grant, which will provide much-needed financial assistance to them at a time of considerable financial difficulty. CH1 BID has produced a webpage for businesses to share ways they can offer support, such as delivery services, online sales or takeaway food and drink.
Keeping Council services running
The Council’s priority, and that of our partners, continues to be to protect those most at risk in our communities. However, we also need to make sure that we continue to deliver the key front-line services that we’re responsible for delivering on a daily basis.
From supporting over 250 schools and nurseries and safeguarding hundreds of our most vulnerable children, families and adults to providing support to our businesses, collecting waste and maintaining the quality of our roads, council staff are working around the clock.
All of these services and many more will be increasingly impacted by Covid-19. Some will need to be prioritised, with staff already being redeployed to help us manage those priority areas; and some will need to be delivered differently or temporarily scaled back. We are all working together to fully understand the fast-developing situation that we face, and respond to it as quickly and effectively as possible. Resident’s best interests are at the forefront of every decision we make.
Communicating with our residents
At this uncertain and worrying time, we want to make sure that all our residents and businesses know exactly what we are doing and where they can find information and advice.
You can find everything you need to know by visiting https://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/news-and-views/incidents/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus.aspx.