Councils and Covid-19: The Response Edition #11

June 4, 2020   By Charlotte Morgan, Senior Policy Researcher, NLGN

01/6/20 – 05/6/20

Local authorities are indispensable in our current crisis and are therefore under enormous pressure. They manage the public services that people are increasingly reliant on, support the most vulnerable people in our communities, and hold information that keeps local people safe and informed. In this time of great uncertainty, councils are taking new, radical and innovative steps to deal with the crisis and protect their residents. We’re compiling some here and will update it weekly.

If you would like to share examples of how your local authority is responding to COVID-19, please write to Charlotte Morgan – @cmorgan_9.

Supporting residents in need

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council appealed to private landlords to consider letting their properties to people affected by homelessness. People who were temporarily housed at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown have received weeks of dedicated support from council officers, and many have now progressed to a stage where they are able to have a stable home. The council is offering a support package to private landlords willing to rent to these individuals, which includes initial rent and deposit paid by the council up front and a named officer to call about any issues with the tenancy.

Kent County Council launched a ‘Kent Toys for the Disabled Scheme’, which enables parents of disabled children aged 5-17 years and in need of extra support in lockdown to apply for the purchase of toys or equipment up to the value of £250 per child. The council is using funding normally set aside for providing respite activities for disabled children to pay for the scheme, which is being administered by Kent-based children’s charity We Are Beams.

With the support of local businesses and chef Rahila Hussain, Kirklees Council delivered special food-based gift packs to children in care and care leavers to help them celebrate Eid in lockdown.

Stockport Council donated state-of-the-art tablets to every care home in the borough to enable isolated care home residents to keep in touch with their loved ones.

Supporting community volunteers

Calderdale Safeguarding Partnerships, including Calderdale Council, delivered three training sessions on Zoom to help nearly 150 of their COVID-19 response volunteers understand how to identify and report safeguarding issues.

Additional funding

Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group launched a new ‘Creating Resilience within Sunderland Communities’ crowdfunding appeal. The campaign aims to raise a total of £30,000 (half of which will be match-funding) to support local food banks and help provide wrap-around services to bring the city’s most vulnerable residents out of crisis in the longer term.

Lambeth Council established the Lambeth Local Economy Hardship Fund, which will award grants from £5,000 to £25,000 for a range of badly hit businesses, charities and not-for-profit organisations in a bid to boost their chances of survival and recovery. The fund is made up of national government funding topped up with the council’s own financial resources.

Preparing for relaxation of lockdown

Bolton Council asked residents to pinpoint locations where social distancing is difficult and/or bad driving is endangering cyclists. As part of the #SafeStreetsSaveLives campaign, the council will introduce enhanced spaces for pedestrians and people on bikes across the borough and wants local communities to help shape its proposals.

Westminster City Council introduced temporary ‘school streets’ to ban cars from areas near ten schools during drop-off and collection times. This initiative is designed to help children, parents and staff walk or cycle to and from school safely and maintain social distancing.

Self-isolation activities

Wokingham Borough Council is posting sunflower seeds to residents in developments throughout the borough.

Welwyn Hatfield Youth Council organised an art competition on the theme of ‘Welwyn Hatfield and the Environment’ for residents aged 0-11 and 12-16 years. Entrants will have the chance to win a £50 Love2Shop voucher.

We will be continuing to update these examples weekly. Please write to Charlotte Morgan – to submit your own.

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