Councils and COVID-19: The Response Edition #13

June 18, 2020   By Charlotte Morgan, Senior Policy Researcher, NLGN

15/6/20 – 19/6/20

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

Manchester City Council is putting together a bespoke city-wide programme of summer activities for its 87,000 school-aged children and young people to help them overcome the negative impacts of living in isolation for the last few months.

Derby City Council and partners will create a new support hub to deliver accommodation and support for rough sleepers, whose temporary housing arrangements for lockdown are soon coming to an end. The hub will bring housing provision together with primary/emergency healthcare services, policing, mental health and drug/alcohol support and benefits, training and employment services.

Darlington Borough Council organised Letterbox Club educational packs that were distributed to more than 150 looked-after children during lockdown. The packs contained books, learning resources and games, selected according to the child’s age and designed to make learning at home fun and interactive.

Lewisham Council is working with Lewisham Local, Age UK and Voluntary Services Lewisham to coordinate its community response to COVID-19. Individuals, businesses and groups can volunteer to help, and their skills will be matched with Lewisham local voluntary organisations. So far, over 2,000 people have signed up to volunteer.

Additional funding

Hounslow Council launched a new ‘Thriving Communities: Hounslow Response Fund’. The Fund will help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 by supporting the borough’s VCSE sector and awarding grants to projects that promote social connections, mental well-being and skills development.

St Albans Council announced that priority for its Community Grants Fund this year will be given to projects that help people recover from hardships caused by the COVID-19 emergency, such as increasing levels of loneliness and isolation.

Informing communities

In partnership with Bradford Talking Media, Bradford Council published a series of easier-to-read guides on its website to provide more accessible information on COVID-19 for people with learning disabilities.

Coventry City Council worked with the Coventry Interpretation & Translation Unit to produce COVID-19 guidance and handwashing posters in different languages.

Supporting businesses

Enfield Council launched ‘ShopAppy Enfield’, a new online marketplace that will allow shoppers to get essential goods from Enfield retailers delivered directly to their front doors. The council is also hosting online briefings for businesses to find out more about plans to re-open town centres and take part in a Q&A with the Leader of the Council.

The City of London Corporation, in partnership with the City’s Business Improvement Districts, set up an online form for businesses to request on-street signage that will allow their visitors to maintain safe social distancing while queuing.

Preparing for relaxation of lockdown

Adur & Worthing Councils approved a range of initiatives to kick-start the post-lockdown local economy. These include a councils’-owned citizen wi-fi network across public buildings and spaces to combat digital exclusion, a comprehensive Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, and a scheme that could see more alfresco refreshment opportunities created in one of Worthing’s busiest shopping areas.

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

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