London’s boroughs’ response to the Covid-19 outbreak has seen them work individually and collectively to ensure key critical services are kept running and creating new ones in face of the emergency. There is a huge amount of activity taking place in partnership with the voluntary sector, community faith groups and frontline agencies to protect and support this vibrant and thriving City.
The borough’s job brokerage is engaging supermarkets and large firms in a local industrial estate, such as Ocado, which has demand. The borough has one company with 100+ employees that is soon to close, and it is intending to signpost those affected to opportunities.
Redbridge is currently emailing a weekly vacancy pack with a variety of local ‘essential roles’ and volunteering opportunities, as well as continuing to provide telephone and email support through its employment support service.
Tower Hamlets Council
Tower Hamlets is focusing efforts on making sure that the local supermarkets have a good supply of staff. The borough put out a call last week and received over 230 responses in one day, which it has referred to supermarkets. It has also been helping clients navigate online applications.
It is also focusing on identifying job seekers with skills that can support public realm and environmental health needs to build up a talent pool. The plan is to quickly and remotely interview candidates to get them onto its Internal Temporary Recruitment Service so people can be recruited and employed in a timely manner when needed.
Islington Council launches an interactive directory of small, independent businesses in the borough. Operating during the coronavirus outbreak. All of the businesses listed on the map are operating safely and have been approved by the council’s environmental health team.
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Businesses in Kensington and Chelsea will have an extra safety net, on top of the government’s support package, to support them during the global COVID-19 pandemic with a new £500,000 emergency business interruption fund from the Council. The fund has been designed for sole traders and small businesses with either fewer than 20 employees or a turnover of less than £2 million. Businesses which cannot access other government support will be able to apply for grants up to £5,000 until 31 May 2020.
So far, the council has administered over £26m government grants to more than 1800 businesses in need in the borough.
Southwark Council is investing a further £2m in funds for small businesses that do not qualify for the Government schemes, this is in addition to the £390,000 community grant for charities and voluntary organisations they are providing.
Community and Voluntary Sector
Barnet Council is pledging £125,000 of funding to aid the work of the borough’s voluntary and community groups as they support the people most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The council is contributing £50,000 into the Barnet Community Response Fund and is also committing up to £25,000 to match pound-for-pound public donations. In addition, the council has worked with the trustees of the Edward Harvist Trust to make available a further £50,000 of their allocation to Barnet as a Covid-19 Sustainability Fund.
The council and its partners organisations have launched the Choose Your Future campaign - a local package of online and telephone services to connect with young people throughout lockdown. Young people in Croydon are being encouraged to access a huge range of activities, opportunities, information and support to help them stay safe and well during Covid-19.
Council funds have been set up to support groups whose costs have been hit by Covid-19. This includes an emergency fund, with over £120,000 awarded to date to voluntary and community groups facing financial challenges as a direct result of Covid-19 costs; a £135,000 Cultural Relief Fund; and a council grant fund of £10,000 taken up by over 1,200 small businesses so far that receive small business or rural rate relief.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council
Hammersmith & Fulham launched its Community Aid Network (H&F CAN) a week before the lockdown. The network now has more than 2,000 registered volunteers and a dedicated seven-day call centre offering food parcels through H&F Foodbank, befriending phone calls for the lonely and isolated, personal shopping, and support for shielded residents. Volunteers are also working at a new H&F Foodbank operation based at Olympia London, arranged by the council. CAN has embedded a CRM system including automated facilities to strengthen pro-active outreach to shielded residents and filter volunteers into ongoing community resilience work.
H&F’s has produced a hard-hitting public health advertising campaign featuring 200 lamp column banners across the borough urging residents to ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ and to ‘Practise Safe Distancing’. The campaign also featured 500 vinyl banners in parks and adverts on major digital billboard sites. The designs went to print before the Government unveiled its own Stay Home messaging and have been used by other London boroughs, as well as featured by The Guardian, BBC and Le Monde.
The council is working with H4All, a partnership of five leading local charities, to provide a community support service for local residents who are unable to leave the house because they're ill, caring for others or are self-isolating due to coronavirus and do not have a friend, neighbour or family member available to support them.
Hounslow’s Community Hub has been making sure thousands of vulnerable and isolated people have been getting the support and supplies they need. The Hub is a joint community effort, with the Council working with voluntary and community partners, businesses and hundreds of local volunteers.
To date, the Hub has delivered about 4,500 parcels containing a wide variety of fresh and healthy food, medical supplies, household goods and pet food.There’s also a helpline and email address for other support, and a befriending service for isolated residents.
Since opening in March, staff running the Hub’s call centre, who have been redeployed from other roles such as customer services and libraries, have directly contacted over 10,000 vulnerable residents.Staff have been reaching out to this group, identified by the NHS as needing ‘shielding’, to talk to them about what support they need and how the Council can help. Staff have also received over 7,000 phone calls and emails from residents in need, or from people who are concerned about someone they think may need help. The number of residents who have offered to help now tops 450, and they’re being assigned a range of roles, such as befriending, packing and delivering parcels, and collecting prescriptions. More than 80 local groups and businesses are directly involved through donating supplies and helping residents.
We are Islington helpline is run by Islington Council in partnership with local charities, community organisations and mutual aid groups, offering assistance to those in need with food drops, medicine and other practical support.
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
SUEZ are a waste collection service run by RBKC. Refuse collectors are helping out during the coronavirus crisis by checking on the welfare of elderly residents on their rounds. The Coronavirus Hub was set up to help ensure some of the most vulnerable residents get the support they need and co-ordinates council support together with voluntary organisations in the borough.
Kingston Stronger Together was established by Kingston Council and voluntary partners, to ensure residents get the help they need during the coronavirus pandemic.
The council set up a new online hub and phone service working with voluntary sector partners to assist Kingston residents who are isolating or shielding because of the outbreak get the help they need. The network is supporting and coordinating the volunteering efforts across the borough. From delivering prescriptions and providing a new befriending service, to sourcing and delivering meals and food parcels. Over 1000 phone enquiries have been answered from the dedicated Covid-19 support helpline with 5,800 proactive calls out.
The Council’s Neighbourhood Rangers and Cycle Instructors have teamed up with volunteers from Good Gym to deliver 302 medical prescriptions for residents across the borough and 144 vulnerable residents have been paired with a 'buddy'. The network has sourced and distributed over 10,000 frozen meals and more than 2000 food parcels to vulnerable residents. For those who can afford to buy their own food but can’t leave their homes, the council have launched a shopping service and deliver supermarket orders that have been booked for collection.
Every week, there is an exciting line-up of digital events taking place on their Facebook page, including the popular Rhyme Time for Under 5s, anxiety workshops, and e-book reviews.