We would both like to begin by expressing our heartfelt thanks for the tremendous efforts of our partners to help ensure our city responds as effectively as possible to Covid-19. No-one is in any doubt about the scale of the challenge we face but we have been overwhelmed by the resilience and resourcefulness of our partners, who have gone ‘above and beyond’, and as ever have shown what a compassionate city we share.
We remain focused on delivering much needed support to our communities and businesses, and protecting our most vulnerable citizens. With 8,000 employees now working at home, the way we are working has changed but we are determined that critical public services will keep running alongside our wider response to Covid-19. The fact that we have still collected 700,000 bins in the last fortnight shows how hard staff are working to ensure the success of this approach.
We are thinking about what needs to be done when we return to a new normal, and recognise that rebuilding our economy will be crucial for the long-term social and economic wellbeing of the city, so we are taking action to make sure we are well placed to support a strong recovery once national emergency measures come to an end. We have already acted to ensure £30million of support has reached local businesses.
As a reminder for any local businesses looking for advice, information or support, there is information on the LEP business support site and we also have dedicated pages on our own website, which includes details about how to apply for the government’s grant for small businesses.
What we need from all our partners now is help in raising awareness of those vitally important messages around staying at home, staying safe and saving lives. Anything you can do to amplify the public information being issued by the Council either via the virtual newsroom or the LCC News Twitter account would be hugely appreciated.
Equally we are keen to share ways in which people can volunteer safely and effectively in communities across Leeds. Thank you to all of you who have contributed to this effort through donations and offers of support. We have been amazed by the number of people coming forward to volunteer in the city so far. We now have over 6,000 volunteers who are being matched to opportunities. If people you know offer help, please signpost them to Voluntary Action Leeds or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may already be aware of significant efforts to develop a new emergency food provision for families and individuals experiencing difficulties as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak. It has not been an easy task but hundreds of food parcels are now being packed and delivered by staff and volunteers in a temporary warehouse. Given the increasing demand for this service, Fareshare has set up a focused campaign to allow individuals and companies to donate key items or money to enable further food purchases. Details of the campaign can be found here, with a direct email for anyone who wants to make offers of products or money email@example.com.
We know there is a lot of concern within the city about the availability of testing for frontline workers and shortages in some areas of Personal Protective Equipment. We want to reassure you that, along with partners in the health and social care system, we are continuing to lobby ministers on both these issues and hope to see improvements soon.
Finally, it is really important that we get a better picture of what is happening in the city to complement other data sources to help inform services in the coming weeks and months. We’d therefore be grateful for anything you can do to join in and promote the King’s College London App which allows you to report daily how you’re feeling, whether you’re unwell or currently fit. https://covid.joinzoe.com/.
Once again thank you for all you are doing to help us respond to Covid-19 and for taking some very difficult decisions within your organisations in order to protect the NHS and our communities. It is a challenging time for all of us and our thoughts are with the many families suffering the consequences of the virus – we, of course, send them and the Prime Minister our very best wishes.
Councillor Judith Blake CBE Tom Riordan CBE
Leader of Leeds City Council Chief Executive, Leeds City Council