Easter message and update on council services and support during the coronavirus crisis
The Leader of Leeds City Council has called on everyone in the city to continue to follow the rules on staying home and social distancing over the Easter weekend.
With good weather expected people in the city would normally be out enjoying the sunshine, public spaces and visitor attractions, and taking part in outdoor activities together during the long weekend.
This Easter, however, is very different and the Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake is calling on everyone in Leeds to continue to follow the national rules on staying at home and respecting social distancing in order to help save lives in the current coronavirus crisis.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“We know the current situation is challenging for all of us, and if the weather is nice people will want to go out but it is absolutely crucial that people play their part over the Easter weekend by staying home and following the rules to help save lives and protect the NHS.
“While most people are doing the right thing we know there is unfortunately a minority who are disregarding the rules and think they don’t apply to them. I would say to those people please stop so we can all get through this as quickly as possible and help minimise the number of lives lost.
“I would like to thank everyone who is working incredibly hard to keep our city running and especially our heroic NHS and care staff, the key frontline workers and everyone who has volunteered to help. It has been really humbling to see how people from all communities and walks of life are coming together to make the best of this very strange and awful situation.
“We do continue to have major concerns around the lack of personal protective equipment for key health and care staff which must be addressed quickly, and the testing programme for Covid-19 needs to be made as fast and comprehensive as possible.
“As a council we remain firmly committed to doing everything we possibly can to help our people and businesses get through this difficult time as best we can, and if we remain resolute and united to defeat this virus together we will succeed.”
The council is continuing to work with partners across all aspects of life in the city to deliver services as effectively as possible, and especially to support the most vulnerable members of communities. Letters are to be sent to every household in Leeds from later this week with information on support available to help residents look after themselves and one another.
An update on the council’s work includes:
- Directly contacting more than 1800 people who have requested help to get supplies. All have been sent a text or email to make sure they know that they can call the helpline number on 0113 378 1877. So far 585 have received a basic box delivered to their door, with others supported through volunteer-assisted shopping and emergency food deliveries arranged locally.
- Launching a food donation campaign in partnership with FareShare, with companies able to donate food at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate money to help buy and distribute food at https://investorsincommunity.org/charity/255/project/836.
- Working with Voluntary Action Leeds and third sector groups to recruit more than 7,500 local community volunteers who are now being matched with members of the public to help in a coordinated and safe way. For more information visit doinggoodleeds.org.uk.
- Continuing to staff more than 200 schools across the city which remain open attended by 1,700 children from families of key workers or to support vulnerable families. These schools will remain open over the Easter holidays.
- More than 240 early years settings (including childminders) continue to operate providing essential childcare for key workers.
- Providing more than 6,500 children with free school meals through schools and local 28 hubs across Leeds, with special diet provision in place to ensure all children can access appropriate food which meets their dietary needs.
- Continuing to provide regular contact and homecare visits where necessary with vulnerable residents and families through joint working with partners.
- Prioritising collections of over 700,000 black and green bins over the past fortnight to ensure essential household waste services are not affected.
- Writing to social housing tenants with updates on essential information concerning rents, council tax support, repairs, health and wellbeing and the need to be vigilant against scams.
- Every council tenant aged 70 and over is being contacted by a housing officer to ensure that they are safe and well.
- Retirement LIFE Support Officers are currently making around 10,000 telephone contacts per week to support more than 4,000 tenants to live independently in their homes.
- Support for homeless and rough sleepers to have secure accommodation and promoting the Big Change Leeds alternative giving campaign to reduce ongoing begging and the health risks associated with direct contact.
- Offering increased online learning content through the museums and galleries, arts and libraries services to help with home schooling, as well as Active Leeds guides on maintaining fitness and mental health at home during the lockdown. Videos posted on YouTube in the last month by the museums and galleries service have received more than 85,000 views.
- Creating a dedicated information webpage at https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus which has already received more than 110,000 visits.
- Having half of the council’s 14,000 staff able to work from home, with secure remote access to the council’s IT network and the business systems which keep essential services running.
- Training and redeploying staff to keep key services running and to support voluntary schemes. Examples include household waste sorting centre staff re-training as bin wagon loaders, youth workers moving into children’s residential care and staff from the council’s nurseries and cleaning teams moving over to support childcare and cleaning in NHS hospitals.
- Public health officers are working with Healthwatch, Leeds Involving People and other Third Sector organisations to develop a Community and Voluntary sector bulletin. The first of these has been emailed out to local groups.
The council is also undertaking significant work to support businesses in the city and those self-employed who have been impacted by the coronavirus restrictions.
A dedicated webpage offering guidance and information has been set up at https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus/business which has received 50,000 visits.
The council has now issued business rate grants totalling £39.4million to more than 2,400 businesses in the city receiving support of between £10,000 and £25,000. The council is calling on any business which has not yet applied to register their details through the portal on the webpage https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus/business.
The council is also working as part of a regional programme to recruit 500 retired former business leaders to act as mentors to 500 young entrepreneurs who may be struggling currently.
For all the latest information on Leeds City Council support go to https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus.