Mayor Damien Egan outlines Lewisham’s response to the Covid 19 health emergency
When I am asked what makes Lewisham so special, I always say it’s our people and the strength of our community. In these unprecedented times, the outpouring of community spirit has made me proud to be Mayor of this wonderful borough.
As I write, the situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing daily. Coronavirus is a public health emergency and we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of this disease.
But we know that it is having a very significant impact on life in Lewisham.
Protecting our most vulnerable residents: From housing to schools to keeping streets clean, people rely on Lewisham Council for a wide range of services.
In these uncertain times, our role in supporting the community and our most vulnerable residents is all the more important. We are therefore moving towards running only critical services and are diverting many of our staff to help those most in need.
The government’s measures requiring all non-essential shops to be closed and restricting non-essential travel has seen many Lewisham businesses close their doors, and people lose their jobs. Many schools are remaining open only to the children of key workers.
Many residents are understandably very concerned about paying the bills and looking after themselves and their loved ones. We have contacted our most vulnerable residents identified on the government’s ‘shield’ list and have arranged for food packages and other support to be delivered to them.
But we know there are many other residents who need support and are working with partners to identify them too. This includes adults and children who may be at increased risk of domestic violence. Anyone who is concerned about gender-based violence can contact our Athena Service in complete confidence.
Another priority is supporting children who receive free school meals but are currently not in school. The government has announced they will receive vouchers – £15 per child per week – but at the time of writing the scheme is yet to launch so we are taking action now.
The situation is fast-moving and we are working quickly with officers, schools and the community to ensure no child goes hungry.
I have written to all residents and we have set up a dedicated coronavirus contact centre so people can ask about the Council’s response to the coronavirus or seek support and guidance.
You can email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8314 3535 if you do not have access to email. Our phone lines are extremely busy, so please use email if you can.
An overwhelming community response: The community’s response to the coronavirus has shown Lewisham at its best. The Council is working with Lewisham Local, Age UK and Voluntary Services Lewisham to coordinate our community response so we can help our most vulnerable residents.
Within days of launching, over 1,000 residents signed up to Lewisham Local’s coronavirus community response hub. From delivering food and supplies to befriending to IT support, there are many ways that people can support those in need. To register to volunteer, or to report details of someone in need of help, visit www.lewishamlocal.com
I have also launched a one-off emergency appeal for Lewisham Foodbank who are experiencing a big rise in demand as a result of the coronavirus.
Every penny of donations goes directly to the Foodbank so they can buy items they are short of. At the time of writing the appeal has raised over £60,000.
If you would also like to consider donating please visit www.lewishamfoodbankappeal.co.uk
Supporting local businesses: Lewisham is the micro and start-up business capital of London so the government requirements for all non-essential shops to close are having a big impact in our borough.
The Council will be doing all it can in the coming weeks and months to mitigate the impact on the local economy that our small business owners have worked so hard to build.
I have written to all Lewisham businesses to let them know how we are supporting them, and the Council will be contacting local businesses that are affected by the government’s Small Business Grant Scheme.
I have been so impressed by the local Lewisham businesses who have gone above and beyond to support their communities, such as restaurants providing affordable meals for families on low incomes and businesses offering office space and supplies for key workers.
To contact the Council about support for your business, please email email@example.com
Thank you: The next few weeks and months may be uncertain but Lewisham Council will always be on the side of the community.
We have been working closely with the NHS and emergency services, and been lobbying the government to support residents – asking them to provide greater support for self-employed people and repatriate Lewisham residents stranded overseas by the coronavirus.Information and advice from the government is constantly updating. All of the latest information can be found on the Council website at www.lewisham.gov.uk/coronavirus. You can also sign up to receive regular emails from me and the Council at www.lewisham.gov.uk/emailupdates. Follow the mayor on Twitter @damienegan