Council Leader Richard Watts blogs on the Council’s work through the Coronavirus outbreak and what you can do to help.
We are heading into an unprecedented national crisis of which none of us have witnessed before.
Islington’s Labour-run Council is determined to do everything we can to protect everyone in the borough, ensuring people, at the very least, have food, shelter and medicines, as well as someone to talk to.
We are providing support and assistance to individuals and businesses affected by this outbreak, many will be wondering where their next pay cheque is coming from and we are here to help. The Government has announced some support but we know it is not enough and not aimed at the right people.
I support the measures the Labour Party proposed earlier this week to support those affected, including increased Statutory Sick Pay from day one and support for renters who may have seen their income cut due to the virus. No one should be penalised for doing the right thing and staying at home.
I want to personally reassure our residents that you will always have a roof over your head, you will always have access to food and vital medicines, and you will not be forgotten during this crisis.
To the businesses in Islington, please tell us what you need. While the Government announced a range of measures and said this will be communicated through local councils, we have heard nothing from them. I am urging the Government to tell us what is available to our local businesses who so desperately need support, and when it will be forthcoming.
But while we will do the right thing to work with you, we ask that you do the right thing and do not look to ‘profiteer’ from the crisis. Many items such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser are in high demand but we have seen reports of some shops putting these items up to extortionate prices. This means some of our less well-off residents can’t afford to buy items they need. Please be sensible and act in a compassionate way to your fellow residents.
Everyone in Islington has a part to play in fighting this virus. Social distancing is vital to keeping transmissions to a minimum and protecting the most vulnerable. Work from home if you can, only travel if necessary and don’t go to pubs, restaurants and cafes. I know many will find this difficult but the more people follow the advice, the more we can stop more people getting ill and reduce the number of deaths from coronavirus.
Follow NHS guidance on washing your hands and stopping the spread of the virus.
Everyone can play their part in stopping the spread of the virus and mitigating the impact. I am calling on residents to only buy what they need. The supermarkets have more than enough food as long as everyone is sensible. Also, shop local. Your local corner shop has plenty of food and needs the business at a time like this.
We have had too many messages to count from residents across our borough with offers to help in any way possible. I can’t describe my pride at how compassionate and caring the people of Islington are. Your help will be invaluable in the weeks and, possibly, months ahead as we make sure that those in need get the help they require.
We are working with volunteers to make sure everyone is getting the help they need. Islington is a fantastic borough, that pulls together at difficult time and I know that by working together as a community, we will get through this incredibly challenging situation.
I am delighted to announced that the Council has significantly raised its financial support for residents during this crisis, to ensure we can help our residents when they need us most.
We have launched a new ‘We are Islington’ helpline, set up to support those who need help with getting food, medicine, or practical support. If you, or someone you know, would benefit from this type of support then get in touch. Call us on: 020 7527 8222 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a business, or an individual, that would like to join our network of volunteers, please contact Voluntary Action Islington for more information. We are especially keen to hear from people who can help collect and deliver food and medicine or befriend a lonely resident over the phone. You will be given advice and support to keep you safe.
Donations are also welcome and are being organised by our partner, local charity, Islington Giving. Every penny you give to this fund will go to people who are isolated, anxious and in most need of financial support through this crisis.
This may be a crisis unprecedented in most of our lifetimes and it will affect a lot of people, but I know that Islington is full of strong, caring people who, with our help, will ensure no one is forgotten through all of this.