Throwing a lifeline to the most vulnerable during COVID-19

Regions across the UK are playing a key role implementing central government policy and ensuring aid gets to the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, and partners across all sectors in the Central South have risen to the challenge and strengthened relationships as a result.

Despite being an easy target for criticism pre-lockdown, local and regional councils have been working tirelessly to implement emergency policies introduced by central government, and to keep key services running throughout the ongoing pandemic.  They have rightly gained huge respect from the local communities that they serve by ensuring critical services ranging from social care to refuse collection continue during lockdown, despite enormous pressures and while playing a key role in delivering aid directly to individuals identified by the NHS as being particularly high-risk.

Of course, councils haven’t been doing this alone – invaluable support has been provided by the private and third sectors to ease some of the challenges presented by COVID-19 and ensure funding gets to people and organisations as quickly as possible.  The Central South consortium, led by Business South, is playing a key role in championing the region and strengthening links between sectors. It has been working closely with the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) in our region, Solent LEP and Enterprise M3, which have been working hard to support businesses by distributing funds, providing valuable information and support, helping to provide clarity around government messaging and acting as a hub for businesses to find and share support.

Despite their own challenges, charities responsible providing additional support to the most vulnerable members of our society, such as Age UK and The Society of St James, have gone to extraordinary lengths to support NHS partners and local communities during the pandemic. Similarly, local schools, colleges and universities in Hampshire are using their technology departments to produce protective face shields for use as PPE and offering boarding houses as accommodation for NHS staff.

In turn, charities are being offered support to ensure resilience at this critical time.  For example, the affordable housing provider, VIVID, is working with the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation to allocate some of the £250,000 it has offered to charities in their time of need. Some of those set to benefit include local foodbanks and community groups, and City Catering Southampton, which is working to provide free school meals.

Truly effective regional partnership combined with extraordinary generosity demonstrated by organisations and individuals across the Central South will have a huge impact on not only the number of people who survive the pandemic but how we all thrive beyond it, and this is being replicated throughout the UK. It’s incredibly humbling to witness so many individuals and organisations rising to this unprecedented challenge by working together to do the right thing by putting people first to ease the collective burden.