In these unprecedented times there are things we can all do to help each other. Here, Bradford Council leader SUSAN HINCHCLIFFE explains what the authority is pledging to residents, communities and businesses across the district.

Coronavirus brings challenges that few of us have ever seen before. Everyone shares worries and concerns about what the coming weeks and months may bring but it’s also gratifying to see people helping each other and ringing old friends to make sure they are OK.

Bradford Council and its partners have well-rehearsed plans in place to ensure that vital services continue to be delivered, especially to those that provide care to our most vulnerable children and adults.

We know that many businesses and employees face uncertain futures. Government has made announcements about billions of pounds of support and we will soon have information about how this will be distributed. We are working together to prepare a package that offers rate relief, financial support to people experiencing hardship and alternative employment to those made redundant as a result of the crisis.

We are determined to ensure that everyone in need is provided for, no matter what their circumstances.

Among this District’s greatest assets are our abiding sense of community, our long standing traditions of looking out for each other, reaching out to those in need, rolling our up our sleeves, getting things done. These qualities are hard-wired into our DNA and we will be working to harness that energy, goodwill and determination to do the right thing to help keep everyone in every community safe and well.

Our public services have many years of experience of planning for emergencies which we are putting into practice. But this is the time when everyone must play their part and be the best they can be. We must all wash our hands, reduce social contact and stay at home if we show symptoms. And there are simple things we can do to help, like looking out for neighbours, donating food or cash to food banks, and shopping responsibly.

We don’t know how long the emergency will last. But what we do know is that by pulling together, doing the right things for ourselves and for others, we will get through.

  • If you want to get involved in volunteering, please contact 01274 431000.

Working together we will:

Ensure that vulnerable people get the health and social care they need

Making sure the most vulnerable people are looked after properly is a major priority for us all.

We are working closely together with care providers to ensure that people are protected from infection and kept out of hospital while continuing to get the care they need. We are taking action so that providers have the protective equipment required to do their jobs safely.

We are making sure we have enough people on the ground so that anyone needing health care for any new or existing conditions is able to access it. For example, the University of Bradford is working with the Council and health and care services to sustain placements of third-year students to support capacity.

To reduce the risk of spreading infection, we must have strict restrictions on the numbers of family and friends visiting hospitals and care homes. It also means that planned care may be delayed.

We ask people for their understanding and to work with us as these difficult decisions are made.

Support our communities to make sure that everyone who needs help can get it

Some people rely on family, friends and neighbours for care and support. Coronavirus will likely disrupt these networks.

We know that others have no local support at all.

That’s why we are working together with communities and councillors to identify and contact people in need of help, who may be at risk or who just need some reassurance. Together we are mobilising resources and volunteers to make sure that everyone who needs support gets it and is able to stay safe and well.

Many people are coming forward to volunteer and between us we are working with local organisations to coordinate action so that everyone, including carers, gets the help they need.

As part of this, the Council is providing funding to make sure that food banks can continue to support people. There are some simple things that people can do if they want to help: look out for neighbours, donate food or cash to food banks and shop responsibly so there’s enough food and supplies on the shelves for everyone.

Help our businesses and workers to stay resilient

This is a critical time for our thousands of businesses. Plans are already in place to extend the business rates retail relief scheme and to extend business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

The Council is looking at bringing forward its commitment to pay suppliers within 28 days and we have assembled a team to deliver extra business support services.

The Invest in Bradford team is offering additional support and guidance. We’re also working with local manufacturers that may have capacity to support production of respirators and other medical equipment.

To help people who face redundancy or unpaid leave, we are developing a recruitment programme offering opportunities in public services to help meet the demands of the crisis.

  • For business rates advice, please call 01274 7437744. (10am-4.45pm Mon-Thu; 10am-4.15pm Fri).

Keep essential services running

Between us we have decades of experience of planning for emergencies. Be assured that everyone has prepared plans to keep vital services, including emergency services, working under the most extraordinary circumstances.

This includes making the most of all our assets by identifying the most important activities, working flexibly to share resources and staff and supporting people to work from home.

We are reviewing contracts with voluntary and community sector partners to allow us to adapt to current circumstances and help to deliver the core services that are needed to see us through.

Reluctantly, we have had to close theatres, museums and leisure centres for the time being.

Keep people informed about what to do, where to go for help and how to support each other

Communicating quickly and effectively with residents, businesses and community organisations is one of the most important things that we can do in a rapidly changing situation.

This includes listening to concerns as well as providing trusted information, advice and reassurance and helping people to adapt to the circumstances.

We meet frequently to exchange information and intelligence, update each other on national advice and guidance and agree how best to communicate what people can do to help themselves and to help others.

We are providing information and advice through the Council’s web page, local media, e-newsletters and social media via the Council’s Twitter @bradfordmdc and Facebook accounts.