Coronavirus has created additional challenges for everyone in our area, writes Keighley MP Robbie Moore.

Businesses have noticed a change in consumer spending, charities have had to adapt to new ways of delivering their services and raising funds has become even harder. The recent parliamentary recess has given me a valuable opportunity to learn first hand the challenges people are facing across the constituency.

The small businesses that create jobs and contribute to the character of our area have all had to adapt to customers spending differently. This month I met with the team at H Brook’s DIY store in Keighley who have had to ask their customers to take additional precautions while browsing instore. An increase in DIY has meant they’ve struggled to stay fully stocked. The Ilkley brewery is continuing to put the constituency on the map in pubs and supermarket shelves around the UK. Despite this, when I met them recently they were still only serving 25% of their regular customer base. They have adapted to a new way of working, with more of their trade being delivered to customer’s homes while the pubs were closed.

Restaurants and hospitality businesses have all experienced a major change in how they provide their services to customers. To help give their customers the confidence to go back safely businesses in the hospitality sector enacted major changes to the way they operate. Additional cleanliness routines have been installed and social distancing and track and trace is enforced by businesses across Keighley, Ilkley and the Worth Valley.

In turn, our government has given the hospitality businesses in my constituency unprecedented levels of support to give further confidence to residents thinking about supporting the hospitality industry. 3962 businesses across Yorkshire and the Humber participated in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme which gave diners at restaurants, cafes and bars 50% off their bills up to £10 throughout August. Gavin Patterson, who manages the Craven Heifer in Addingham welcomed the scheme. He told me: “We’re very grateful for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. This latest initiative from the government has helped us tremendously. Leaving party politics aside I believe the assistance that UK businesses have received during this pandemic has been amazing.” I hope businesses and diners across the constituency had an enjoyable and successful return throughout August.

Charities across the constituency have stepped up to the plate where people have needed their help despite many of them losing their traditional sources of income. Roshni Ghar are a charity which provides invaluable mental health support to women in Keighley and its surrounding area. Unable to provide the typical face to face services, they’ve had to adapt to online provision, meaning clients without access to broadband could be missing out. For charities like Roshni Ghar, delivering on our manifesto commitment to spend £5 billion on the nation’s broadband infrastructure is more vital now than ever before.

I also met the team at Homeless Not Hopeless to hear how their vital service has provided support to the most vulnerable people in our society at a time of additional need. Matt, who set the charity up nine months ago, has seen an increase in demand for the charity’s vital service over the period of the Covid crisis. Through all of the immense challenges the last few months have thrown at us, groups like Homeless Not Hopeless have reminded us all of the incredible community spirit that exists in our area.

Finally, staff in all of our schools have been working hard making changes to their classrooms so they’re Covid-secure in preparation for the full return in September. The government has helped out by providing £560 million to improve school buildings around the country. St. Joseph’s, Haworth Primary and Ilkley Grammar School are all set to benefit. The Chief Medical Officer has made it clear that there is a small risk of contracting the virus in schools, but the damage to children’s development will be far greater if they are kept away from school for much longer. That is why we have a moral imperative to support our schools as they get their students back to class this September.

Some teachers and students will understandably be more anxious about going back. That is why I recently asked the Secretary of State for Education in the House of Commons what support teachers and educational professionals would receive. I was glad to hear that our government has established a £9 million fund to support potential mental health issues raised by the return to school.

As schools return, so does Parliament, and I will continue to do all I can to ensure that residents and businesses across Keighley and Ilkley receive the support they need to get back to as close to normal as possible.