It is hard to conceive that the Coronavirus epidemic has been with us locally less than five short months. For most of us it feels a lot, lot longer. You?
Local teamwork of Cambridge City Council, the County Council and hundreds of organisations has provided answers to challenges that none of us have seen in our lives.
Together, we have achieved so much in protecting public health, supporting those in need or self-isolated, and tackled food distribution and food poverty. We have delivered Government support to help protect struggling businesses and charities and help protect jobs and livelihoods, and maintained essential public services. We have such a long list of Cambridge people to thank. Cambridge NHS and hospital staff. So many key workers and deliverers, so many council workers and so many volunteers in Cambridge to thank.
We have learnt plenty and addressed gaps. We all need to continue prioritising the safety of ourselves and others, and remain vigilant. Thank you for your amazing efforts so far, for helping neighbours and friends and relatives, and donating food, funds and assistance to people in need. Please continue all of this.
The City Council has assisted hundreds of local businesses with around £25 million in national funding to date, particularly in challenged businesses like the hospitality sector and the effective, vital recovery of our city centre and wider retail and local small businesses. Including roughly £500,000 in discretionary grants where the Government has set a deadline of 28th August – https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-information-for-businesses. Act now if you’re eligible or you’ll miss out.
Powerful work by local community leaders, charities, faith groups and volunteers in networks across Cambridge has made such a difference, and will continue to be needed to assist people who are unemployed. They will be ready in case of a major outbreak. Thank you to hundreds of you who have sustained support across all our 14 Cambridge wards, assisted by our City Council staff. For how you can help, or get help, see www.cambridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-ask-for-help.
The big problems facing Cambridge can only be resolved by council and voluntary group partnerships.
Meal preparation for families in need includes thousands of cooked meals prepared by Cambridge Sustainable Food, their many volunteer chefs, and the contribution of Councillors and dozens more who have regularly cooked and distributed 1000 meals a week through the summer, plus similar efforts by Cambridge mosques and others. For how people in need can get help, or offer help locally see https://cambridgesustainablefood.org/updates-and-info-covid-19.
Eight local Cambridge food hubs have been operating in Abbey, Arbury, Cherry Hinton, Coleridge, East Chesterton, Queen Edith’s, Romsey and Trumpington, so please donate to them and Cambridge Foodbank https://cambridgecity.foodbank.org.uk/.
Over 140 rough sleepers have been supported by the City Council to come off the streets and we are determined that the strong legacy, working with impressive local charities, will be helping people rebuild their lives assisted by “Housing First” homes and pods around Cambridge. Street Aid also ensures all money it receives goes in grants direct to homeless people https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/street-aid-help-for-people-on-the-streets.
Wider work on Cambridge social and economic recovery continues, including efforts to secure and recreate as many jobs as possible. Our futures, our mental health, and the lives of particularly young adults depend on that, and reinvesting our local spending power. Measures to make the city safer for cycling and walking include a planned second tranche of County Council schemes. We are committed to environmental gains and our Cambridge Climate Change Charter seeking your support and action https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/climate-change.
We are working with our Universities and colleges for a safe return this term. Rules may unavoidably need to be tightened up if cases increase locally, as has happened in other cities. Coronavirus is still a long way from being beaten so our magnificent team effort has to continue. We all have to keep ourselves and our families safe, and keep others safe. Obey the national rules and guidance, wear face coverings, socially distance, wash hands regularly, avoid behaviour likely to increase the risk, and guide others too. We will be ready if there is a second outbreak but far far better if we avoid it. Stay safe, keep your family safe and we can #StaySafeCambridge.
We’ve come a long way but it will still take all your and our efforts until Coronavirus is beaten.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council