We find ourselves living in unprecedented times, where all of us are being asked to make changes to our lives to protect ourselves and others against a virus that’s sweeping across the world.
I want to reassure everyone that as a council, we are ready to keep vital services running and provide the support everyone needs, especially the elderly and vulnerable. And I know that people in Nottingham will also do their bit to help us all get through this.
The Government has now announced that schools will close at the end of this week, which while it is comforting to have children at home in these uncertain times, I know will be of concern to many families in terms of practical arrangements. We will work with our local schools to see what can be done to address issues like free school meals and childcare arrangements.
We have had to take the difficult decision to close or limit some services and for our staff to work from home where possible - all to limit the spread of Covid-19 while aiming to keep our city running. Among those changes are libraries closing, so I urge anyone wanting to borrow a book to do so before they close at the end of Thursday, as well as moving towards appointment-based arrangements for council services at Loxley House and registrars at the Council House.
We have an excellent council workforce who are dedicated to keeping services running and local people supported and protected from harm. I am grateful to all our staff, including those on the frontline who are keeping services going. We will ensure they are given the support they need to keep doing their important work in different ways.
We are making sure any and all changes to our services, and latest Government advice, is clearly communicated in a range of different ways so that people are fully informed about what we are doing, and what they need to do.
It is by working together that we will make a difference. The council is part of a countywide strategic group of councils and emergency services acting on Government advice, so we can collectively provide a well-informed and coordinated response for our local communities.
We are also working with the voluntary sector, community and faith groups, who all play a vital role in co-ordinating and delivering support for people in need. Local businesses are facing a very difficult time and we are looking at how we can support them as much as possible. We will listen to and act on suggestions we feel can help the situation.
We all need to look out for each other now more than ever, in what can be a confusing, changing environment. We need to find ways to keep safely in contact, check that people are safe and well, and keep in mind the potential impact of our changed daily lives on people’s mental well-being.
You can help by buying just the groceries you need, picking up groceries and phoning people who are self-isolating, checking on neighbours, donating to food banks and of course following advice about hand washing, avoiding close contact and self-isolating when it becomes necessary.
Undoubtedly there will be further changes to come in the weeks and months ahead and we stand ready to respond swiftly and effectively to any new Government guidance.
In Nottingham, I have no doubt that we will find we have the resilience, compassion and tenacity to get through this together.