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Supporting vulnerable people through the coronavirus crisis: here’s how

Sandwell Council has shared some clear ways in which the Sandwell business community can help our borough’s most vulnerable people through this time of crisis.

The council is calling on businesses and residents who can safely help to get in touch. Many have already offered support.

Council staff from non-critical services are voluntarily moving as fast as possible to support people who are self-isolating with no family, friends or neighbours to help them. The council aims to have arrangements fully in place later this week.

The council is also pouring more resources into critical council services such as adult social care, particularly for people who receive care in their own home, as well as helping homeless and vulnerable people, and safeguarding children and young people.

Local businesses and residents are encouraged to join the council and offer any assistance, in a safe way and in line with new government guidelines announced on Monday.

You can help by:

* Making a donation or offer of support at www.sandwell.gov.uk/coronavirusdonate.

* Volunteering to help (if you can safely do so). Please go to www.scvo.info/can-you-help and complete the online form. SCVO (Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations) is coordinating volunteers.

Businesses may also be able to donate supplies to those who are self-isolating or have employees with time to help.

Residents may be able to volunteer to keep in touch with or help deliver items to households that are self-isolating, while observing the new government guidance on keeping away from others at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Yvonne Davies said she had already been approached multiple times by Sandwell firms with enquiries about how they could donate cash, goods and services free, to help residents facing financial hardship.

She said she wanted to express her heartfelt thanks and encouraged people to come forward if they felt they could help.

Councillor Davies said: “Our staff are working round the clock not only to keep the council running in these difficult times, but to transfer the employees we have available as quickly as we can to critical areas where we need extra resources.

“It is clear to us all, I think, that we are facing real challenges – and the way the people and businesses of Sandwell, both our staff and our communities, are pulling together is an absolute revelation.

“We have remarkable people here whose first thought is how they can help others.

“I really shouldn’t still be surprised by them – but sometimes people can just amaze you.”

Councillor Davies said she would make sure any financial or other donations would be ringfenced to support people facing financial hardship.

The business community in Sandwell has also rallied to support frontline NHS staff, with a lorry full of essential items heading this week to staff who work at Sandwell Hospital and City Hospital who may have no time to shop themselves or find the shelves empty when they do.

For further details of Sandwell Council’s response to the pandemic, how people and businesses can help, and support available (including for businesses in Sandwell), visit www.sandwell.gov.uk/coronavirus and Think Sandwell’s business page. The Black Country Chamber of Commerce has comprehensive business guidance too.

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