Council staff serving Birmingham throughout the pandemic
Leader of the Council Cllr Ian Ward blogs about council actions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost two weeks into the Coronavirus lockdown and it's safe to say that we're all living in a very different world.
So much has changed over the last few weeks and we've all had to get used to new ways of living, working and interacting.
But what hasn't changed is the absolute dedication and tireless commitment of the local government community.
Many of our officers and councillors are now working from home, all have seen their usual routine dramatically impacted and I'm proud to say all have risen to the challenge, doing what they do best - serving and supporting the people of Birmingham.
To just to give you a flavour of the ongoing, round-the-clock efforts here in Birmingham, we've:
- Worked with NHS colleagues and Government to co-ordinate the public health response across the city. Communicating vital advice and information to communities and partners.
- Continued to collect waste across the city.
- Sourced food supplies and begun the distribution of food parcels for clinically vulnerable people currently ‘shielding’ themselves.
- Continued to provide social care support to many of our most vulnerable - and in many cases isolated - citizens.
- Worked with our schools to ensure 61,000 children currently receiving free school meals do not go hungry. A Government voucher scheme does not cover the Easter Holidays, so we are stepping in to fill the gap.
- Stepped up help to Birmingham businesses currently struggling in a concerted effort to protect jobs and livelihoods across the city.
- Joined forces with partners to support the city's homeless. Thanks to our partners across the private and voluntary sectors, we have sufficient accommodation to house those that need it and our outreach team has worked hard encouraging a significant number of rough sleepers to come indoors. We will also be providing food parcels and daily checks to those self-isolating in temporary accommodation.
- Clamped down on coronavirus-related scams and on rogue traders, raising awareness, tackling dual pricing and seizing dangerous products.
- Linked up with the city’s voluntary sector umbrella body, Birmingham Voluntary Service Council, to co-ordinate the outstanding community response to the unfolding crisis.
The list goes on and I could just as easily mention our foster carers, cleaners, security staff and many more who continue to serve our city.
I'm immensely proud but in no way surprised at the way Birmingham City Council staff and members are stepping up to an unprecedented challenge. I know council leaders up and down the country would echo that sentiment.
This is what local government does. We're the safety net for so many people, and after a tough decade for councils, our officers are most definitely used to coping in a crisis.
Of course coronavirus is unlike any challenge any of us has faced before and I think council staff deserve two things as we move forward.
They deserve thanks and credit for the job they continue to do - whether that's social care, collecting the bins or one of many more services still being provided.
And they deserve to feel safe.
I've written to the Government urgently requesting more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not only the Council’s own staff, but those working in the city’s care settings. I've also requested that social care workers should be ‘next in-line’ for testing after NHS Staff. Our staff are on the frontline. They must be valued and they deserve protection as they support the most vulnerable across our city. That's the very least they can expect.
It's clear that the current emergency will continue for some time and I want you to rest assured that everyone at Birmingham City Council will continue to rise to the challenge.
When we do return to normality - and that will eventually happen - please remember the council staff and departments that played such a part in the response.
As someone tweeted earlier this week: ‘Not all superheroes wear capes!’