Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville said:
At the end of a very challenging week, I wanted to write to Hackney residents to thank you all for the incredible way in which you have responded to these unprecedented circumstances. This has been such a tough few days, especially for our older people who are already self-isolating, and children and young people, whose school life and education has been disrupted in such an extreme way. Despite all the challenges, so many people in Hackney are thinking first and foremost about how they can help others
Thousands of people have joined local groups, through social media, offering their time and support, and hundreds have contacted me directly. I am so very grateful to everyone who has volunteered time and resources and I wanted to assure you that we are working hard to put in place the best way to coordinate all of this. I am also very, very grateful to the existing voluntary and community sector in Hackney, one of the strongest in the UK. These groups are rising to this challenge, and we are doing everything we can to support them.
Our first action has been to work with the Hackney Volunteer Centre to reach out to and coordinate the many trained and DBS (criminal records) checked volunteers in Hackney to ask for their help and make sure they are being deployed in the right places.
We have to build something that will last. The Council has a statutory responsibility to provide and coordinate humanitarian assistance. In a crisis of this scale, this will mean a coordination of council services, the voluntary sector, and the wider community. We have to put in place systems to manage volunteering that will be sustainable over many months, and will put the safety of vulnerable residents at its heart. This is just the beginning, and as things get more difficult over the coming weeks, more and more people will need help. Many of those will be people who have never needed to rely on assistance until now.
Secondly we have to make sure that people are safe, and that in trying to help we don’t inadvertently expose our neighbours to greater risk. That’s why we’ve put in place some basic guidelines to help local groups, which you will see below. Many have put similar ideas in place already, but others want this advice.
Over the next week, we’ll be setting up a web portal where people who want to volunteer can register, and people who need assistance can also put in requests for help. We will also be setting up a phone line for those who need help but don’t have access to the Internet.
That can’t be done overnight, but council officers and our partners in the voluntary sector are working flat out to achieve it as soon as possible. We hope to be able to launch all this next week. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help, from donating money to local groups, to keeping an eye on neighbours, all of which are outlined below.
Meanwhile, council staff are tirelessly working to continue essential frontline services, ensuring that some of our most vulnerable residents get the support they need. I know that many of you will be worried about your jobs, income and family, and many local businesses are worried about the future. We will be here for you. While our focus this week has been on an emergency public health response, you’ll hear more next week about the measures we will take to support those who need our help.
Today, together with Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble, I’ve also written to every student in Hackney, many of whom will be leaving school this afternoon unsure of when they will return. I want to emphasise how proud we are of them, and we will do everything to continue to support their learning in the coming months.
Yesterday we announced that no Hackney Council tenant would face eviction due to this crisis, and we have called on Government to put clear guarantees in place for private tenants.
Thank you again for your generosity and resilience. I will keep you up to date as things develop.
Volunteering in Hackney
What we have done
Set up a volunteering and community task group to link up with Hackney’s Humanitarian Assistance Group.
Set up a programme with Hackney’s established community and voluntary sector to make sure that Hackney’s hundreds of trained and DBS checked volunteers are being deployed where they are most needed.
Lifted restrictions from voluntary groups on how they spend the grants we allocate them.
What we are doing
Setting up a webpage with information for people who want to volunteer their time to support Hackney throughout this crisis.
Setting up a dedicated phone-line for those who are vulnerable and need help, especially those who do not have easy access to online support.
Working closely with Hackney’s Food Poverty Justice Alliance to develop their support and make sure they are ready for the challenging weeks ahead.
How you can help now
You can make a financial donation to Hackney Foodbank
LOOK OUT FOR OTHERS
Keep an eye on your neighbours and people you know, who may need help and support. Stay in touch by phone and online to limit contact.
If you are part of an informal local social media group that is self-organising to coordinate support, please follow the safeguarding guidelines detailed here.