We don't need any more volunteers at this stage, but if you are still keen to help, we would encourage you to check on your neighbours and offer support. It could be collecting their shopping, having a chat with them over the fence, or giving them a call to make sure that they are well. We have lots of guidance on this at www.chichester.gov.uk/helpyourneighbour

I also want to thank all of the amazing groups that have formed across the district, one of which is 'Chichester Scrubs' where a community group is making scrubs for our hospital workers. Just incredible! Our parish and town councils have also played a huge role in this crisis, co-ordinating local groups and helping to support those who are vulnerable. Thank you to everyone! I am so proud and thankful that we have such caring communities.

Our communities team have been responding to referrals from the community hub, delivering food to the most vulnerable in our communities. Our wellbeing team have also been carrying out welfare checks over the phone with those who have no one else to talk to. Just a simple chat can make a huge difference to someone's day.

On a really positive note, I'm pleased to tell you that by the end of the week, we will have paid business rate grants to all of those eligible. Just under £37 million has been issued to 3,000 businesses within our district. A very small number of our local businesses have decided for various reasons that they do not wish to access them. This money has to be sent straight back to central government. However, you can be assured that we have been in contact with every single business identified by the government as being eligible for this support and have issued grants to all of those who have accepted them. 

I'd like to thank our Revenues, Benefits, Customer Services and Economic Development teams who have been working incredibly hard to make sure that this work has been completed as quickly as possible. They started this process by contacting every eligible business, as well as heavily promoting the scheme. Since then, they have been carrying out follow up phone calls and emailing businesses to make sure that they have applied for the grants.

Supporting our local businesses is one of our key priorities and this is why we are proud to sponsor the fantastic 'open for business' campaign that the Observer series is running throughout May - offering free listings to those small businesses that are continuing to operate in our area. It's also important that we all support the Chichester and Midhurst and Petworth Observers and other local media organisations, who are playing a vital role in this crisis, helping to keep you well informed.

Although our focus is on the crisis, for many of our services, it is business as usual, and they are continuing to support you in the way they always have. What is really interesting is that I was listening to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary talk about how people have adapted to how they access services and how people are being really flexible. We have also seen this, with even more people accessing our services online at www.chichester.gov.uk  and checking for daily updates on our social media pages. We've also introduced a weekly email newsletter, which updates you on how we are supporting you through this crisis. I would encourage you to sign up to this by visiting www.chichester.gov.uk/newsalerts . We recognise that not everyone is online and so our friendly customer care team have also been doing a fantastic job, many of them answering your calls from their own homes! It's incredible how we have all adapted the way we work since this crisis began.

Finally, please do continue to follow the government's advice. This is the one way we can all continue to play our part in this crisis. Thank you once again to our own staff, our NHS colleagues, carers, shop workers, delivery drivers and public sector colleagues who are going above and beyond during these unprecedented times.

Please stay safe.

Best wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council