Hackney shows its strength
It’s been five weeks since I wrote in the last edition of Hackney Today, and the lives of everyone in our borough have been turned upside down since then.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on our borough. It’s stopped us seeing those we love, visiting our favourite places and carrying out our normal work. Most sadly, it has claimed the lives of dozens of our residents. Who we both mourn and recognise.
Whether they are known to us or not, every life lost will have an untold impact on a family, a neighbourhood and our borough. If you have been directly affected, or are ill yourself, April's edition of Hackney Life includes information about the support that is on offer to you, which is also available on our coronavirus pages. We are here for you.
I want to pay tribute to our NHS heroes and the key workers putting themselves at risk to help others. I have never been prouder to be their Mayor, or join you in clapping them every Thursday evening. We’ve turned the back page of the publication into this poster to celebrate them, which you can put up in your window to show your support.
And to everyone who has volunteered, helped their neighbours or simply stayed at home – thank you. The Hackney spirit shown by all of you is what makes it so fantastic to live and work here. Together, we will get through this.
From the outset of this crisis, Hackney Council’s mission has been to work cooperatively with our communities and harness that spirit. Our staff have quickly set up new and additional services – delivering hundreds of emergency food parcels to those shielding or self-isolating, caring for vulnerable adults, keeping our parks open, collecting waste and supporting rough sleepers.
We’ve also put a huge financial support package in place for residents and businesses most in need, and you can find lots of information about you can apply for help on our support page. While Council buildings are generally closed, we’re still here to provide essential services for people who need us.
Last week, my Cabinet met virtually in public for the first time to discuss the Council’s response and agree over £12million additional investment earmarked for the Council’s frontline this year.
This funding into adult social care, children’s social care, education and homelessness work will go directly into making sure we can keep our residents safe. That’s on top of the emergency support for the most financially hardest hit households, and a £100,000 fund for migrants and refugees.
We have done all this because it was the right thing to do, but also because ministers promised they would cover the cost of our necessary response. Unfortunately we now have a £19m Government funding gap in the next three months alone, and we’ll continue to hold ministers to their promise of full support.
We’ve also called on the Government to do the right thing by Hackney’s private renters and ban evictions, when the coronavirus crisis could have led to a sudden homelessness crisis.
We’ve argued for lobbied for a lift in Local Housing Allowance and the removal of restrictions on Discretionary Housing Payments, and for greater government intervention to protect the voluntary and charitable sector supporting our communities.
We worked with local businesses who are slipping through the net of government support ─ collating and submitting case studies to MPs, as well as those who have been badly ripped off and let down by their insurance companies.
We’ll continue to stand up for our communities and get them the help they need.
Thank you for everything you are doing and you can continue to play your part by following guidance about social distancing – particularly in our parks and green spaces – and staying at home to protect the vulnerable, support our frontline staff and our colleagues in the NHS, and help save lives.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
This column originally appeared in the 27 April edition of Hackney Life.