The Heritage Foundation is developing an urgent plan of action to support the Letchworth community as the impact of coronavirus is being felt.
Working with teams across its venues and services, as well as local organisations, the Foundation is creating a plan that will include financial assistance for its commercial tenants and support for vulnerable residents.
Chief Executive Graham Fisher said: “These are unprecedented times and there is no way of assessing the impact coronavirus will have on our town, businesses and residents, or how long it will go on for. We sit at the very heart of the community and have an important role to play in helping people manage this crisis. We are working closely with other partners to pull together an action plan to ensure that the most vulnerable people in Letchworth have access to information and practical help such as food shopping.
“We will publicise further details in the next 24-48 hours, including how we will reallocate some of our staff to help those most in need. We are also maintaining all our grant funding to local frontline organisations and urge those who are in financial difficulty to get in touch with us.
“We are feeling the impact ourselves - we took the tough decision on Monday evening to close Broadway Cinema & Theatre, Standalone Farm and Broadway Gallery as well as our range of heritage services. This has a knock-on effect on our own income and the people who work there.
“Right now, we are assessing our finances and resources to give us the capacity to help those who need it the most – this will include our residential and commercial tenants. We also plan to announce a tenant support package in the coming days.”
The Foundation’s outline action plan also includes:
- Setting up a dedicated response team to deal with the large volume of enquiries coming in from worried residential and commercial tenants.
- Repurposing its health, wellbeing and transport services to help isolated Letchworth residents who have no family or friends to look after them.
- Freeing up the team at Ernest Gardiner Treatment Centre to work with the local NHS to deal with urgent care cases and emerging care needs.
Graham continued: “With an estimated 10,000 people in Letchworth aged over 65, we will be working with local organisations to identify the most vulnerable within this group. We will use our response team to create an infrastructure that will bring key services together covering health and wellbeing, food distribution, and financial assistance.
“If you know people who might be isolated, please also get in touch with us via our dedicated phone line, which will be announced in the next 24 hours. We want to reassure people that we are here to help, especially our commercial and residential tenants.”