As the government has this week made some small changes to the lockdown restrictions, and shared very early plans for a roadmap to recovery, I want to update you on our own preparations locally.
Firstly, I must stress that our absolute priority remains to keep our community safe.
And with outside exercise permitted more frequently, those in certain industries returning to work, some businesses preparing to reopen and schools possibly admitting more pupils, this now becomes more important than ever.
We all want to revive our economy and see Croydon open for business as soon as possible, but we must not forget this health crisis is far from over. We are still in lockdown, with only some very slight changes to the rules.
As more people leave their homes for work or other essential reasons, it is imperative that we maintain social distancing rules, wash our hands frequently and avoid crowded places, like public transport, wherever possible.
And I would urge you to please consider, every time you leave your home, whether your trip is really necessary.
As your council, we are working with our partners right across the community – in transport, in business, in health, in the voluntary sector – to do what we can together to help everyone follow the social distancing rules.
We are making it easier for people to navigate our streets and public spaces while keeping their social distance, through initiatives such as our Streetspaces, which I know many of you have welcomed, and encouraging walking and cycling to reduce crowding on public transport.
We have been supporting our businesses to help them survive, and we will be helping them to think about operating in new ways so that they can keep going but most importantly, keep their staff and their customers safe.
I also know that many parents, teachers, and young people themselves will be thinking about the government announcement that some year groups might return to school next month – what that might look like and above all, will it be safe to do so?
I want to reassure you that are working very, very closely with schools right across the borough as they develop proposals for how this might be managed. But our and their absolute priority is the safety and wellbeing of all children and staff, and any decisions locally will be made on this basis alone.
This work is a huge focus for us now and in the coming weeks, even as we continue with our welfare response to the pandemic. Working with our voluntary sector we continue to support those in need, with food parcels, welfare and prioritising their health and wellbeing.
Our #CroydonTogether campaign continues to highlight our borough’s united response in all sorts of fantastic ways – from our wonderful key workers, to our volunteers, to residents simply doing their bit for neighbours and friends.
So once again, I must say thank you to all of you – we are stronger together, and we will come through this. So please keep going, and continue to share your stories on social media with the #CroydonTogether hashtag – they are an inspiration to us all.
Household reuse and recycling centres and parks
While we doing all we can to develop new systems that will make it easier for people to stay safe, we do need your help – everyone still has a part to play.
In line with other boroughs, this week we reopened our household reuse and recycling centres for limited items and with new social distancing rules in place – thank you to all those who followed the guidance.
But before you plan your trip, please consider whether you really need to make it or items could be stored at home for now. Don’t forget our free bulky waste collection service is operating too – you can find out more on our webpage.
And with people exercising more frequently, please do continue to follow the social distancing rules in our parks and open spaces. Outside time is so important for our health and wellbeing, particularly for those without gardens, but it cannot be at the expense of lives, or at the risk of a devastating second peak of this virus.
Mental Health Awareness Week.
Finally, next week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s event has particular significance in such challenging times. The theme is kindness, and so many of you are being kind to each other as we have seen through #CroydonTogether. So please keep sharing your stories of kindness, especially this week – they just might brighten someone else’s day – I know they do mine.
And above all, please don’t forget to be kind to yourselves. There is plenty of advice about the ways you can do this – from connecting with others, to taking care of your own wellbeing, through exercise, learning and more. Visit our webpage for more ideas.
Until next week,
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council