Priority is to protect vulnerable

17 January 2020.....  Leader of Leeds \city Council, Cllr Judith Blake at the Tour de Yorkshire race route reveal at Leeds Civic Hall. Picture Tony Johnson
17 January 2020..... Leader of Leeds \city Council, Cllr Judith Blake at the Tour de Yorkshire race route reveal at Leeds Civic Hall. Picture Tony Johnson

The leader of Leeds City Council has insisted the city will “rise to the challenge” of coronavirus, as thousands of people volunteer to help during the pandemic.

Coun Judith Blake (Lab) said some businesses have already been “devastated” by the virus, and that Leeds City Council was looking into ways to help freelancers and those in creative sectors in the city.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £330bn worth of state-backed loans to help businesses suffering from the effects of the virus.

Coun Blake said: “We have a lot of questions in the local government sector. In regards to businesses, we are seeking clarification on capacity concerns.

“We need to make sure that measures are deliverable – our priority is to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable.

“There are certain sectors are experiencing devastating impacts. We are looking at how we can get as much support as possible to people.”

She announced a package of help was being devised for freelancers and those in the creative sector in the city, adding: “We are looking at how we can work to support them and we are putting out more detail next week.”

It follows news that more than 4,000 people in Leeds have signed up to help the vulnerable as part of the city’s new community care programme, following the coronavirus outbreak.

Coun Blake added: “Thank you to the enormous levels of support and the offers of help are really well received. As a council, we are ready and willing to help and Leeds will rise to the challenge.”

Leeds City Council has joined forces with Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) and a network of local charities to deliver care to anyone in need across the city.

The council and VAL have enlisted a network of charities across all 33 wards to match volunteers with those having contacted the council on the helpline number to ask for assistance.

Launched last week the Community Care Programme ensures those in need get the help they require while keeping everyone safe in the process.

Support can include tasks such as shopping deliveries, preparing meals, dog walking, making check-in phone calls or as an informal volunteer within their own neighbourhood in more general ways.

Leeds City Council deputy leader, Coun Debra Coupar, said: “We have been moved by the city’s huge response to offer support to those in need. It is amazing to see everyone pull together during this unprecedented situation. “Leeds has a strong community spirit and we are all proud to be part of this effort and of all those taking part.

“We are calling on anyone who thinks they could help even in a small way to get in touch with Voluntary Action Leeds. Whether it be dropping off food, nipping to the shops or just speaking on the telephone – we really need your help.”

Richard Jackson, chief executive at Voluntary Action Leeds, said: “It is critical that we have the right systems in place.”

“We are extremely thankful to the thousands of people who have already come forward to offer their help: it’s inspiring to see our city come together during this challenging time.

“We want to reassure volunteers that we’re now working hard to ensure we get people helping on the ground, coordinated with our network of local charities, as soon as possible.”

Anyone in need of help is asked to call Leeds City Council on call 0113 3781877.

To sign up as a Community Care Volunteer please visit www.doinggoodleeds.org.uk or contact Voluntary Action Leeds on info@val.org.uk or call 0113 2977920.