‘Ready and able’ – Foundation outlines plan to support Letchworth through coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 11:35 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 19 March 2020

Graham Fisher, chief executive of the Heritage Foundation, has announced support for tenants and residents. Picture: Brian Petty

Graham Fisher, chief executive of the Heritage Foundation, has announced support for tenants and residents. Picture: Brian Petty

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The Heritage Foundation is developing an urgent action plan to support the Letchworth community as the impact of coronavirus continues to be felt.

Working with teams and organisations across its venues and services, the Foundation is creating measures that will include financial assistance for its commercial tenants and support for vulnerable residents.

CEO 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.”

“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 plan to announce a tenant support package in the coming days.

“We are also 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.”

The Foundation’s outlined action plan includes:

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– Setting up a dedicated response team to deal with the large volume of enquiries 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 lean on.

– 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.

Further details will be publicised in the next 24 to 48 hours, including how the Foundation plan to reallocate staff to help those most in need.

Graham added: “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 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 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 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.”


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