With coronavirus continuing to impact the country and the NHS under increasing pressure, LCCI members have been playing a key role in helping the capital and health service to respond to the crisis.
From providing bikes so NHS staff can commute safely, to provision of accommodation, food, and supplies, appeals for PPE for disability carers, through to providing their premises for NHS purposes – Chamber members have stepped up to help the coronavirus response.
Richard Burge, LCCI chief executive commented: “So many of London and the UK’s businesses are showing right now just how much people matter to them – whether their own employees, NHS staff, or those they are caring for. It’s wonderful to see so many businesses providing vital support to the NHS and assisting our national response. Business is so often a force for good, and that fact doesn’t always make the headlines in normal times.”
Entrepreneur and philanthropist
LCCI members playing a role include Here To Help London: a new initiative created and supported by entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Matharu to assist London in the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. Matharu, an LCCI board member and chair of its Asian Business Association, established the initiative to help key workers and wider community during the pandemic.
Co-sponsored by Handsfree Group, Blue Orchid Hotels, Integrity International Group and Global Hospitality Services, Here to Help London has already provided over 3,500 room nights and over 20,000 meals to a mix of NHS service providers, key workers, local authority referrals, specialist Covid-19 contractors, those in search of supported self-isolation, together with foreign nationals left stranded due to travel restrictions. The initiative has also helped distribute soap and hand lotion, free eggs, and even the preparation of free pancakes for Easter to be delivered to central London hospitals.
Also helping key workers to stay centrally is OYO Hotels & Homes – who have launched a new ‘virtual hotel’ named OYO Rooms for Carers where the public can book overnight stays (at the cost of £25 per room, per night), which are passed over to NHS Trusts for frontline healthcare workers to redeem at their nearest OYO hotel. As the coronavirus crisis began, OYO UK announced that it was keeping over 2,000 rooms open to accommodate key workers who are unable to work from home and are in need of places to stay close to their place of employment. The company introduced significantly reduced fixed rate pricing across its UK properties to remove unpredictability, allowing individuals and businesses to accurately budget for contingency accommodation.
Free bike loans
Also supporting key workers, Brompton Bike Hire, the sister company to Brompton Bicycle Ltd – the UK’s largest bicycle manufacturer – approached St Barts Hospital and NHS London to provide free bike loans for their frontline staff who wished to avoid being crammed onto buses and trains during the coronavirus crisis. To date, over 500 NHS staff have registered for the free rental of a Brompton Bike. Brompton then went further, by unveiling a new initiative which aims to get over 1,000 Brompton bikes hired free to NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Wheels for Heroes campaign has seen Brompton Bike Hire launch a Crowdfunder and commit production costs equating to an investment of up to £100,000 to fund bikes for NHS workers. With public and corporate support, the bikes will be produced at below cost price and loaned straight to healthcare workers via the Brompton Bike Hire network for as long as lockdown restrictions are in place.
Also providing direct support to the NHS, around 1,500 nursing and midwifery students, plus staff, from Middlesex University (MDX) are helping the NHS in the fight against coronavirus. MDX has also laser-cut 184 visors for staff at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, and hopes soon to produce up to 7,000 a week for London healthcare workers, to protect their faces and eyes as they tackle the crisis. Livability, a disability charity, is also on the frontline at this difficult time as their key workers ensure the disabled people they support in care homes and communities keep safe and well. The charity has launched an appeal asking for donations, including to help them to fund PPE to protect their staff, volunteers and those they are caring for.
Gatwick Airport are also donating to the coronavirus cause – having provided use of its long-stay car park as a drive-through testing centre. Initially for use by NHS staff and invited key workers, the site is available between 9-5 daily, on an appointment-only basis. Another airport playing a key role is London City Airport – who in early April welcomed an RAF chinook test flight to check procedures, should direct air access to the newly-opened NHS Nightingale be required. The airport, despite temporarily suspending commercial operations, remains ready to support the military and emergency services.
Steven Reilly-Hii, Senior Media Relations Manager, LCCI