Monday 6 April 2020 3:00 pm

Coronavirus: The City is doing its part

William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.

Two weeks of staying at home has taken its toll on all of us whether we know it or not. Yes, we may have all got used to living life through the lens of technology, but video conferencing can only partly make up for the activities and day-to-day interactions we all crave and take for granted.

Understandably people are worrying about their own health and that of their loved ones and friends. Many will also be anxious about the dramatic changes that have touched all areas of life over the past week, as well as what’s still to come. Others I’m sure will be worrying about work, a huge part of our identity and a sense of purpose for many of us.

In these challenging times it is more important than ever that we all look after ourselves, physically and mentally. For those of us that can, a daily walk or other forms of exercise, with social distancing in mind, brings countless benefits. But companies and organisations also have a huge part to play, and need to step up and support their employees during the crisis.

Charities like Samaritans, Place2Be and Onside Youth Zone, all supported by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, continue to provide crucial help where they can. However, in the face of significant increase in demand, these resources have become stretched and limited.

Many larger firms will have their own support services in place, and of course these should always be used in the first instance. But what about SMEs, key workers and those that are self-employed?

At the City of London Corporation we are trying to support all businesses in the Square Mile and beyond as best as we can.  I urge all City business leaders to take a look at our Business Healthy website, which contains multiple tools and advice from our public health team on how to improve the wellbeing of your workforce.

We’re also trying to help vital community and voluntary organisations at this time through our charitable arm the City Bridge Trust, which is giving grants of up to £15,000 to all of the small charities it currently supports, meaning an estimated £1,250,000 will be provided in financial support.

None of this work is new, but it is now more important than ever. The Lord Mayor’s Appeal I head has long been an advocate of the importance of good mental health through our This is Me campaign, which aims to change attitudes towards mental health in the workplace by reducing the stigma, dispelling the myths and raising awareness to improve employee wellbeing.

After all, let’s not forget that businesses that look after their workforce as best they can during these difficult times will be in a better position once this crisis is over.  We are all facing the same challenges and will come through them by working together.

That also means providing support for others, but especially NHS and key workers. Like many of you, City Corporation staff and members are taking part in the weekly #ClapForCarers, and we also lit many of our bridges blue to show our support. We’re also helping essential staff get from A to B, providing free parking in many City Corporation managed locations.

So as the coming weeks go by, spare a thought for everyone working on the front line. But don’t forget about the health of your staff, colleagues and yourself.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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