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#LondonTogether: London Living Wage Employers are finding new ways to help in response to Covid-19

As the UK enters its sixth week in lockdown, individuals, communities and organisations across the capital have united to support the most vulnerable people and keyworkers during this critical period, with many Living Wage Employers jumping in to help wherever they can. It has been heart-warming to witness an array of fantastic responses from our employers who have adapted to the crisis. This includes requisitioning production lines to make protective equipment, offering free services to frontline health workers or forming partnerships with charities to help vulnerable communities or the National Health Service.

To highlight the community spirit uniting people across the capital, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan launched the #LondonTogether campaign, which aims to promote and celebrate positive community action undertaken by various groups across London. So we thought we’d share some of the inspiring actions that London Living Wage Employers are taking, in the hope that their generosity, kindness and unity will inspire us all. Ultimately showing that despite us being further apart from social distancing, there is greater social solidarity, as Londoners work better together.  

Here’s how London Living Wage Employers are helping:

Stepping in to support our NHS workers

Many of us want to support and thank the NHS right now, whether that’s by taking part in the Thursday evening #ClapforNHS or donating to charities that fund the NHS. Living Wage Employers across the capital are stepping in to help this essential service keep running by supporting the staff who are working long hours to save lives, often without the right PPE equipment to hand.  

Luxury retailer Burberry have converted their York trench coat factory to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients. The London-based fashion house has delivered more than 100,000 surgical masks to the NHS. On Instagram, Burberry announced they are also funding research for a vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford.

Living Wage Employer Wagestream, an income streaming platform that allows employees to track, budget, save and stream their earnings in 'real time' announced they are offering their services free-of-charge to NHS staff. Some of the services on offer include automatic statutory sick pay which employees can access through the Wagestream app for free, potential credit to employers to fund furloughing staff before government money comes through and immediate pay of overtime shifts or specific "covid" shifts.

Many Living Wage food and drink retailers have also pulled together to support the NHS. Rosslyn Coffee is donating a bag of coffee to the NHS with every purchase, whilst mobile food service, Freewheelin’ Pizza have donated food to various charities.

Doing the right thing by their people, and their local communities 

Living Wage Employer Chelsea FC have partnered with women’s and children’s charity, Refuge to support women and children who are suffering from abuse following the nationwide lockdown, encouraging supporters to donate money that the club will match during this period. Similarly, Aviva have committed an extra £10 million to the British Red Cross via the Aviva Foundation, ‘to ensure those made most vulnerable by the coronavirus outbreak can get the right support at the right time’.

Local authorities have demonstrated the impact of community organising by coordinating active community groups under a single umbrella. Waltham Forest council have been proactive in their response to the crisis by working with existing mutual aid community groups. The Community Help Network was launched to provide elderly residents with vital services from local charity organisations including food delivery, prescription collections, emergency home repairs and social contact. 

Likewise, Kingston residents have been proactive by registering with volunteering platforms such as ‘Kingston Stronger Together’ on Facebook. The Royal Borough of Kingston have launched an online service for residents who are self-isolating and the council will also be directly phoning the most vulnerable. Islington Council announced via Twitter that their sign language interpreter service is available online to ensure 'deaf residents are not isolated & can continue to access health & council services.' 

These responses to the virus are inspirational and provide a glimmer of hope during these challenging times. The Living Wage movement is strong because it is built on a platform of shared values such as compassion and co-operation. It’s these qualities that drive employers to become Living Wage accredited in the first place, and it will be these same qualities that ensure businesses, workers and their families emerge from Covid-19 stronger and united.

If you are a Living Wage Employer doing something positive amid these challenging times, do let us know so we can share it online, or feel free to tag us on social media: @LivingWageUK.

22nd April 2020, 14:41
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