But during this crisis we’ve seen how important that fellowship is in supporting our most vulnerable. Whether practical, emotional or financial support, it wouldn’t have been possible without our communities pulling together.
The pandemic has also seen this network play an active, visible role in delivering this support that has reached far wider than the charities, volunteers, public bodies and small businesses which ordinarily do so much for their localities.
Society as a whole has pulled together – and that has highlighted that big organisations can play an important role in the communities in which they are rooted.
Whether that’s distilleries producing hand sanitiser, restaurant and hotel chains providing food and shelter to the homeless, or fashion brands making PPE, the scale of support offered and the speed at which it has been provided has been remarkable.
Across the UK, the financial services industry is helping to support the UK economy through the fiscal impact of this crisis and we recognise that we must both support businesses which are currently doing everything they can to protect jobs, whilst also helping those struggling with their personal finances.
Barclays is an active participant in Government-backed initiatives like the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), and we have delivered over £11.bn of finance to those facing challenges with cash-flow and beyond.
Flamingo Land is just one of the hundreds of major employers we have helped through these schemes. Currently closed due to Covid-19, it is one of the UK’s most visited zoos, theme park and holiday resorts and a major employer in North Yorkshire, employing over 700 local people during peak season. I’m delighted that my colleagues were able to help them with funding, safeguarding jobs and ensuring that the animals in their care remain well looked after.
During this period, we of course also recognise that many people are experiencing financial difficulty, from making repayments on their mortgage to concerns about access to cash. Barclays has provided over 640,000 payment holidays globally for mortgages, credit cards and loans, and waived £100m of interest and fees in the UK.
We’ve kept branches open and also retrained our branch staff to take inbound calls, provided access to cash to those self-isolating, and set up dedicated phone lines for NHS workers and the elderly.
Although the effect of these national schemes and initiatives is felt by many, charities and volunteers are addressing the impact of Covid-19 from the ground up. In recognition of this work, large organisations are pledging help.
Through Barclays’ £100m Community Aid Package, we are partnering with hundreds of charities across the UK which have seen demand for their services dramatically increase as a result of the pandemic – offering donations, colleague volunteers, practical support and gifted advertising space to maximise their outreach and ensure that their services can continue.
We would like to thank all of the charities which are playing a crucial role, and we have been proud to help them as they reach all those in need in our communities. For example, the domestic and sexual abuse support charity Staying Put in Bradford offering support to all survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
In Huddersfield the charity Brake’s “Sudden” project has provided bereavement support to those who have lost someone unexpectedly, and in Sheffield the Good Things Foundation has prevented loneliness by gifting technology to those that don’t have access to the internet.
As part of our support for the region we are proud to be working with The Yorkshire Post on its Informing the Vulnerable campaign, which aims to deliver newspapers to those who may not have a TV licence or an internet connection.
Together we hope to get The Yorkshire Post into the hands of as many hospital patients, hospice service users and care home residents as possible.
This crisis has shown that community spirit is full of energy, and that resilient businesses which are rooted in the UK play an important role.
I’m proud of my colleagues across Yorkshire who have been working flat out to support our customers and clients, and I’m proud of our local communities which have pulled together to help each other.
Let’s use our Yorkshire grit to keep pushing forward and, together, we will get through this difficult time.
Caroline Pullich is the Barclays Head of SME Yorkshire.
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