Council united in thanks for those involved in pandemic response

Release Date: 20 May 2020

Councillors were united last night in their thanks and praise for all those staff, groups, organisations and residents who have played an important role in the borough’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the virtual meeting, all 54 councillors gave a rousing round of applause to those working in the NHS, social care, schools, local police and Council staff. Particular thanks was given to the many voluntary sector organisations in the borough, including RCVS and Age UK Richmond. Both have played an important role in coordinating the hundreds of local groups and organisations and an army of volunteers. Together they have provided support to hundreds of vulnerable or shielded families in Richmond.

At the meeting, Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

"It would be odd if we allowed this meeting to now close without acknowledging the extraordinary times in which we are living.

"It is with great sadness that we all mourn those who have died. As a Council we have not been immune to losing colleagues and we know there are many individuals and families across the borough that have lost friends and loved ones.

"But while we mourn those we have lost we must also give thanks to those who have stepped up to help during this crisis.

"We thank those NHS & Residential Care Staff who have risked their own lives to care for others. We thank our own Council staff and contractors, including our bin crews and road sweepers, our social workers, those redeployed to the Community Hub, our Contact Centre, those in Adult Social Care, our parks team and road maintenance crews.

"And we thank also those Council officers, who have enabled the council to keep functioning.

"We thank our Voluntary Sector and local charities – whether the army of volunteers or the organisations through whom they’ve volunteered.

"We thank our teachers – a target of so much unwelcome and unfair hostility in the press at the moment who have managed to teach those learning at home while also providing on site education for children of key workers and many of our vulnerable children.

"We thank our police who have done so much to enforce the social distancing while at the same time ensuring we are all kept safe from crime. And we thank our councillors who are providing a vital link between the council and their communities.

"Finally, we thank our residents. Their patience and generosity of spirit has been an inspiration. We have always prided ourselves on our community spirit and civic nature in this borough. This emergency has brought out the best in us."

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of the Conservative Opposition Group, said:

"I would like to extend my condolences and thoughts to all those who have been impacted by this terrible virus.

"Our Council officers have done an incredible job with dealing with this ‘once in a lifetime’ emergency. Everything they, our NHS staff, our voluntary sector groups, volunteers and schools have achieved is a real testament to their commitment to help our community.

"People have rolled up their sleeves and got involved. It really shows the best in our community.

"I would also like to recognise those who have lost their jobs. They have made a sacrifice in order to protect the health of local residents.

"And to those frontline staff – those in our shops, those keeping public transport going. We owe them a tremendous thanks.”

Cllr Richard Bennett, Leader of the Green Party Group, added:

"These are unprecedented times. I can empathise with the many people who for the last few weeks have had a financial or personal struggle. Our borough, our officers and volunteers immediately rose to the challenge of the lock down, we maybe more fortunate than other London boroughs.

"But essential needs and demands were anticipated and responded to. We can be proud of our officers and also the many of our residents who have helped. It has felt like a family in operation. And I am very proud and grateful in recognising what has been achieved."

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159.

Reference: P176/20

Updated: 29 May 2020