Recovery: supporting West Berkshire bounce back from the pandemic
Mental health support, millions of pounds of funding to businesses and support for children and young people included in recovery programme.
A programme of activity to help the district recover from the pandemic has delivered mental health support, distributed millions of pounds of funding to businesses and supported children and young people across West Berkshire.
A Recovery Strategy closure report is due to be considered by the Executive on Thursday 7 July. The meeting, which starts at 5pm, will be broadcast live on the West Berkshire Council YouTube channel. The agenda and reports for the meeting can be read here - and will be published in the week before the meeting.
Work to support the district's recovery began early on in the pandemic as it became clear the significant impact it would have on the district, its communities and economy. A recovery strategy was published and approved in June 2020 which put health, education and economy central to the district's recovery. This has delivered support for local communities across the district in a number of ways, including;
- 4,700 residents have benefitted so far from a Surviving to Thriving Fund to improve mental health and wellbeing. The £300,000 fund was created jointly with Greenham Trust and has supported 26 different projects receiving £228,000 - and funding still available
- £35,000 has been awarded from the Let's Get Active Fund (jointly with Greenham Trust) towards groups helping residents to stay physically active
- More than 500 children have taken part in a successful holiday scheme to provide food and activities during school holidays
- 450 businesses have benefitted from £6.5m in Additional Restrictions Grants (ARG) - helping them cope with the impact of pandemic restrictions. This includes 44 receiving a share of a £700,000 ARG Challenge Fund - ARF funding aimed at supporting environmental and digital recovery
- 30 residents have attended a course to provide support for people wanting to start their own business. This was delivered by Rebel Business School thanks to a £5,000 investment
- 29 young people were assisted in getting Kickstart placements - 16 with West Berkshire Council and 13 through other businesses supported by our Economy team. Advice was given to an additional 50-60 West Berkshire businesses to help them apply to Kickstart directly
- Education has been supported by £160,000 funding which has supported an accelerated reading programme, a mathematics programme and additional staff.
- Improved communications with local residents - including the introduction of e-newsletters to more than 73,000 subscribers. This has helped residents to keep in touch with their local council, and the support and activities in response to, and recovery from the pandemic. You can sign up to these at www.westberks.gov.uk/signup.
Work to address longer-term impacts of the pandemic will be reflected in the Council Strategy 2023-27 which is currently being developed, and through the ongoing delivery of services.
Speaking about the end of the recovery programme Councillor Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said:
"The pandemic had a significant impact on our residents and businesses; and its effect continues to be felt today. I am proud of the Council's response - working hard and acting quickly to support communities through a very difficult couple of years. We've worked to support mental health, our local economy and our schools to name just a few of our priorities. What's more, we've done this while increasing our engagement with residents and making it easy for residents to see local democracy in action.
"We are not complacent and we know the effects of the pandemic will continue to influence how we lead our lives for some time to come - for better, and for worse. We will continue to build on the positive changes to how we live our lives but also address the longer-lasting effects such as those we've see on our physical and mental health. These will be a cornerstone of our next Council Strategy which will launch next year and address our priorities through to 2027."
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