How Burgess Hill Town Council has helped the town during the last year

Burgess Hill Town Council has marked the anniversary of the country's first lockdown by reflecting on the work it has done during the last year.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 1:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 1:30 pm
Volunteers in June 2020 with food supplies
Volunteers in June 2020 with food supplies

Along with other Mid Sussex councils, Burgess Hill Town Council has shown its resilience and inventiveness throughout the last year and has risen to the demands placed on its services with professionalism.

Steve Cridland, CEO of Burgess Hill Town Council, said: "As soon as lockdown started officers rolled out homeworking including the rerouting of IT and phone systems to home locations,

meaning that the Council’s Help Point service continued despite the council offices being closed.

Volunteers in December 2020 for the Christmas hamper project

"They ensured that all scheduled meetings continued by switching online to Zoom with 39 council and committee meetings held from the start of lockdown.

"An emergency co-ordinating group was established with people from the public sector, voluntary and charitable groups to provide support to vulnerable households in the town."

The Help Point, working with the Burgess Hill Food Bank, ensured people had access to food bank vouchers and received food deliveries when required, making over 300 referrals since the first lockdown.

The council also set up a Covid-19 relief fund of £10,000, match funded by Burgess Hill District Lions, using this fund to provide cash help to community groups across the town.

Steve said: "Officers found new premises for the Burgess Hill Foodbank, following closure of their existing premises, and seconded members of the Maintenance Team to help with the fit-out.

"They also obtained four freezers from Unilever, two being given to the local YMCA and two to the Burgess Hill Foodbank to help them increase the variety of food given to vulnerable households."

For key workers at the hospital, the council co-funded and installed benches, and for vulnerable residents officers helped to collect and deliver prescriptions and other free food.

They also delivered a summer hamper food project to 70 families, totalling 179 adults and teenagers and 115 children from across the town, and a Christmas food hamper scheme, working with other organisations, delivering 280 hampers to benefit 756 people in the town.

Steve said: "Recognised the longer-term economic impact of the pandemic, launching a programme to tackle long-term food insecurity, forming the Burgess Hill Community Cupboard CIO to provide food to low-income families on a long-term basis.

"We found premises in the local shopping centre as the new charity’s base and fitted it out, using local builders and council maintenance staff. It has recruited independent trustees and volunteers to staff the shop.

"Funding has come from the council’s budget, a housing association, and grants from other charities."

The council has done many other projects across the last year, including implementing ‘Bridge-the-Gap’ and ‘Trading Spaces’ projects as an investment response to the pandemic, launching a re-wilding project on selected verges around the town, and commissioning a commemorative Covid-19 community bench as a permanent reminder of this time to be installed on the weekend of the national NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers Day on Monday, July 5.

Steve said: "In a time of crisis and need, Burgess Hill Town Council has demonstrated that it could not only rise to the challenges of the time but continue with a policy programme full of vision and hope."