One of the people who inspired me to become an entrepreneur, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was once quoted as saying there is no such thing as society.
After this past crazy week, I don’t think that quote holds any weight. That said, the second part of her quote from an interview with Woman’s Own in 1987 does very much ring true.
She said: “It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.
Small gestures can be impactful
While she would never have imagined in her wildest dreams, or nightmares, in fact, that would be achieved by keeping away from our neighbours, what has happened in recent days is our country has really come together as a society.
From the small gestures I have seen, like paperboys and girls leaving notes for self-isolated elderly people with their morning deliveries, to the efforts by the Government to try and keep the economy afloat and the public safe, it is really proving to be a collective effort.
The same can be said for businesses, which like everything and everyone, are affected by the coronavirus crisis.
It has been heartening to see that while many have seen their income dramatically reduced and have had to make some very tough decisions, they still have looked out to their communities and society to see what part they can play.
Big business can do its bit
We ve seen pubs that were forced to close transformed into community shops so locals can grab essentials to hospitality firms donating produce to food banks.
In London, the capital’s largest surplus food supplier, FareShare and City Harvest have teamed up with a charity to set up a new initiative, The London Food Alliance. The collective is distributing food from suppliers to community hubs throughout London to ensure the poor, elderly and vulnerable are provided for during the crisis.
Helping the NHS
It is really moving to see businesses of all sizes helping where they can.
In the fight against COVID-19, it is, of course, those at the front line that need as much support as we can give them. Our heroes in the NHS are working around the clock to care for coronavirus suffers as well as prepare for the situation, God forbid, getting much worse.
It is essential that they can focus 100% on their jobs without the distractions and worries of normal life. And this is where businesses can help and, in fact, many are.
Among them is Brompton Bike Hire, which is offering 30-day free bike hire to all NHS staff while NCP Car Parks is offering NHS parking at 150 locations across the UK.
What we’re doing
Another parking service, an app called JustPark has launched a nationwide appeal to find free parking spaces near hospitals to avoid crucial NHS staff having to use public transport. As of last week, 700 spaces were listed at more than 150 hospitals and health centres.
At Pimlico, we are paying our part by offering free emergency work to NHS staff in London. The thought of coming home to find your house without heat or light or with a leaking pipe or blocked toilet is normally tough enough, but after a long shift at a hospital, it is not something that we want NHS workers to have to contemplate.
We ve also prioritised emergency call outs for the elderly and vulnerable in London.
Hotel and hospitality venue operators are also getting involved, among the most high profile being former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs who are allowing healthcare staff free rooms at their two Manchester Hotels, while boxer Amir Khan has offered his wedding hall and retail units in Bolton to the NHS to treat Coronavirus victims.
There is no doubt in my mind that it is times like this that people’s humanity and sense of community shines through. While it is going to be incredibly tough for many people and businesses in the coming weeks and months, we must hold on to the positive that together we can overcome this crisis.