Cllr Annie Gallop is a councillor in Vassall ward.
Public Service Super Heroes. That’s what the GMB is calling them, and I totally agree. As we strip society down to the essentials, those that ensure the key services still function are revealed from the shadows. Our amazing NHS and those close to my Lambeth heart, our Local Government Workers.
These past weeks have shown us that, no matter what is placed in their path, those in service of the public will keep the show on the road; keep our vital services going; look after us when we are sick; keep us safe; keep the supermarket shelves stocked; keep collecting our rubbish; and keep delivering warm words and a hot meal to our vulnerable older residents. Respecting their value.
We are a Living Wage council and we have been fighting for an increase in the pay of these vital pillars of our society, without whom, as this crisis has shown, we would crumble. We now applaud and continue to join the lobbying and campaigning of our trade union colleagues, fighting for the correct protection equipment for social care workers and bus drivers alike, so that all our front line workers can carry out their essential duties safely. Respecting their value.
I have been truly impressed by the response of our council in Lambeth, how our staff have adapted, created and innovated to ensure our services are kept running and that we are able to look after our most vulnerable. A neighbour on the estate where I live contacted me, he is a self-isolating supermarket night-worker. He was running out of food and was worried he would need to go out but didn’t want to, because he had symptoms. I gave him the Lambeth helpline number and he swiftly received an emergency supplies delivery, including cat food for his beloved cat. Another friend of mine with no recourse to public funds and a transplant recipient, was so pleased with the quality of the nutritious fruit and veg in her Lambeth emergency supply. It has been so good to ease some of the stress and fears of residents who are at their most vulnerable. Respecting their value.
We have superheroes in our Councillor colleagues too, such as Pauline George, a nurse, working long and tiring shifts to care for the sick on the front line. And David Amos, a HR Director with the NHS, who has been working ridiculously long hours too, passionately determined to ensure he can fully staff the hospital and, that those staff themselves are fully supported by him. Respecting their value.
And the response from our communities, offering up their time and resources to volunteer has been extraordinary, but not surprising, it is a Lambeth strength. Now even more so neighbours are looking out for each other and acts of kindness have become the order of the day. Existing and newly formed Community and voluntary organisations have come together to create new projects in response to the need created by Coronavirus, such as the food growing project I am a part of in my Ward.
And London has now put together a new employment programme to provide more carers for the increasing needs in our communities, to work alongside the NHS to provide essential care for our elderly and vulnerable residents as they are discharged into the community. You can find out how to register and build a career in the caring profession at https://www.proudtocarelondon.org.uk/
When communities come together, our local council, our NHS, our businesses and our voluntary organisations, the borough is at its best. We can lead in really making a difference to strengthen our shared values. I am proud to be a part of such a caring community and to be a Lambeth councillor. As we move through this pandemic era we must continue to forge even stronger alliances and partnerships so that we can continue to deliver the best for the borough we call home.
Cllr Annie Gallop