The pace of the developing Covid-19 situation is raising a large number of issues for all of us in managing services across leisure and culture. In this initial phase we are all looking for quick answers to complex questions and trying to extend our thinking capacity while we continue to tackle the urgent issues that we can see.
Local authorities will be making decisions based on local factors. Public health is our priority, including the health and safety of staff and customers. Our assets – including leisure centres, libraries, museums, galleries and parks are used for a wide range of purposes including access to IT and information, physical exercise, community advice and benefits. Many play an important role in protecting the public at this time. Individual Councils will weigh the risks and benefits on a case by case basis. The government advice is to the public is to avoid mass gatherings and to be socially distant and this hasn’t changed. Everyone should heed this advice.
In a difficult situation we can all help each other by sharing the solutions and approaches we are taking, and by raising the questions that are on our minds so that, where possible, we can support one another to identify possible actions, good practice, sources of information etc.
CLOA is in contact with national bodies for our sectors and also other relevant membership organisations. We are feeding in the intelligence we have about the kinds of pressures and challenges everyone in our sector is facing, including in relation to immediate and longer term business sustainability challenges (internal and amongst our delivery partners), business continuity measures and public health issues. We are seeking to influence solutions to the fragility of our sectors at this time. We will of course update you where we can. Meanwhile the LinkedIn forum is a good source of information and support from colleagues and it relies on us all to post the information we have and the actions we are taking, so please do use it – it is there for you all!
Our services can of course play important parts in reaching and supporting communities, providing access to information, helping to address social isolation from sustained confinement and helping people, as far as possible, to stay healthy and well during this period. There are some great examples of how culture and leisure providers can provide new virtual products to support people in engagement with culture and sport during self-isolation. Please share what you can on the LinkedIn forum and if you have any ideas for how you can better be supported by CLOA during this period or questions for us, post those too.
Wishing everyone stays as safe and healthy as possible during this time, especially those most at risk.
Val Birchall, Chair of CLOA