Solihull’s town centre businesses have shown why they are so special during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
The pandemic has had a huge effect on the High Street and global economy as a whole but some companies have gone above and beyond to provide for their communities.
Solihull continues to prove that it remains a jewel in the crown of the West Midlands with a variety of different town centre businesses providing essential services and going the extra mile.
Yakinori, the Birmingham-born independent, family owned Japanese restaurant brand, opened in Touchwood in March just before the lockdown came into force.
Owner Ali Karakaya refused to let that overshadow their arrival and has been providing doctors, nurses, and other key workers from hospitals in the West Midlands with hot meals to say thank you for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Yakinori has now re-opened for takeaway orders alongside another independent Touchwood eatery – Jamaya.
The multi-award-winning Jamaican restaurant provided 200 meals to NHS staff at Solihull Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital as part of the 'Meals for the NHS' project to feed our NHS heroes.
The hospitality industry is not the only one to have been hit hard by the lockdown and other sectors have pulled together to support the Solihull community.
- BNP Paribas UK, which has its UK Personal Finance business located in the heart of Solihull, is providing £1million worth of support in the UK.
Stephen Hunt, CEO at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, said: "In such a short space of time, daily life has changed significantly for so many people.
“We hope this support package will offer relief and comfort to some of those people who are most in need across the West Midlands and the UK.”
One of the UK charities benefitting from this will be the Trussell Trust, which runs the largest network of foodbanks in the country and provides a valuable lifeline for struggling families. Its work includes supporting organisations such as Sparkhill Foodbank, who the Solihull team have worked closely with since 2013.
- National Grid Ventures joined forces with University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) Charity to launch a special appeal to raise £1million. National Grid Ventures kick-started the appeal with a £100,000 donation that was used to purchase almost 400 tablet computers for patients that allowed them to speak to their loved ones while in isolation. The tablets were distributed to wards across the Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands, Good Hope, Solihull and Nightingale Hospital.
- Age UK Solihull set up an emergency food bank and delivered 3,000 emergency food parcels to older and vulnerable people. Town centre businesses including Solihull Summerfest, Sembcorp Energy and Paragon Bank chipped in with donations which has enabled Age UK to keep their essential services running.
- Solihull School have helped to manufacture visors and other materials for the Nuffield Health Warwickshire Hospital and £5,600 was raised for Acorns Children's Hospice with an Old Silhillians virtual quiz. Members of staff, pupils and parents also took part in the recent Brummie Big Camp Out for Sifa Fireside and the #SIFASurvives campaign.
- Boots in Mell Square have set up a safe space for victims of domestic abuse. The scheme has been launched by the UK Says No More campaign in response to increased challenges faced by victims who are forced to isolate at home with perpetrators.
- ESG Security, based on Warwick Road in Solihull town centre, are offering free Empty Property Inspections - are all accredited to British Standards - and Mobile Patrols to fellow town centre companies.
Solihull BID – the Business Improvement District for the town centre – have been supporting companies throughout the pandemic with the latest information on financial support from the Government and how to claim for it.
The BID work in partnership with over 450 businesses from a range of sectors, all of which have pulled together during this testing time.
Melanie Palmer, Chief Executive of Solihull BID, said: “Solihull has a heart of gold and the support listed above goes to show that we are working hard together to get through the crisis.
“I am so proud to be part of a town centre that shows it really cares in such generous and innovative ways.”
Meanwhile, Solihull BID are also working alongside key partners including Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, West Midlands Police, Touchwood, Mell Square owners IM Properties and Solihull College & University Centre to produce a Town Centre Recovery Plan.
For more information on the Town Centre Recovery Plan – designed to shape how Solihull town centre will welcome people back once retail has re-opened for business – visit their website – www.solihullbid.co.uk