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Mercator Group LLP joined businesses from across the UK in an initiative to help Britain and its most vulnerable citizens to pull through the coronavirus crisis.

Former Cabinet Minister, Rt Hon Justine Greening, has launched the C-19 Business Pledge with entrepreneur David Harrison. The national scheme encourages employers to join the coronavirus effort by pledging to help their employees, customers and communities across Britain get through the crisis. It is targeting not just the immediate challenges of coronavirus, but also the challenges of recovery. It comes after Justine received a huge response from businesses and universities getting in touch with her and willing to be part of a national effort.

The initiative has already received the backing of employers representing over 2 million staff and students. As well as Wrexham Glyndwr University, they include BP, Everton Football Club, National Grid, DLA Piper, Severn Trent Water, national investment firm True Potential, global publishing firm Emerald Group and software provider Advanced. Also on board are tech giant Konica Minolta, Yorkshire-based Sewell Group and law firm Shoosmiths. Universities have also risen to the challenge, meanwhile, with Bolton Group, Bradford, Bishop Grosseteste, Brunel, Northampton, York St John, Staffordshire and Leeds Beckett Universities all putting pledges forward.

Employers who sign up to the pledge give their backing to three main objectives built around employees, customers and communities. They will not only help Britain through the immediate challenges of coronavirus, but also through its recovery.

  • Firstly, to support their own employees throughout and beyond this challenging time. For example, this could include practical support and advice on financial security, mental health, personal wellbeing as well as reintegration back into work for those who have experienced an extended period away from the workplace.
  • Secondly, to publish clear and simple advice for customers. Where possible they could have specialist teams dedicated to supporting customers if they are having problems, such as those facing repayment difficulties and vulnerable customers, as RBS has done.
  • Thirdly, doing what they can to help communities in Britain through the epidemic. Over the coming months we are likely to see a sharp increase in isolation, loneliness, mental health and household financial issues in our communities across the country. There will be an increased need for communities to come together with practical support, such as food deliveries, collections and financial assistance for organisations that specialise in supporting vulnerable people.

Justine Greening said:

“With the future of many employers hanging in the balance and incredibly tough times unfolding in sectors across the UK, businesses face many incredibly difficult decisions.

“But those organisations who are able to, can have a huge role in battling the impact of coronavirus and make a real difference in these uniquely challenging times.

“In spite of everything, lots of employers have already shown amazing initiative and commitment to helping people affected by coronavirus. The C-19 Business Pledge is all about encouraging as many businesses and universities as possible to get involved and then helping them do that faster and better by sharing all the great work that’s already been done. The early response has been incredible and I’ll do everything I can to help to connect up British business to play its role.”

In line with the promises of the pledge, Mercator is actively supporting its employees through this difficult time. Mercator has adopted a 100% homeworking policy thereby minimising movement of personnel in the area. Scheduled twice-weekly online stand-ups allow employees to converse in the usual way, not just about work matters but about other areas too. Additional online meetings between individuals allow employees to support each other in the same way that they usually would when in the office.

Currently all employees are still working on full salaries but if anyone needs to be furloughed a plan is in place to ensure that those not working for a significant period can be integrated back into the workforce and given all the support that they need to adjust. Mercator has disseminated appropriate material relating to assistance with adjusting to working from home and possibly also coping with home schooling/childcare. In addition to this, all employees have been asked to take part in the Covid Symptom Tracker in a bid to assist in providing important data to the government. Download the tracker here.

Although it is business as usual, Mercator recognise that this is not going to be a busy time in terms of business. Employees have therefore been encouraged to utilise spare time during the working day to assist others in need in their community; to date this has included going to the supermarket for those self-isolating and collecting prescriptions for vulnerable people.

Mercator used its extensive network to find nurses and care workers to work in a 42 bed COVID-19 step down unit in a new local care home set up by Coast Care in East Sussex. Although the medical/social care sector is not one of the areas that Mercator works within, a personal contact of an employee asked us to see if we could use our skills to support them in finding nurses for this important home. We are pleased to say that we were able to assist and the scheme managed to find a combined total of 30 nurses and care workers to work with the new patients entering the home as a result of COVID-19 (without any recruitment costs).

For more on the C-19 Business Pledge visit www.c19businesspledge.org

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