It’s been a tough time for so many people and organisations. And if the predictions are correct it’s set to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

During our daily exercise walks we’ve seen permanent closure notices go up in many local shop windows and know of employees suddenly finding themselves without a job or the means to feed themselves or their families.

While government attempts to provide the resources needed to combat the spread of Covid-19, it became rapidly apparent that at a local level a growing number of people have an immediate need, for food and shelter.

Forming a “Cobra Committee” for Eastbourne

So, a few weeks back Bees Homes Finance Partner Paul put in a call to, Christina Ewbank, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.  He suggested the formation of a body akin to the national “Cobra” committee with representation by all those who might help to coordinate Eastbourne’s response.  To Christina’s credit she and Council Leader David Tutt then set about ‘rallying the troops’ and a couple of weeks ago the committee held its first virtual meeting.

Over the last two weeks so many initiatives have been put in place many of which may not have been visible to the local community but which are essential to the success of the response.   The voluntary sector has come together in liaison with the local Council, Chamber of Commerce, Police, Hospitality Association, Healthcare, Mayor’s Office, Media and our local MP. All are working to ensure we are able to get through this as best we can and striving to get changes of course / clarification from government.

Today for example we learned:

  • many small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) are likely to go bust rather than give the personal guarantees being demanded by lenders
  • companies are finding it hard to get their claims against their business interruption policies accepted by insurers
  • some councils (in the north) have started to pay grants under the special assistance screen – Eastbourne & Lewes have £50m to allocate
  • mental health charities are running online Houseparty and Zoom sessions to make sure the voices of the vulnerable are heard
  • East Sussex College have 6k frozen meals to be donated to those who need food
  • Eastbourne & Lewes Council have set up a call centre to handle enquiries and are trying to fast track payment of grants
  • mortgage lenders are still doing business but have tightened up their processes around Loans to Value ratios

Today, Ana and Paul presented the first “learning from doing” review aimed at improving the way the group operates collaboratively and relays important messages. This will be an ongoing exercise.

The need for help is immediate for countless people and organisations and we noted the danger of:

“creating a Rolls Royce process when the public demand is for a Reliant Robin.”

The list of actions from today’s meeting is long and Councillor David Tutt has his work cut out making sure they all get done in time!

“Here when you need us not when it suits us’

Over the past 3 years Bees Homes has adopted #distributedworking: no high street presence and making extensive use of social media and cloud solutions. It’s allowed us to focus on being the best not the biggest and provide exemplar service.

As a consequence, great management of the process of selling a property is a core skill and since formation we have built up an amazing group of contacts of partners and suppliers. We style ourselves Property Matchmakers and we’ve been using those skills working with the Cobra Committee. Over these past few weeks have worked with many of our clients, suppliers and partners to share expertise for the good of the community.

We have also used our Facebook and Instagram platforms to inform and provide ideas: we set up #rallyroundeastbourne as mechanism to assist people when searching for anything on Eastbourne’s response to the crisis; and in our business we have been promoting innovations such as virtual viewings of our properties.

Bees Homes is proud to be helping the community come together.