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Second recovery summit: Working together to support people affected by Covid-19 in Lewes district

Photo of Councillor Zoe Nicholson

The second recovery summit for Lewes district highlighted the importance of working together to create new jobs, a more skilled workforce and giving struggling people the support they need in the wake of Covid-19.

It was hosted online by Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Deputy Leader of Lewes District Council, on Wednesday (October 14) to bring together local businesses and voluntary and public sector bodies again following an initial summit in July.

The video conference included an update on the recovery plan for East Sussex by Richard Dawson, Head of Economic Development, Skills and Infrastructure at East Sussex County Council and Graham Peters, Chairman of Team East Sussex; a presentation on the business perspective and the Local Enterprise & Apprenticeship Platform (LEAP) programme by Christina Ewbank, of the Alliance of Chambers East Sussex; community wealth-building recommendations for Lewes district from Stuart MacDonald, Associate Director at the Centre for Local Economic Strategies; and a report on the impact of Covid-19 on household incomes from Toby Strudwick at Citizens Advice.

Speaking after the summit, Councillor Nicholson said: "A key theme arising from the summit is how we must work together using our public resources to support job creation and skills development.

"We sometimes think that this virus has affected people equally, at the summit we talked about how this simply isn't the case. The impact of job losses and debt are experienced most harshly by those in insecure work, people with disabilities and those caring for others. It is a sad fact that one in five keyworkers are struggling with debt.

"Our priority is to work with all our partners and communities to create jobs locally, spend as much public funding as we can in the local area and create opportunities for learning and skills development for everyone, particularly young people."

She added that Lewes District Council is supporting these measures by accelerating its building of sustainable homes, retrofitting council homes, supporting local businesses and developing the former UTC building in Newhaven to teach skills and much-needed jobs in cleaner, greener industries.

Jessica Britton, Executive Managing Director of NHS East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "The CCG is pleased to be a part of this valuable forum, working together with our partners in local government, business and the voluntary and community sector to support the health and wellbeing of local people."

Adam Chugg, Chief Executive of 3VA, said: "It's great to see Lewes District Council taking this lead to create a joint determination to act on inequality and bring together different parts of our community to work together to make a difference.

"At 3VA, we know our voluntary sector is stepping forward to respond to growing social needs and can also play our part in upskilling local people for the future."

Patrick Warner, Head of Innovation Strategy at Brighton & Hove Buses, said: "At Brighton & Hove Buses, we are an integral part of all the communities we serve, not just connecting people with the places they travel to but also in so many other ways, we add economic, social and environmental value.

"Through our involvement with the recovery summits and other regeneration projects throughout the district, we look forward to continuing to play our part in a wider community that is pulling together to help us all bounce back from the pandemic."

Watch a recording of the meeting