Last updated: 15 June 2023
Priority 2: safe and healthy lives
During the pandemic, we carried out extensive research to understand its impacts on our residents and to act to address them. Over 11,000 people took part in surveys, and a range of focus and research groups were held. We have linked this research with wider economic and social indicators.
Residents’ top concerns were the impact on jobs and family finances, alongside continuing worries about public safety and health.
Residents also wanted to make sure that in the longer-term we tackle the inequalities which have been highlighted throughout the pandemic and maintain a focus on the prosperity of the borough.
Priority two: Safe and healthy lives
The pandemic has deeply disrupted the lives of our residents, affecting their physical and mental health.
Residents remain very concerned about the pandemic, scoring an average of 6/10 for worry levels. Over 57 per cent are concerned that others will not stick to physical distancing guidelines. 61 per cent of our residents say that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, whilst 50 per cent say that it has had an impact on their physical health, which rises to 62 per cent for those with a long term illness.
The pandemic is not over yet, and we must work together to be able to keep our families, friends and neighbours safe from Covid-19.
To do this, we want to work in new ways, building on what we have learnt during the crisis. We will work together with our partners and residents.
Our Five-Point Plan
1. Protecting people from Covid-19 and placing them at the centre of decision-making
We will do all we can to ensure our residents can get Covid-19 support, information and testing within Waltham Forest. We will listen to our communities, proactively educate businesses and residents with accessible information, and enforce measures introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
We have set up a ‘Citizens’ Panel’ of 75 residents from all walks of life across the borough to help guide our work over the year ahead. We will also work with national government as constructive and honest partners, and we will keep working to understand the health and economic impacts of Covid-19 on our diverse communities.
2. New ways to work together
When we act together, we can achieve more. Covid-19 has demonstrated the need to work in a radically different way with greater collaboration.
During the crisis, we cut through bureaucracy to better support the NHS and Whipps Cross hospital’s discharge service. This flexible way of working must continue across the public sector if we are to serve our residents effectively. The provision of modern healthcare will be central to all our development plans, as we work to ensure the delivery of a much needed new Whipps Cross hospital. We will continue to work with our residents and partners to solve community challenges, playing a uniting and leading role to ensure there are no organisational barriers to services.
3. Safe neighbourhoods and town centres
We will focus on keeping our neighbourhoods and town centres safe. We will introduce measures locally to ensure our high streets are safe spaces for people to shop, to do business and to spend time, and we will be visible in our communities, offering reassurance and advice, to keep people safe from Covid-19 and help to stop its spread.
We will also continue to work on issues we know matter to people so that everyone can feel safe in Waltham Forest. This includes being ambitions in standing up to hate and divisions in our communities. Working with residents, we will reduce hate incidences, doing so through a range of initiatives, including a pioneering bystander intervention.
4. Improving mental health support
Our residents have spoken bravely about the impacts on their mental health. The restrictions and impacts of the pandemic unfortunately continue to limit people’s access to social and familial support networks.
With our volunteers and partners, we will deliver a borough-wide befriending service and work with residents to help their communities. We will support the new self-help and mutual aid organisations, working together to tackle upcoming challenges.
5. Homelessness and quality housing
A decent roof over everyone’s head remains a priority. One-off Government funding enabled us to house all of our street homeless people within weeks in the midst of the crisis. We will push for longer term funding and support to tackle homelessness, and fight hard for a fairer deal on tenants’ rights around evictions.
We will implement in full our new landlord licensing scheme, ensuring high standards in the private rented sector and taking over properties where landlords fail to provide acceptable standards.