COVID19, a message from the leader of Southwark Council

The coronavirus is shaping our daily lives and WISE16 is offering our online platform to promote messages for the community. In this post we publish a message from Cllr Peter John OBE, leader of Southwark Council

Coronavirus (Covid-19): an update for residents

These are unprecedented and concerning times for Southwark and the wider world, and I would like to reassure you that the council is working hard to protect residents, staff and services from the impact of Covid-19. I have agreed to stay in post as Leader of Southwark Council beyond my planned departure date of 25 March to offer stability and continuity, ensure our plans to respond to the crisis are robust and working, and that our communities are safe.

We are taking every step to prepare for an increase in confirmed cases of the virus. At the moment most key council services are still running as normal. We have strong and tested plans in place to keep delivering services during this difficult period and we will ensure our most vulnerable residents keep getting the support they need. To support this we may stop doing some non-essential work to support frontline services and redeploy staff as necessary.

We will continue to provide up-to-date information about our services and the support available through all our communications channels.

Thank you for your ongoing support through this challenging time.

Health advice

We’re asking all residents to follow the national guidance on self-isolation and social distancing. This includes not going out to the pub, the theatre, or to other social activities. You should stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital and please don’t call 111 unless you have to.

If you are unwell, the people who live with you will also need to stay home.

Financial support for residents

We will continue to do whatever we can to assist our residents where they experience additional hardship. While we await details from central government on how they intend to release to councils the money announced in last week’s budget, we are taking action locally to provide some protection to those in our communities who are most in need. We will be supplementing our Southwark emergency support scheme (SESS) budget of £650k per year with an additional emergency fund of £1.5m.

Council meetings

We are currently reviewing our approach to council meetings. Following recent advice about social distancing, only meetings that are essential for business or statutory reasons will go ahead. The main reasons for cancelling or postponing events are:

  • Exclusion of vulnerable groups who may be self-isolating or social distancing
  • Impact on staff who need to focus on Covid-19 response

Libraries and leisure centres

We are carefully thinking about the implications of the current advice with regards to social distancing for our libraries and leisure centres, but are also aware of how important these facilities are for many residents. They remain open as we consider the best way forward, but we have cancelled events in our libraries such as Baby Rhyme Time.

What you can do to help


We know many community groups and residents are looking out for one another and offering support to people who are vulnerable. This is welcome. Read our webpage about volunteering, and who to contact if there are specific concerns about a resident.

Please don’t buy food in bulk

We’re asking that everyone is considerate in the way that they shop. Bulk buying can sometimes mean that others will be left without and we want to ensure that all our residents, and their families, have access to food.

Waste and recycling

Please make sure your refuse is securely contained, using extra bin bags if possible, to reduce the risk of council staff coming into contact with COVID-19. Avoiding contamination of recycling with other substances is now more important than ever, as it will enable our waste staff to do their jobs safely.

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