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It’s business as (un)usual for ELBA

Big Issue supporters East London Business Alliance have been serving their community for 30 years and they continue to do so even as the coronavirus hits the UK

ELBA (East London Business Alliance) is here for the community and business as we all face the challenges of Covid-19 together. We are responding to the needs of east London community partners and business members by offering more remote volunteering opportunities, employment support and fundraising, as we all have to adjust.

A registered charity, ELBA was established in 1989 by businesses wanting to support the immediate east London community surrounding Canary Wharf and City of London. ELBA has over 30 years’ experience in enabling successful partnerships between business and the community.

With the support of our members and business partners, ELBA has a proud history of serving our east London community, and now we need to do so more than ever. We have been delighted by the number of our members that have proactively contacted us to help.

We are working closely with our community partners to understand in detail the challenges they face in serving local people at present, and with our business partners to meet those needs through remote volunteering, employment support and fundraising.

Everyone knows this period is really challenging — social distancing, new remote working habits, jobs losses, school closures likely — and some will be much harder hit than others. ELBA is ensuring that with our business partners, we support our east London community.

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We know foodbanks in east London are struggling in the wake of the virus. Donations are down 25 per cent and, with people panic-buying in supermarkets, important staples like UHT milk are difficult to purchase. The current health situation means fewer people are physically volunteering in the community, so to combat this ELBA is running a virtual food drive.

Here are some examples of what ELBA is doing:

We are working with our partners to create a relief fund for community organisations working directly with older people who are isolated in their homes, helping families under stress, with people who have lost their jobs and supporting the people still at work who are keeping things going.

As the local labour market experiences some inevitable turbulence, we stand ready to continue helping people who face uncertainty or unemployment. Our programmes that enable access to key employability skills and sustainable career opportunities will remain accessible both digitally and where appropriate, face to face.

We are also redoubling our efforts that aim to assist individuals with precarious employment status, including those who have no choice but to go into work because they cannot afford to stay home and lose pay.

In partnership with foodbanks and businesses, the ELBA Virtual Food Drive has been established to enable business volunteers to do an online shop for a foodbank.

Telephone befriending for the elderly. During the coronavirus outbreak, many older people are facing long periods of time isolated from other people. As part of our Isolation Reduction Project, ELBA is organising volunteers to call an older person, to break the feeling of loneliness during this time.

Whether schools remain open or close shortly, we are looking for inspirational speakers to share their career journey via Skype and webinars with schools, to help boost morale.

We are asking business volunteers to remotely give feedback on jobseeker and student CVs and offer e-mentoring support, so individuals can improve their employability despite uncertain times.

We are organising video mock interviews so that business volunteers can chat through an individual’s CV and a job description with them, work through suggested interview questions and answers together.

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