What a year, Burnley | Rachel Bayley

When I started the role of Burnley Place Brand Manager back in April 2020, I naively thought I’d be sitting in an office with my colleagues by the summer. And yet here we are, almost a year later, still working from home.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 12:30 pm

I’ve dug out my LinkedIn post from that first day, it read: “I’ve only been in my new role for five hours and I’ve been blown away by the response of Burnley businesses to the Covid-19 situation.”

I then went on to list some of the actions of the borough’s business community, from VEKA UK reopening part of its mixing plant to support the construction of Nightingale hospitals to Crow Wood Hotel and Spa making 900 soups for charities and care homes.

There was also E&M Property Solutions, who provided free accommodation to NHS staff who didn’t want to risk infecting loved ones at home.

Burnley Place Brand Manager Rachel Bayley

And the list went on – our team couldn’t keep up with all of the great things businesses were doing.

Then there was the response of the people of Burnley, which continues to this day.

Did you know that Burnley was the first place in the country to establish a “hub” to help the most vulnerable members of our community, even before the government instructed towns and cities to do so?

Burnley Together is something we should all be proud of. From food parcels and preventing loneliness to mental health support and financial advice, the way the borough has come together to support its activities has been astounding.

On the road to brighter days

I certainly would never have thought last spring that we’d be going through a third national lockdown.

But for Burnley and much of the rest of Lancashire, we’ve been one of the hardest places hit in terms of heightened restrictions. It felt like we’d no sooner come out of lockdown 1.0 that we were subject to additional rules. Of course, it’s important we keep infection rates down, but there’s no denying the impact on not just businesses, but also mental health.

It’s been especially tough for our leisure and hospitality sector. We are incredibly lucky to have many great restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs in our borough. I know our people and businesses are resilient, but even the most positive among us have found it incredibly sad that these usually buzzing venues have had to close their doors.

That brief respite in summer when we could Eat Out to Help Out was wonderful and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who made it their mission “to help out the local economy” i.e. eat as much as possible guilt-free!

I’m hopeful that Boris Johnson’s recently announced roadmap will soon see us enjoy the fantastic establishments we have once again and with other members than our immediate household. No offence to my husband and children, but I’m ready for a change of scenery and conversation!