I wanted to write directly to you as Chamber members across the Thames Valley business community.
Every Thames Valley business – no matter its size, sector, age, county or town – is currently facing unprecedented challenges. We can only overcome those challenges by sticking together, supporting each other and promoting a common-sense approach in all we do and plan for.
That’s why the Thames Valley Chamber, alongside our network partners in the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), is working tirelessly to help businesses on the front line – your business – as the ‘first responders’ on the ground.
Through your Accredited Chamber network and under the leadership of my colleague Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, we have unprecedented and ongoing access to Downing Street, meeting daily in the last week with senior Cabinet Ministers, the UK Government, the Governor of the Bank of England and financial institutions to ensure we get practical support to businesses – fast.
We are in the room, at the top table, and we are making it clear that businesses and their employees need immediate support and highlight the importance of getting cash to the front line to keep our businesses, communities and economy going.
Our reputation locally through our policy and advocacy work with local MPs at critical times provides for regular dialogue with Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. As a network we are making the case for Government to go further faster to support business.
Chambers play a key part in bringing goods and services into the UK. We must and will keep our customers trade and key UK suppliers moving. As an organisation we are fully operational and here to support you. Where possible my colleagues are adjusting to working from home from Monday. Our International Trade staff remain here to help, and we recognise the efforts of customers who are responding to our calls to move now to electronic and express documentation. This is critical.
We want to ensure that businesses in the Thames Valley get clear, actionable information at speed in order to take critical decisions and that Government acts on the pressing, real world needs of our business communities. Our Covid 19 Business Continuity toolkit is aimed at ensuring you have access to a single portal.
Our business community is responding by supporting those most vulnerable. I am speaking daily to companies that are working with suppliers and community groups locally to get products and services where they are needed most. In response, we are giving priority to member news and member to member offers to help expediate these efforts.
Chambers of Commerce remain a ‘room to do business’, be that temporarily on a virtual basis. The focus of our events programme is now on digital and webinar format to give our members the opportunity to share best practice and to provide much needed support to employees and employers. We are also developing virtual interactive International Trade training courses. Pledges to support mental health and wellbeing are set out in our 2020 Business Manifesto and will be ramping up our focus on this in the weeks ahead.
May I remind you that as a Chamber member you have access to our 24/7 Legal advice helpline.
Chambers are in business for business and we will be there every step of the way as we navigate the days and weeks ahead. Count on us – and on each other. Together we can bring our businesses and communities together and lead the fight for the future.
With very best wishes always,
CEO, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce