Ideas sought to help Leicester build back better


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People are being asked how they would like to see Leicester build back better in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s public engagement team DMU Local is appealing for people, communities and neighbourhood groups to get in touch as it continues citywide consultations looking at life under lockdown and the challenges ahead.

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DMU, working with lead partner alongside Leicester City Council for the past two months, has teamed up with healthcare organisations, businesses and the emergency services to identify issues and co-create sustainable solutions in the short, medium and long-term.

More than 70 academic experts in diverse fields such as economics, business, the arts, technology and healthcare have been assessing the impact that the virus has had on Leicester in five key areas – health, environment, the economy, communities and infrastructure and suggesting ways that Leicester can respond.

Early work has included looking at the effects of coronavirus on different sectors of society, either through discussions, surveys or interviews and trying to find ways to prevent anyone being left behind.

Over the past fortnight, DMU has so far run consultations with more than 40 community groups and organisations, hearing from neighbourhoods how the pandemic has affected residents, businesses, schools with more to come.

Here are just some of the early ideas from those first consultations:

* Boosting biodiversity by using green roofs and green walls in urban buildings – incentivising developers to include green roofs on new developments, and increasing the amount of green space within the city, linked to positive mental health

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*  A central hub for resources for food banks to improve collection of food, storage, transport and distribution across the city.

* Rethink debt advice and access to credit to ensure the poorest are not punished through existing systems.

* Co-create novel projects with communities to find ways tackle the underlying causes of poverty in Leicester, not just create responses like more food banks.

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* Issue a Leicester (Covid-19) Bond which is available for people to buy and raise money towards the city’s recovery, similar to those issued after the First World War.

* Not everyone has a home big enough for home working, study space or quiet time. Could public buildings be reimagined for work use, and re-designed in line with social distancing guidance?     

* Create a bank of old computer equipment (tablets, laptops) to be repurposed for those who cannot afford their own. This could be hired out as a loan or offered at cost from a dedicated centre or mobile facility.

“Everyone is working together to ensure Leicester can make the strongest possible recovery,” said Prof Andy Collop. “As a truly civic university, DMU is full of people with the time, skills and expertise to play a role in helping Leicester emerge from this crisis as a stronger, more connected city.

“I hope DMU can be of real, practical benefit to people, businesses and organisations across Leicester now and in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

Leicester City Council assistant Mayor Kirk Master said: “DMU has been working closely with the council via the city mayor’s office on Leicester’s recovery plan going forward. It’s vital that all partners that can contribute to any form of recovery going forward for the betterment of the city are playing their part, and we welcome these efforts."

* If you would like to take part in the community consultations please email local@dmu.ac.uk for the details of upcoming sessions.

Posted on Thursday 4th June 2020

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