Today we mark a full year since the first lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic. There is no doubt that this time will be remembered as the most difficult year to operate a business in recent memory. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way we work, shop, interact and socialise and the ramifications will be felt for some time to come.
As a membership organisation, giving voice to over 100 local businesses in Haslemere and surrounding areas, the Chamber is well aware of the challenges that this year has brought to retailers, agencies and service providers, bars, restaurants and venues. It has been a privilege to represent and work with local businesses during the pandemic and see the resilience, innovation and pragmatism that have been the hallmarks of Haslemere’s business community.
We’ve worked hard to support businesses and the wider community. Some of the ways we have done this include: arranging for TV coverage of our town’s on the BBC’s flagship ‘South Today’ programme, lobbying the Business Secretary for additional support for businesses, hosting a virtual ‘business surgery’ with Jeremy Hunt MP, sharing COVID-related information and resources through our website and social media channels, highlighting concerns about parking, safety and security with Waverley Borough Council and Surrey Police and playing our part in the wider community response.
Our committee experts have offered pro bono advice to members, demonstrating the wealth of specialist advice and expertise available. We have forged ever closer links with Haslemere Town Council, working in partnership on this summer’s ‘Heart of Haslemere ‘campaign. Our Business Barometer survey has provided detailed evidence for stakeholders on local business confidence and concerns. A security-focused WhatsApp group has been introduced to enable businesses to share information about suspicious activity in real time.
The Chamber is well-known for its networking activities and while we haven’t been able to get together in person as much as we would have liked over the past year, we have adapted to the ‘new normal’, playing a tangible role in both the lives of local businesses and the wider community. As we look ahead, our aim is to continue to focus on getting local businesses the right support, in the right place, at the right time.
If you have an idea, suggestion or project that will benefit the business community then we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at Newsletter@haslemerechamber.co.uk