April 16, 2020 @ 14:13 by Alison Cowie
Northumbrian Water has joined forces with a host of businesses and universities across the UK in an initiative to help the North East pull through the coronavirus crisis.
The water company has signed the C-19 Business Pledge, a new scheme founded by former Cabinet Minister, Rt Hon. Justine Greening and entrepreneur David Harrison.
By signing the pledge, Northumbrian Water agrees to do all it can to help its customers, employees and communities get through the immediate challenges of coronavirus, as well as aiding in the challenges of the recovery.
Some of the steps Northumbrian Water has already taken for its customers include setting up a dedicated online help centre, signing up vulnerable people to its Priority Services Register and introducing a new three-month payment break for those financially affected by the pandemic.
So far, the water company has agreed over 4000 payment breaks for families who need it.
It’s also supporting its employees, keeping people safe with more than 1200 of the team working from home where possible, and even retraining people into different roles rather than going down a furlough route.
Employees who now have more capacity in their roles than usual will also be making a difference in North East communities, volunteering to support the vital work of charities and public services, as well as supporting the NHS Trusts and care facilities to make sure water supplies in medical facilities across the region are as a resilient as possible.
Richard Warneford, Northumbrian Water’s wastewater director (pictured), said: “We know that these are uniquely challenging times and we feel we have a responsibility to do all that we can to help support those battling the impacts of coronavirus.
“We have already taken a number of steps to support our incredible people who are working hard to keep our taps and sewers flowing across the region, as well as our valued customers and the communities that we work with.
“We’re proud to formalise our efforts in these areas and join other leading businesses across the country in signing the C19 Business Pledge and continuing the fight against the virus.”
So far, the pledge has already had the backing of more than 150 businesses and includes Newcastle University, Teesside Unversity as well as Asda and EDF Energy.