March 20, 2020 @ 11:55 by Alison Cowie
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has set up a new call centre to offer advice and support to businesses across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The centre will operate Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm, offering business advice to local companies in this unprecedented situation.
Local people can call the helpline on 01642 662 777 or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as providing specific advice to businesses across the region, the service will also be able to direct callers to other organisations who can provide the appropriate advice where necessary.
Anyone looking to volunteer to help those who are in the most need as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will also be able to get in touch and offer their time and support.
Working with experienced Stockton-based call handling provider Lemon Business the service will initially operate with 20 call handlers, but, with the resources and support provided by Lemon, that number will fluctuate as required as the services responds to the volume of calls.
Mayor Houchen has already offered his organisation’s resources to tackle the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, and is working with the Local Resilience Forums (LRF), local councils, hospitals, the fire and police services to coordinate a response to make sure people affected are treated as quickly as possible and that those in need of other vital public services continue to receive support.
Mayor Houchen said: “Businesses across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are understandably worried about the coronavirus pandemic and how all the announcements from the Government over recent days will impact them and their business.
“Those who need support and advice will now be able to email in or call our new team of dedicated staff who will be manning the phones with the support of a fantastic local call centre company, giving people the information they need and directing them to the right organisations where necessary.
“Having met with all of our local councils, hospital representatives and others, I’m heartened that everyone is working tirelessly to do all they can to protect vital public services and prepare for what is to come in the weeks and months ahead.
“Our absolute priority is to protect life and do all we can to support the most vulnerable who are at risk. I will continue to do everything I can to make sure local people and businesses are supported through this very difficult time.”