Case study: COVID-19 Recovery Framework in St. Helens

Author Simon Quin

When the COVID restrictions struck St Helens in March 2020, as everywhere it caused a lot of uncertainty about the town centre’s future. This case study shows how the town used the COVID-19 Recovery Framework as a way to approach activity, support and planning during the immediate response.

Date added 16 June 2020
Last updated 16 June 2020

When the COVID restrictions struck St Helens in March 2020, as everywhere it caused a lot of uncertainty about the town centre’s future. St Helens Council understood at an early stage that they would need to be in regular contact with businesses to ensure that payment of grants could proceed. They recognised that the normal approach of writing to businesses at their trading address would not work. A small tactical group was formed with the local authority, Chamber of Commerce and Employment Services, to look at the support available and how to reach businesses in the town.

The Town Centre Manager and the tactical group shared their contacts but realised they were missing many. They embarked on a two-week social media campaign to contact businesses, using existing Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and working with other local groups, to build a list of businesses. Initial contact with these businesses identified that many felt disorientated by what was happening and lacking in confidence about the future. This meant, the Town Centre Manager said, that he “spoke to more businesses in 4 weeks than in the last 4 years”.

Introducing the COVID-19 Recovery Framework to St Helens

The Town Centre Manager initially saw the then IPM Post COVID-19 Recovery Framework on Twitter soon after it was posted with a link to a blog post on why places should act now. He said it “immediately made sense to me”. Until then, it was very difficult to be certain what to do. He valued “having someone out there to help us”.

This case study introduces the town's work with the Recovery Framework, and how it helped to direct activity in response to the pandemic.