THE new Citizens’ Panel set up to help guide the West Midlands’ recovery from Covid-19 has started hearing the views of a cross-section of West Midlands people, it says.
The ‘diverse’ group of 36 residents is spending this month learning about the impact of coronavirus on communities, and will help guide what recovery plans should focus on, says the West Midlands Combined Authority.
Tracey Day from Hall Green, who is a professional carer, said she believes healthcare is a priority for the region. Tracey works for Age UK, Solihull, supporting people with dementia so they can live independently in their own home. Tracey said: “I joined the Citizens’ Panel for two reasons: one is to hear what other people feel, we’re all in our own bubble and you forget other people are going through the same situation. The other reason is to be heard – I have an opinion and I’d like to share it.
“Because I work in healthcare for me the priority should be health. However, we also need to be looking after the elderly. There are lots of isolated elderly people out there who have a befriender but due to Covid-19 restrictions they can’t visit them.
“There are so many lonely older people so we need to think about getting them safely back into the community, so they don’t feel so isolated.”
The Citizens’ Panel has been commissioned by the West Midlands Recovery Co-ordination Group (RCG) – a collaboration of senior officials from the region’s local authorities, emergency services and Local Enterprise Partnerships.
The region’s ongoing economic recovery work is being spearheaded by the Economic Impact Group, which brings together business leaders, central government, banks, trade unions and local authorities.
Meeting online on a regular basis during June, Tracey and other 35 panel members are sharing their experiences, considering evidence on impacts from expert witnesses, and deliberating over challenging trade-offs, before putting forward a set of recommendations to the RCG, says WMCA.
Councillor Brigid Jones, the chair of the Citizens’ Panel steering group and WMCA portfolio holder for inclusive communities, said: “The panel members are from a wide range of backgrounds and have a wide range of experiences.
“I am delighted that they have agreed to contribute to the panel by spending time learning how key decisions that affect the West Midlands are made. By providing their views and informed opinions they will be helping to shape the direction of our region’s recovery.”