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How corporates can support vulnerable communities

CAPE TOWN- In the face of severe socio-economic realities caused by the Covid-19 outbreak and uncertain times for all people of South Africa, what can be done by businesses and organisations to help vulnerable communities?

Business strategy and projects manager at Veer Steel Mills, Neil Reddy, says that while government has responded quickly and decisively in dealing with the outbreak, it cannot operate in isolation. He says that support and innovation in the private sector is needed now more than ever.

In an article that appeared in BizCommunity, Reddy says it is vital to consider that dealing with the virus and its effects are not experienced equally by all South Africans.

“We are all feeling the effects of this pandemic very differently, depending on where you reside and who you live with, how you earn money, your mental and physical health, and your access to healthcare and basic amenities.”

Reddy says that vulnerable communities need to be equipped to combat the spread of the coronavirus. His suggestion is to implement communication campaigns which are tailored to local languages and with customs and cultures kept in mind. 

Compassion and community collaboration are required and there should consistently be awareness, a reinforcement of best healthcare practices and a sense of accountability within areas.

Rather than simply offering words of wisdom, Reddy says that Veer Steel Mills have taken a proactive response to assisting vulnerable communities. 

“As part of our community-level response to the coronavirus, we have partnered with the City of Ekurhuleni and their Department of Community Safety, headed by MMC Phaladi Frans Mmoko, to donate 300 food parcels to indigent families in Tembisa and Germiston. The areas surrounding Veer Steel Mills are in dire need of necessities and ongoing support, such as toiletries and groceries. These communities are the lifeblood of our company, it is our responsibility to ensure that they are provided for.”

While he advocates for supporting communities, Reddy says that it is also essential to recondition staff in companies to operate safely under the new normal while at work and provide them with material to better identify symptoms, and understand necessary hygiene and sanitisation measures.  


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