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With the full support and encouragement of the Duke of Westminster, the Grosvenor family and the Grosvenor Trustees, all parts of our organisation provided practical and financial assistance to help the communities in which we operate globally, manage the impact of, and recovery from, Covid-19.
We believe that we acted quickly and appropriately in responding to the requirements of our communities, tailoring our approach to local needs across our international markets. You can read more about our initiatives and charitable support below.
We offered rent deferrals and rent-free arrangements to independent and vulnerable tenants and other commercial businesses across our portfolio, while the rent for 26 charities within our London portfolio (which is heavily discounted) was waived.
To encourage workers and visitors back to central London, when public health guidelines stipulated it was safe to do so, we funded an extension to the UK Government’s popular dining discount scheme, Eat Out to Help Out, drawing 56,000 people back to our tenants’ eateries. We also completed a makeover of some shopping streets to widen pavements and increase capacity for outdoor dining.
Several of our shopping centres in Sweden were among the first in Europe to receive a Covid-19 safe verification, ensuring the ongoing safety of visitors and occupiers. The scheme considered the various guidelines introduced, including enhanced cleaning and hygiene programmes, visitor flow measures and staff training, to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission within the building. This ensured safety of tenants and encouraged more visitors to shop when regulations allowed.
Across our portfolio we assisted vulnerable residential tenants (also helping to manage any concerns about paying their rent) with various initiatives, including assisting with grocery shopping and delivery, hosting virtual coffee mornings and concerts, and even delivering compost and plants to help boost mental wellbeing during self-isolation.
We extended our support to low-income families, enabling access to PPE, technology and food donations in places such as Hong Kong and Scotland, and prepared and distributed hot meals to those in need, as well as home delivering free school meals to children impacted by school closures.
We helped procure laptops for disadvantaged students in North America so that they could continue learning from home, we provided tutoring to support children's education, and helped school children without broadband in rural areas of the UK access the internet to continue remote learning.
In Brazil, residents of our student accommodation buildings were offered ‘worry free leases’, meaning if their universities had to close, they could break their lease at no cost.
We made several our properties in Mayfair and Belgravia available to key workers and offered vacant properties and spaces to local Councils to help with their relief efforts.
We helped our suppliers with cashflow issues by paying them in advance as quickly as possible. In rural UK areas, we also helped maintain orders for fresh foods from local suppliers to local businesses that had to close in our communities and distributed them to those most in need.
A company in which we invest in, Ozo Innovations, produced disinfectants which de-activate the COVID-19 virus at its facilities in Oxford. It made this available to local health, transport, care home and prison services. And Precision Life, which develops AI analytics tools which interpret complex genomics data and other influences to provide better understanding of how foods, medicines and healthcare can improve peoples’ lives, identified 68 genes associated with a higher risk of developing a severe illness from COVID-19.
In total, Grosvenor contributed £16.4m to support communities around the world in 2020. Of this, the Duke of Westminster made a total of £12.5m available through his foundation, the Westminster Foundation.
Most of this donation was made immediately available to support the NHS in the UK, through NHS Charities Together, to provide respite, rehabilitation and mental health assistance to NHS staff and their families. Funding also went towards medical research and development linked to COVID-19.
Other beneficiaries of the donation included organisations playing a vital role in supporting vulnerable individuals or families who may struggle with the long-term impact of the epidemic, and charities providing essential food distribution to vulnerable families struggling to feed their children who would normally receive free school meals.
To further support the important work of the Westminster Foundation, our property business donated £3.9m in 2020 either through the Westminster Foundation or directly to local charities and organisations in the places in which we operate. The funding to core charities helped them continue to provide crucial services while additional funds were made available for Covid-19 research, to supply emergency equipment, PPE and water in hospitals, and to domestic violence and homeless shelters, enabling them to care for more people and offer free hygiene products and protective gear.
To deliver this support, we are indebted to the commitment of our people, many of whom played a vital role in supporting the communities in which they live, for example talking to isolated elderly residents, sewing PPE kit, delivering groceries and meals, and providing free tutoring for school children.
We continue to review the support we are providing, adapting our response as needed to ensure we continue to do all we can to help our communities.