Cumbria Tourism has been announced as the county’s official ‘portal’ to help coordinate accommodation for NHS staff who need an alternative place to stay while working on the front line to help people affected by Covid-19.

In recent days, Cumbria’s official destination management organisation has been working with Cumbria County Council to assist with coordinating key worker accommodation; A scheme deemed so successful, it has now been declared an official arrangement which will remain in place as long as necessary.

Cumbria Tourism would like to remind local residents that they may see unfamiliar faces in their communities in the coming weeks and months as accommodation providers offer them somewhere to stay for the purposes of social distancing from their own loved-ones while working to save lives.

Earlier this month, Cumbria Tourism launched a call for hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and self-catering property businesses to offer their accommodation, with more than 30 accommodation providers coming forward to offer their assistance so far. Many requests for accommodation have come in from key workers themselves, as well as those who have volunteered to enter the key worker sector from other lines of work.

Cumbria Tourism also suggested key workers should be provided with a notice to display in their vehicles, to ensure they are not wrongly assumed by members of local communities to be holidaymakers. The Lake District National Park Authority has confirmed it will suggest the NHS implements such a scheme.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “We’re pleased to have been invited to play this critical support role in the fight against Coronavirus. Our key workers such as those in the NHS are risking their lives to help others, and it’s been heartening to see so many of our members offering their help in this way. We already have a direct link with hundreds of accommodation providers, making the process of linking-up workers with a place to stay very straightforward and efficient.

“While we are working with police and our other partners to vehemently oppose leisure visitors, but at the same time, we do ask that residents remember that many people in holiday accommodation are far more likely to be key workers than tourists, and should be treated with the respect, gratitude and warmth they deserve”.

A Cumbria County Council spokesperson said, “The county council is working alongside a range of partners to understand the demand for accommodation and is supporting Cumbria Tourism to identify and match suitable accommodation to those who need it.”

Lesley Hornsby, owner of No 43 B&B in Arnside, is one of many to have offered her property to key workers to help them carry on working to keep the public safe and is keen to let them know that they have her full support.

Lesley says, “Here in Arnside, we’ve seen amazing community spirit. We have the Arnside volunteer group and so many businesses making sure everyone gets the supplies they need, none of us even need to leave the village. This group has 500 members with great good-will, which I really wanted to extend to our key workers. Arnside is such an idyllic village in stunning location I thought it would be so lovely if key workers were able to enjoy the tranquillity during their precious and well-deserved time off, when between their long shifts”.

Key workers requiring accommodation, or providers who can offer somewhere to stay can register their interest here.

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