GO! Southampton, the city’s Business Improvement District (BID), has been supporting local businesses throughout the pandemic with a number of projects and services that have facilitated a cleaner, safer and more enjoyable city centre experience for residents, visitors and workers alike.

Since March 2020, the BID team have been adapting their plans in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to prioritise the immediate needs of their members and the wider city centre.

And the organisation is supporting the Daily Echo Love Local Business campaign which calls for support and backing for businesses across the city.

Giles Semper, Executive Director said: “Last year, we changed our tactics dramatically to fit the needs of our 650 member businesses.

"Providing the latest COVID-19 information – particularly funding opportunities – as well as delivering essential and relevant services gave businesses the extra hand they needed during these challenging times.”

One of the BID’s main projects has been to monitor the security of business premises during lockdowns, in partnership with SWL security.

After a successful pilot, GO! Southampton’s security team has become a permanent service, patrolling the city seven days a week.

The team also deters anti-social behaviour and crime in the city and supports the essential businesses that remain open.

On the occasions when businesses were able to reopen, GO! Southampton worked closely with the council to ensure a safe experience for customers.

The ‘Be Smart, Stay Apart’ floor stickers in the city centre and district centres allowed businesses to manage their outside queues more effectively.

The BID’s cleaning team gave the city centre a deep clean and initiatives such as the #BENCH project and the busking project brought much-needed animation to Above Bar Street.

The team has also found ways to stay connected to visitors through the Visit Southampton channels by promoting local offers and providing COVID-19 information to a wider audience.

The Southampton From Your SOfa platform launched last summer on the Visit Southampton website and acts as a digital hub for cultural venues to showcase their virtual exhibitions, events and resources.

Looking forward, the BID is working on further public art initiatives and ways to expand the opportunities for outdoor dining under the #southamptoninsideout project.

Later in the year the BID’s new Re:Claim festival will – if permitted – bring a huge variety of street-based entertainment to the city centre.