The Welcome Back Fund (WBF), which started life as the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund (RHSSF), was the Government initiative to help high streets respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From June 2020 to March 2022, Torbay received a combined total of £342,586 from the Reopening High Street Safely Fund (RHSSF) and the Welcome Back Fund (WBF).
The Reopening High Street Safely Fund was allocated in June 2020 and was used to help businesses reopen safely and encourage shoppers back into the high streets in a safe and responsible way.
The Welcome Back Fund announced in March 2021, continued this as a second phase of funding with a revised purpose of ensuring local areas are ready to welcome both residents and visitors back. Coastal economies were given extra funding to ensure specific challenges in these areas could be better addressed.
From June 2020 to March 2022 the Reopening High Street Safely Fund and Welcome Back Fund funded:
- A series of social distancing and high street marketing and communication campaigns, including signage, press and social media advertising, and a public facing reopening high streets safely video
- A full-time dedicated project/communications officer and information officer role supporting businesses in reopening safely
- Periodic footfall counts to assist with project monitoring and evaluation
- The addition and upkeep of temporary customer built, and sensor operated hand sanitiser stations for public realm use to increase hygiene and public confidence on the high street
- Access to a digital platform for high street businesses for a year to assist businesses in communicating with customers whilst in lockdown and to reopen safely.
- A range of marketing and promotional activities including the Walking on England’s Seafood Coast campaign from October 2021 to March 2022 and supporting the promotion of Torbay Council’s 2020 and 2021 winter parking promotions
- Various ‘Welcome Back Events’ including a series of events in each town centre with family friendly entertainment and activities in February 2022 half term.
- Pre-summer season beautification work across Torbay, focusing on seafronts, town centres and high footfall area, including:
- Relining the Brixham Central Car Park
- Repainting the chalets at Broadsands and Meadfoot, the railings around Beacon Cove, Torquay Promenade, Princess Gardens and Brixham Breakwater Lighthouse
- Refurbishment of the shelter at Babbacombe Downs, Cockington public toilets and Torquay Harbour benches
- Repair work at Oddicombe slipway and chalets
- Updating finder posts on Torquay Seafront
- Installation of temporary bins in high footfall areas in Torbay.