This article was originally published on Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s website, we are republishing it because it illustrates the Group’s innovation strategy. You can find the article on the Group’s website here.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has spontaneously engaged across the world in a great number of activities to support the communities in which it operates. We have decided to dedicate our resources, assets and connections to serve the communities in the most efficient and helpful ways during these unique times.
The initiatives start locally, using the teams’ knowledge of the communities surrounding our assets. The most affected countries are the most active in implementing quick solutions. They are at different levels of maturity and implementation, depending on the countries’ needs and their governments’ actions.
PREVENT & FIGHT
Our first priority is to do everything in our power to fight against COVID-19 and help stop the outbreak.
To this aim, we are making several of our locations available to health and military authorities to stock material, set up testing sites or field hospitals, or any other medical and sanitary need.
In France, in addition to vacant land in the Paris and Toulouse regions, we have offered cark parks to the health and military authorities at eight of our centres (Westfield Parly 2, Westfield Vélizy 2, Westfield Rosny 2, Ulis 2, Villeneuve 2, Alma, Toison d’Or and Polygone Riviera) – the equivalent of 45 000 sqm.
We have made our locations in the United States available to local hospital networks and municipal/county health departments as testing sites, while in Germany, Gropius Passagen (Berlin) now hosts a COVID-19 testing “drive-in” for healthcare providers and fragile populations. One has also been installed at Porte de Versailles in Paris, on our Convention and Exhibition centre.
We are also providing support for the health system response capacity.
In Spain, our teams at Parquesur (Madrid) worked with the hotel adjacent to the centre to provide additional beds for the local hospital. Meanwhile our Valencia shopping centre, Bonaire, is supplying water tanks for sanitation of public premises, and in the San Sebastian region, Garbera donated a thousand euros to buy medical supplies and equipment.
In the United States, we are working hand-in-hand with the Red Cross and other local NGOs to organise blood drives at our centres and address the supply shortage caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
PROTECT OUR COMMUNITIES
In these uncertain times, some are more exposed than others. True to our longstanding commitment to support the communities in which we operate, we are taking action to protect and aid the most vulnerable.
In France, we are offering nine empty retail spaces in eight shopping centres (La Part-Dieu, Villeneuve 2, Westfield Carré Sénart, Westfield Forum des Halles, Westfield Les 4 Temps, So Ouest, Aéroville and Ulis 2) to associations fighting domestic abuse and violence against women. They will be temporarily located next to the hypermarkets in our centres and will provide counsel and support to witnesses and victims of abuse and mistreatment.
Our US team are supporting a variety of NGOs across major markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Diego, providing services to those directly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak or providing medical staff and essential supplies to address the crisis. We have made monetary and in-kind donations (food, medical supplies and toiletries, computers, art supplies…etc.) to local food banks and organisations addressing the needs of vulnerable populations: seniors, homeless, and veterans, as well as minority and economically disadvantaged children, particularly those left without meals due to the closing of schools. The range of actions is vast from donating food to A Safe Haven in Chicago and providing daily necessities for families in New York City through the Showing Hearts Foundation The #WestfieldCares initiative will be bringing together all the charitable work done in the US, also engaging our customers and our communities.
Other local initiatives to maintain community bonds face to exceptional challenges also include:
- Purchase of safety masks for single mothers organisations in Czech Republic.
- Support to first responders (police and fire departments), nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers in the United States, with gift cards to operating centre eateries during the crisis.
- Food and essential products collection in Spain.
- Promotion of local “help line” for the frail elderly through centre social media and marketing tools in Czech Republic.
- Support to local food retailers through free publicity on social media and the centre’s LED screens for “home delivery” services in The Netherlands.