Don’t believe the doomsayers, we’re still working hard here on Westside

There may be a temporary close of hospitality and events venues, but Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, reminds us there are still thousands working in and around Broad Street. (And he should know – it’s where his glasses are made!)

As we enter the second week of the new lockdown, we all know that economically there is room for improvement. That said, things are not as bad as some would have us believe.

My top tip is to forget about the nonsense that social media hurls around. There are those who seem to spend all day, every day creating endless shallow and frankly silly conspiracy theories. This contributes to the billions of pounds that social media owners earn for spreading what is often ridiculous, polarising and ill-informed content.

It outrages me to see these irresponsible owners of social media incentivising clowns to produce content which is only aimed to generate outrage, deceit and paranoia. But remember that it is incentivised, and that means they almost always steer away from the unprofitable balanced truth.

Fortunately, the real world is far away from the dreary picture and images social media can offer us. In the real world, most people are generally sane, sensible and safe.

For example, walk along Broad Street today, and you will spot so many closed premises. These are the pubs, restaurants and clubs that I know bring so much joy to those who use them. They certainly look forlorn and no longer loved.

Yet behind those dark and sad frontages there is life, there is laughter and most certainly there is much joy as people beaver away industriously at their jobs.

I would estimate that within Westside we normally have about 25,000 people a day at work. At the moment, the overwhelming majority of those people are still at work. Yes, many are currently at home doing what they do, but a fair chunk, many thousands in fact, are still doing what they do at their place of work.

Clearly stores selling essential goods are in full swing. Take Sainsburys, where you often have to queue up to buy your daily or weekly provisions. And many food venues are still up and running, albeit only able to offer an order and delivery service for the time being.

Nando’s, Del Villaggio and Caffé Nero are just three whose wares I’ve just seen being enjoyed. Some are delivering to a spot just a few feet outside of their premises, directly into the expectant customer’s arms, but delivery it is.

Gosh, even Grosvenor casino is still open. Open for order and delivery food, that is, and doing a roaring trade with fantastic deals for our pals in the blue-light services. The only chips they deal with for now though are the ones you eat. Working inside the casino are a few of the staff and the general manager, all helping to keep the place alive.

Many more are still at work in our area. The ever-youthful Ed James is still broadcasting his sensational drive time radio show from Heart West Midlands’ studios on Westside. The same goes for Wes and Gemma on Free Radio just around the corner.

Indeed, both these radio stations are housed in offices with many good people all working away to bring us listening pleasure. ITV’s Central News is also working relentlessly right from the heart of Westside, as is our other TV station Birmingham Local TV (No. 7, on Freeview).

Nearby, businesses like international lens grinders Zeiss continue to work day in, day out, to allow the world to see matters much clearer. Indeed, I have just had my new glasses and insisted only on

Zeiss lenses made locally in Westside. With an impressive international reputation, they are the best in the world, and right on our doorstep.

Banks, hotels, chemists … I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. Westside still has countless wonders for locals and workers to enjoy, and for many of us it’s certainly business as usual. Therefore, next time you feel that all is lost, just remember how many thousands are still working away behind closed doors so that you can continue to feel normal, despite these strange times.

We’ll be reporting on all these workplaces and more in a new series of stories that starts on the news section of this website next week.

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