BBC Radio Sussex, BBC Radio Surrey and this newspaper have joined forces to launch #CrawleyTogether as we shine a spotlight on the issues faced by people in the area.
Coronavirus has decimated the aviation industry – traffic at Gatwick Airport declined by 78 per cent in 2020 and a large percentage of the Crawley workforce is either furloughed or claiming benefits.
Mark Carter, acting managing editor at BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey, said: “Crawley and the surrounding area has been dramatically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic for a number of reasons, not least the significant reduction in flights in and out of Gatwick.
“Both BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey cover Crawley and in the weeks and months ahead, we want to shine a spotlight on the issues faced by local people.
“#CrawleyTogether will be a listening ear but we also want to offer as much practical help as we possibly can.
“I’m also delighted that the Crawley Observer has come on board to support us on this project.”
Henry Smith MP for Crawley said the town has received some £400million in government support with one in three local adults having received a Covid vaccination.
But he added: “With a local economy significantly reliant on Gatwick Airport we’ve suffered more than most, that’s why in Parliament I set up the Future of Aviation Group to lobby for this vital sector’s recovery and I pay tribute to the many wonderful people across Crawley who have rallied to help each other.
“In that I thank the Crawley Observer teaming up with BBC Sussex and Surrey with the fantastic #CrawleyTogether campaign to promote that great spirit.”
Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said Crawley’s reliance on the aviation industry has left it particularly exposed to Covid-related lockdowns and the collapse in air passenger numbers.
He added: “As a result, it has seen one of the highest shares of workers placed on furlough in the UK.
“Crawley will need a tailored plan to rebuild from this period – not a one-size-fits-all approach from Whitehall”
People in the town have lost friends and family, missed countless important life moments, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Peter Lamb said.
He added: “With almost 23,000 residents unemployed or waiting on furlough and SEISS to see if they have a job to go back to, Covid-19 has hit Crawley harder than almost anywhere else.
“But, in all of this there is hope, in the ways people have looked out for each other and the willingness of different groups and organisations of every type to come together to help get Crawley back on the road to recovery.”
Gatwick Airport has been approached for comment.