SMALL businesses and charity organisations from across Blackburn have met with the borough council to express their concerns about the ongoing local coronavirus lockdown.

Split n Polish beauty salon, Unit 2 Fitness for Women, Predators martial arts Academy, Johnson’s Swimming Baths, Sliding Doors and the Switch youth organisation were all in attendance at the virtual gathering.

Taking on board their concerns were Blackburn with Darwen executive members for public health and wellbeing Councillor Damian Talbot, acting chief executive Sayyed Osman and financial director Louise Mattinson.

Maria Rigby of Split n Polish said: “It was a good meeting; I think they sound like they’re on our side so what we’re trying to do know if gather testimonials explaining what it is businesses need.”

She added: “If we don’t get some assistance a lot of businesses could be going under.”

Many of these small organisations have been frustrated by their inability to get back to work, despite having taken measures to ensure the safety of customers and staff, including stocking up on PPE, training staff in social distancing regulations and introducing more rigorous cleaning routines.

Despite this, the high infection rate in the borough has meant that restrictions have made trading difficult to impossible.

Ms Rigby said: “During the meeting we were talking about people’s mental state and it was very emotional and draining hearing about people’s businesses.”

She also said that businesses like hers are vital to the emotional wellbeing of customers, acting as social hubs and helping people build up their self-esteem and positive body images.

Sam Ali of Switch, said: “Youth organisations, gyms, salons, these places should have been some of the first places to reopen.

“Already a lot of people we work with are suffering from mental and physical health problems and we try and work to tackle that, so not being able to do that has been a big source of frustration.”

Cllr Talbot said: “What I found was that there were some very powerful stories about what businesses have been experiencing over the past weeks.

“It has had a massive impact, not just on the businesses but also on the customers who are not able to access them.

“The main focus now is on posing to the government to either allow the businesses to reopen or to provide some financial assistance to make up the shortfall they’ve suffered.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council now hopes to be able to set up a forum in which local business representatives are able to put their concerns directly to local government minister Simon Clarke MP.