HeathLive keeps community connected in lockdown

John Lewis

The Heath has underpinned its reputation as one of the UK’s most innovative and community-minded business and technical parks by creating ‘HeathLive’, an interactive website to keep resident businesses and the local community connected during the Coronavirus lockdown.

It has been praised by Lancaster University Prof Rachel Cooper, one of a panel of architects and designers judging the ‘Vision of Future Living’ competition, sponsored by the park’s owner SOG Group and staged by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The competition aims to generate ideas on how The Heath can be transformed into a sustainable and futuristic environment where people can work, live and play.

Prof Cooper considers Heathlive an intelligent social hub that, with further development, can become a social tool and be part of everyday life in the future.  The concept has now been included in the briefing document for finalists taking part in the RIBA competition.

Leading figures from the worlds of entertainment, sport and politics have been sending messages to be posted on HeathLive which was launched by SOG Group earlier this month.

Message: Esther Rantzen

HeathLive is the brainchild of SOG owner and Managing Director John Lewis (pictured above). While scientific research into combating the Covid-19 virus is being undertaken by some of the companies based at The Heath, staff at numerous others are having to work from home or have been furloughed. Meanwhile all The Heath’s many daily events and leisure activities, which usually attract hundreds of local people to the site, have been cancelled.

HeathLive is hosted by Mr Lewis’ son Ryan, who works at The Heath and is a member of popular Merseyside band The Hummingbirds. The website was constructed and is managed by consultant Simon Lewis.

In a filmed message, John Lewis says: “Just because you can’t get to The Heath because of the Government lockdown doesn’t mean to say that The Heath community can’t come to you, through HeathLive.

“HeathLive is a great initiative and congratulations to Simon Lewis, to Ryan Lewis and all the team for pulling this all together so quickly, brilliant!

“It’s a great platform for us all to keep in touch. This is very important at the moment, so I would encourage everyone to log on every day. Like any community, you only get out what you put in, so get involved and log on. Engage, participate, and speak to your friends and, through the Chat Room, meet new friends and acquaintances.”

Mr Lewis also used HeathLive platform to recognise the “fantastic and courageous” work of NHS staff. He called on the Government to introduce a new national medal, styled on the wartime George Cross, for “those members of staff who have gone completely beyond the call of duty to keep people alive, those very people who are our friends and our family.”

HeathLive’s content aims to entertain viewers as well as keep them connected at a time when many people are feeling isolated and lonely.

Since it was officially opened by Liverpool City Mayor Steve Rotheram on April 7, the site has posted a host of daily celebrity messages from stars including England Cricket Captain Joe Root, TV personalities Dame Esther Rantzen, Ricky Tomlinson and Claire Sweeney and Merseyside musicians Gary Christian and Ian Prowse.

There are even films of the late Sir Ken Dodd’s widow, Lady Anne, playing the piano; Tony Blair’s former Communications Director, Alastair Campbell, playing the bagpipes from his bathroom with his own special tribute to the NHS, and a singing performance from Mr Lewis.

As well as the celebrity Soapbox, HeathLive has a section where leading musicians can post their music along with a comedy area where HeathLive has linked up with NextUp Comedy, a comedy filming and distribution platform, where stand-up comedians perform online.

There’s also an arts and craft section for children hosted by former Head Teacher Alison Albion, a cookery section and exercise classes posted by The Heath’s Gym including special exercise programmes for the ‘Nifty Fifties’.

In her exclusive message to HeathLive, Dame Esther Rantzen told viewers: “This is Esther Rantzen sending you a selfie video message to wish you much fun, much enjoyment of the brilliant new interactive website.

“I know it is the not the same as meeting each other in the flesh but it’s still an excellent idea, and I’m sure that pretty soon we will, as The Queen and Vera Lynn say, meet again.  So, this is being sent to you with my love, my best wishes. Stay safe, stay well, and enjoy your new website. Much love Esther.”

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