Presentations and discussions on COVID.
Members received a presentation from Emma Denley (Localism Manager) updating them on the work of the Council’s Covid Support Hubs and the response to the second lockdown across Buckinghamshire.
Emma reminded Members that the Support Hubs were set up to provide help to self-isolating residents, the 20,000 people across Buckinghamshire now classified as ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’ and lastly, economically isolated/vulnerable residents who were struggling to make ends meet.
Those who had been asked to ‘Shield’ in the first lockdown had now been reclassified as ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’ (CEV) and advised to work from home and remain indoors unless for exercise, to attend medical appointments or to meet with members of their support bubble. Those in this category unable to work from home could be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance using the letter they received from the Government (dated 4th November). Children classified as CEV were exempt from attending school during the lockdown. Following the end of the lockdown, those children would return to school and adults to work if possible. They were advised to continue to avoid shops and pharmacies.
People could contact the Support Hub through the Council’s website, the Customer Service Centre (01296 395000) or the Bucks Online Directory (directory.buckinghamshire.gov.uk). The Hub had made 1,400 calls to CEV people and 1,011 calls to Vulnerable Adult Social Care clients. These calls enquired as to the client’s general wellbeing, and ensured that they had access to food, prescriptions/medical treatment or financial help where necessary.
Local supermarkets were better prepared for the lockdown than had previously been the case, and priority supermarket deliveries had replaced weekly Government food parcels. Partnerships with volunteer groups and food banks were also being utilised to supplement deliveries where residents had limited or no internet access. Members were informed that the vast majority of those who had a priority food delivery slot with a supermarket had retained that status throughout the second lockdown. Some grant funding (up to £1000) was available, however most financial aid provision centred around signposting to other sources.
Emma clarified that the relationships that she and her team had developed with other local groups and organisations over the summer had ensured that the risk of duplicated work was kept to a minimum, as various teams focused on contacting different groups. The Hub’s primary clients throughout the second lockdown had been the CEV, and this had been achieved with a far smaller team than during the first lockdown. Anyone who did notice a duplication of work through their work with any external organisation should contact Leone who could pass on the information to Emma for consideration as necessary.
It was also clarified that there was an exit strategy in place for those who had been receiving help when the lockdown ended, and that working in collaboration with the Adult Social Care services would help to mitigate the risks of a culture of dependency developing with the Hub. In this way, it was hoped that clients remained as independent as possible moving forward.
Members thanked Emma for her time and presentation. Those with further questions were encouraged to contact Leone, who would pass them on to Emma following the meeting. A copy of Emma’s presentation containing the figures for those who had sought help from the Support Hub and numbers of CEV people in the Community Board area would be appended to and circulated with the minutes.
Councillor Renshell then invited Jaqueline Austin-Lavery to give a presentation highlighting the ongoing Bucks Online Directory service (directory.buckinghamshire.gov.uk).
It was stressed that while the service was a useful tool for those seeking help from local groups or services during the current health crisis, it also served a wider purpose for those new to the area wanting to discover nearby activities, or who have a hobby and wished to seek other enthusiasts. Those seeking COVID-19 related support were advised to tick the ‘Support with Health and Wellbeing’ box in addition to the ‘Coronavirus’ box for a more holistic range of available services.
Jaqueline clarified that those wanting to find more in-depth information concerning services than was possible on the website should direct enquiries via email to: email@example.com with the word ‘BOD’ in the subject header. This would enable an in-depth search against their data to be conducted, the results of which could be compiled into a spreadsheet and returned to the user. This could include searches for services with particular insurance cover, or DBS checks.
Anybody with contact information for a local group, organisation or service not currently listed on the directory was encouraged to pass on the information to Jaqueline, who could get in contact to explore their future inclusion on the directory.
Finally, the Chairman handed over to Leone to lead a brief interactive session via SLIDO to invite the views of attendees in response to three questions:
1. How has Coronavirus Impacted you or your Local Community?
A wide range of responses were received. Social isolation was the most common response, though a large number of responses indicated very little personal impact. Bereavement was the third most popular response received. Other responses highlighted the impact on young families not yet as financially stable as others, and the development of children while schools were closed.
2. What is the Biggest Immediate Issue in your Local Community or for you in terms of Supporting your Residents or Responding to Coronavirus?
Access to food/food parcels was the single common response, though others highlighted the financially vulnerable such as the elderly, nursing homes and small local businesses. Sustaining community morale and socialising safely was also highlighted as a key way to support local communities.
3. What Projects or ideas could we focus on for Recovery or for the Community in General in 2021?
Vaccination access and distribution was highlighted as one of the first priorities for the Community Board. Supporting the recovery of local businesses and rejuvenating the local economy through facilitating joint ventures between complimentary businesses was also suggested as well as projects to support the unemployed. Other ideas included encouraging people to continue helping neighbours and the vulnerable as an avenue to preserving the greater sense of community fostered over the past year.
Members were thanked for their contributions and informed that their responses would be collated and considered to inform future Meeting items and discussions as the Community Board looked to best position itself to respond to the second lockdown and the recovery period following the pandemic.
- Community Meeting Support Hub update 26 Nov Winslow, item 9. PDF 695 KB
- BOD Presentation to Community Boards, item 9. PDF 447 KB