Here is your fortnightly newsletter sent on behalf of The Collaborative Communities Covid-19 Board.
This week the newsletter covers:
- Important changes to the Home, But Not Alone phoneline
- Volunteering case study
- Keeping children online
Important Changes to Home, But Not Alone: There are some changes to the support on offer through the Home But Not Alone phoneline.
In line with changes to Government guidance to those who have been shielding, from 5pm on July 31st the Home But Not Alone phoneline will no longer provide:
- Free emergency food deliveries
- Medicine deliveries
Shielded residents in Suffolk have been written to by Government and are aware of these changes.
For the short-term, the team at Home, But Not Alone will still be able to offer help and advice to those most vulnerable in our communities and signpost to neighbourhood or countywide support.
As the Government continue to lift restrictions, especially for those who are shielding, and the levels of COVID-19 continue to fall, we are reviewing the level of support on offer in Suffolk. This may mean that further changes may be announced to the support offered by Home, But Not Alone in the future. However, these services are designed to be reintroduced and stood up once again if there is a significant local outbreak. We will keep you updated on further changes.
Thank you for your support of the Home, But Not Alone service. We are incredibly proud of the fact we have been able to work together to help thousands of people during the most acute challenges of lockdown. This help has been made possible by the hundreds of community and neighbourhood groups in Suffolk and a significant number of volunteers. Thank you Suffolk!
Volunteer Case Study: Iain Mason
At the height of lockdown, there were hundreds of people across Suffolk who gave up their time to help those in need. Whether this was chatting to people over the phone, delivering books or neighbourly errands, the community response was outstanding.
Iain Mason was one of those people. He volunteered at Ipswich Hospital for three or four evenings a week. We asked Iain a few questions about his time volunteering.
What was your volunteer role? My role was to answer calls on the ESNEFT Staff COVID Helpline where staff could report sickness related absence and get basic advice on COVID related queries. It involved recording the employee absence, advising them on isolation and return to work procedures.
Why did you decide to volunteer? The COVID experience highlighted how stretched some of our resources are so it was a trigger to get involved and do something to help. When I volunteered I really had no idea, what but I felt I should be doing something!
How has your volunteering benefited the organisation/public? The Helpdesk was a new service for the hospital and needed setting up rapidly. Bringing in volunteers to supplement permanent staff allowed that to happen. It gave staff access to advice and services and took a big burden off other key staff to allow them to be more directly involved in patient support at a critical time.
Is this the first time you volunteered? This is the first formal volunteering I have been involved with. I’ve helped out with odd one-off things before, but nothing like this
Can you summarise your experience of volunteering during COVID? It was a good experience. It was something quite different from my day job managing a technical team for a large IT and telecoms organisation. It very quickly became something I looked forward to doing - knowing it was making a small difference to the overall situation. The ESNEFT team were appreciative of the contribution of the volunteers so, personally, it was a rewarding experience.
Any particular highlights? The volunteer team quickly established a great team spirit. Meeting people from all walks of life - it was a diverse team. Feeling we were helping - the NHS staff that called in were grateful for the advice and support which definitely made it worthwhile for me.
Any lessons learnt? I should do more volunteering - to that end I am now in the process of getting registered as a formal NHS volunteer for ESNEFT!
Keeping children online: Under the DfE Covid Technology scheme, Suffolk County Council Children’s Services have now allocated 700 laptops, 50 tablets and 100 4G hotspots to children with social workers and care leavers who do not have adequate access to technology. These devices are empowering disadvantaged children to continue their learning and stay connected with services, friends and family in this difficult time where being in touch has never been more important. One child upon receiving a laptop said, “Thank you so much for this, I can’t wait to use it to catch up with my classes, study for my exams, and make my mum proud!”
There is a lot of work being done with partners across Suffolk to ensure that our plans in the event of a local outbreak are well thought through, detailed and robust. This involves planning for the most complex settings such as care homes, schools, places of work and public spaces. These plans can be viewed here. In order to prevent a local outbreak, the advice still stands – please continue to wash your hands, keep your distance, keep working from home if you can and wear a face covering when you’re in a shop or on public transport. We must continue to Stick with it Suffolk.
With best wishes,
Chrissie Geeson (Head of Localities and Partnerships, Suffolk County Council)
Chair of the Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board
The Board is made up of: Community Action Suffolk, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, Church of England in Suffolk, East Suffolk Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, Ministry of Defence, National Probation Service – Norfolk & Suffolk, Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Suffolk Association of Local Councils, Suffolk Community Foundation, Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Voluntary Organisations Group, West Suffolk CCG, West Suffolk Council