Here is the 13th weekly newsletter sent on behalf of The Collaborative Communities Covid-19 Board. From this week, this newsletter will be sent fortnightly. This does not mean that our work is done – far from it – or that we have less to tell you, but the immediate need for us to communicate with you each week has lessened a little. Please look out for the next newsletter on Thursday July 16th.
This week the newsletter covers:
- Advice for those who are shielding
- Clarity in National and Suffolk Lockdown Plans and Infection Numbers
- A focus on Foodbanks and Volunteers
- Furloughed staff volunteer to help health and community teams
Advice to those who are shielding: At the end of July, Government help, including food parcels and medication deliveries, will be stopped to those who are shielding. Those affected will have already received a letter from Government outlining the changes. If you, or someone you know, has concerns about the end of these Government services and needs to make arrangements after this time please call the Home, But Not Alone phoneline who will be able to offer guidance and support.
Clarity on National and Suffolk Lockdown Plans and Infection Numbers: There has been a lot in the news this week about plans for local lockdowns, especially with the situation in Leicester, and some untruths about a ‘spike’ in Suffolk’s numbers.
Firstly, there has been no spike in Suffolk. The list published in a national newspaper on Tuesday, which listed 36 places where local lockdowns might be necessary, was based on a comparison of the number of cases last week (20-26 June) compared to the number the week before (13-19 June). In Suffolk, there was an increase of 1 case in this period, from 2 cases to 3 cases, equivalent to an increase of 50%.
Today the Government will publish COVID-19 pillar 2 testing data. Up until this point the data that has been published at a local level has been pillar 1 data which is based on the amount of people who have been tested via NHS and Public Health England laboratories. Pillar 2 tests are tests which have been processed in commercial laboratories, and this data will include tests conducted in wider community settings, such as the Copdock site in Ipswich. Not all cases identified will be new, there will be cases that have been identified since pillar 2 testing has been up and running. Suffolk remains an area with low cumulative case rates and unlike areas such as Leicester, there is no current evidence to suggest weekly cases are increasing, and cumulative population case rates remain statistically significantly lower than England.
On Tuesday this week Suffolk published it’s Local Outbreak Control Plan. This plan will be triggered where there are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks in any setting or community within the county. It outlines how complex cases will be managed in more than 30 high-risk places, locations and communities, in particular care homes and schools. It also outlines local testing capacity, use of data to identify and proactively manage outbreaks, and contact tracing in complex settings. You can read the plan and the an executive summary of the plan here.
“Most of us are back at work now so we have changed our timings but we will continue for as long as necessary…..many elderly people are eating well every day and have someone to talk to….that makes it all worthwhile.” Sharon, foodbank volunteer
The COVID-19 crisis has triggered a massive and unprecedented response across Suffolk with thousands of people signing up to volunteer; keen to support vulnerable people within their local communities. This has been truly inspiring and humbling. The pandemic has revealed a greatly increased need for both food and companionship, and fortunately, Suffolk’s volunteers have risen to the challenge.
Community kitchens and foodbanks across Suffolk are reporting greatly increased numbers needing support, and from people who would not traditionally use their services; such as working families and older people who would normally have been resistant to accepting help.
In Needham Market, an elderly man was not managing to feed himself during isolation and his neighbours alerted a local support group who contacted the Stowmarket Foodbank on his behalf. He now receives a daily hot meal from local volunteers and a weekly delivery from the food bank. He had not wanted to bother anyone, but great partnership work from local support groups has meant he is eating well and moreover; he has regular contact with people who care about him.
Hadleigh Foodbank report that they are now supporting 35 families on a regular basis, which is a rise from the regular 10. They also deliver an evening meal to children who are on free school meals and in so doing have identified families needing extra support. Many people were left without income due to a delay in receiving Universal Credit and so sought help. They also support a temporary home that houses domestic abuse victims and supply free meals to a local village twice a week to support the elderly and isolated. In total they deliver 270 meals a week.
However, supporting people with food during the current crisis has revealed an even deeper need and Hadleigh Foodbank recently supported a lady who is suffering deep emotional anxiety. Having to self -isolate because of health problems; she had begun to struggle with flashbacks to episodes of childhood trauma and without the focus of work and social interaction; she was becoming dependent on alcohol which had been a problem previously for her. Hadleigh Foodbank have engaged the service of an experienced counsellor who has been working with her to move forwards and this regular engagement has made a big difference and she is now feeling more positive and able to look towards the future. This counsellor is also helping another client from the food bank who suffering depression because he felt he could no longer support his family due to COVID-19. The food bank have supplied him with weekly food and toiletries but moreover, they have equipped him with the emotional support to move forward.
Furloughed staff volunteer to help health and community teams: Furloughed staff from Abbeycroft Leisure in west Suffolk have been providing help and support to community health and care teams during the pandemic. Working with team members, volunteers have helped with a range of tasks for the teams, including putting together dressing packs, record packs, helping out with reception where premises closed due to COVID 19, and delivering PPE and equipment. Links have been made with Home But Not Alone so that there is no duplication of tasks and the services can work together to support people in the best way for them. One team manager said: “From our perspective, it has been really brilliant , the staff have appreciated the help, and I think it will develop further as time goes on. Please pass on my sincere thanks, and those of the Team”.
Thank you for all you are doing to help those in our communities. Your support is making a huge difference to people’s lives.
We’ll speak again on July 16th!
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