The County Council's recent appeal for volunteers to help those most in need across Northamptonshire has been warmly received with more than 10,000 people stepping forward to support communities in the first three days. This includes those in local community groups, charities and individuals and this number continues to rise. We have already started to receive requests from vulnerable people who have been unable to get out and buy their food and we have successfully used our volunteers to help them. It’s incredibly heart-warming to see these good Samaritans in action.
The next stage is for us to be able to take requests for help and map them to these volunteers and group safely and quickly. So I’m pleased to now be able to let you know that Northamptonshire’s Community Resilience Service is now fully up and running, and we can now accept calls to register local people who need help at this challenging time.
What follows below is a guide of how this service will work in our county. A flow chart illustrating the process is attached with this briefing. This process reflects the guidance issued by Government and is being co-ordinated by the Community Resilience service within our local LRF (Local Resilience Forum) to support and meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents as we continue through this challenging period.
· Requests for support – Shielding Vulnerable People
This is the group of 1.4m people nationally that the Chief Medical Officer considers to be the most vulnerable due to underlying health conditions. Letters, emails and texts were sent out by Government last week as part of the drive to shield extremely vulnerable people during the COVID-19 outbreak. This communication advised individuals that they were considered vulnerable and that they should remain at home for 12 weeks. They were also advised of the measures they need to take to protect themselves at this time. They could also apply for help with their basic needs including accessing food, getting medication or the need for “social contact”. This group of people are required to register through the established national service by calling 0800 028 8327 or online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable where a questionnaire is used to assess the help needed.
Any requests received for help with medication or food will be coordinated by the Department of Work and Pensions with medicines sourced through a community pharmacy service, and with ambient food parcel deliveries arranged through the national provider and delivered to their doorstep weekly using a national supply chain in most cases. Local Community Resilience Hubs will helped where needed and until the scale and reach of the national service is scaled up.
After the needs assessment, for those identified as extremely vulnerable where social contact is required, requests for this support will filter through to local Community Resilience Hubs.
· Requests for support – local residents not identified by Government
In addition to the extremely vulnerable people identified by Government, there are a large amount of other residents across the UK who are currently in isolation due to them presenting symptoms of Coronavirus, having existing health conditions or other vulnerabilities including their age, disability or circumstances. Where they need assistance these people are also being called upon to register locally for the support they need.
In response to this, a process has been established within Northamptonshire where these people can also register to request the help they need at this time by:
· Calling 0300 126 1000 (option 5)
All local requests for support will be directed through to the Community Resilience Hub which will ensure we know about, and can support everyone who needs help at a local level.
Step two – contact with the vulnerable person
On receipt of requests for support, contact will be made with the person to talk through the details of what help they need. If they don’t have family and friends that can help with food, medication, general assistance or support, this can be given to them through the Community Resilience Hub.
Most people will only need every day things. But where a specialist need or concern is identified our Adults Social Care or Children’s Social Care Triage Teams are in place with trained professionals who can offer the required support. Adults and Children's services are also making contact with all their existing customers to ensure that people are safe. Checks will be carried out in both cases to determine if an existing package of support is already in place, and if so, find out what additional help is needed during this uncertain period of time.
For others needing general assistance, the Community Resilience Hub will coordinate this with local voluntary organisations, community groups and the volunteers that have come forward to help.
Types of support we expect to be requested at a local level are:
· Support with organising and collecting medication
For those not covered by the Shielding Vulnerable People service offered national government we will organise this through our community pharmacy network and get items delivered through local community groups, volunteers and the voluntary organisations who have pledged to help.
· Support with shopping for food and other essential items
For those not getting the weekly food parcels offered through the Shielding Vulnerable People service offered national government we will be able to offer a shopping service and supply through our local community groups, volunteers and voluntary organisations and arrange delivery of this.
· Support with social isolation
This support will be determined by the person’s needs and will be coordinated in conjunction with local community groups, voluntary organisations and volunteers. It will include signposting people to the Samaritans if appropriate, which has been agreed nationally.
· Other support
Response to any other requests not outlined above will be determined by the need identified and organised with local community groups, voluntary organisations and volunteers.
Step three – co-ordinating support
When requests for support come through, and the need identified, the Community Resilience Hub will co-ordinate these in conjunction with Northamptonshire’s District and Borough Councils, mapping the requests for help in an area or street to offers from local community groups, volunteers and voluntary organisations who have pledged their support.
Requests will be allocated on a locality basis to suitably skilled volunteers, depending on what is needed.
As people continue to respond to our volunteer appeal, support is being mapped out across the county to ensure we have enough help in each area and can identify any gaps. We are working closely with our partners across the county’s District and Borough Councils to enable us to deliver the Community Resilience Service. We are also working with supermarkets and logistic companies to get supplied to central points from where we can distribute food and other essentials.
We expect the number of people registering to receive support to grow as this unprecedented situation continues to evolve. With the heartfelt response from our local good Samaritan residents, voluntary organisations and community groups in such a short space of time, I am confident that together, we will be able to help them get through this challenging time and help them get the support they need.
Thank you for all you are doing to support your communities. Please continue to signpost people to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/coronavirus to find out more and register if they want to help, or to call the Council on 0300 126 1000.
This is partnership working at its best. The County Council is working with both organisations we are familiar with, and those individuals and groups across Northamptonshire who are making it their mission to help others. This is a powerful network that will help keep our most vulnerable residents connected, safe and well.
Although the current situation is difficult, a lot of positive and impressive work is coming out of it, showing what we can achieve collectively, and I know this will continue as we move forward in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.