SSDC Coronavirus Update

Support for businesses

With COVID-19 placing local businesses under unprecedented pressure South Somerset District Council has been urging companies to access the support available to them.

In response to the global pandemic the Government has announced a range of measures designed to help businesses in the UK, including the Small Business Grant fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

We made contact last week with business around our district who we believe are entitled to claim these grants and so far around 600 of the district’s 3000 businesses have been in touch. To make it even easier to access the funding we have set up an online form enabling them to submit their details to us as quickly as possible. To access this site visit: https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/forms/apply-for-something/business-support-grant-application/ – please help spread this message locally as we want to ensure we reach as many people as possible.

Homelessness

See our latest news release on this topic here – https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/news/2020/3/coronavirus-covid-19-how-we-are-helping-those-who-are-homeless-or-at-risk-of-homelessness-through-this-crisis/

If anybody requires help at this time or is at risk of being made homeless, please contact 01935 462462. If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping, please use the StreetLink website, www.streetlink.org.uk.

StreetLink exists to help end rough sleeping by enabling members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with local services that can support them.

If you are concerned about someone over the age of 18 that you have seen rough sleeping, you can use the website to send an alert to StreetLink. The details you provide are sent to SSDC who then act upon the information received. If the person you are concerned about is under 18, please do not contact StreetLink but instead call the police.

Call for carers

Somerset’s local authorities are calling for care workers to come forward and play a vital role in tackling Coronavirus pressures.

To ensure more hospital beds are available for patients with the coronavirus, hospitals, councils and care providers will be working together to increase the number of medically-well people who can be discharged home or to a residential care home. 

This will be happening quickly and safely in the coming days, and many of those leaving hospital will need care support, either at home or in a care home.

Extra rooms have been bought in care homes across the county and at least one redundant care home will be brought back into use. Local authority staff are being retrained to work in care, but more are needed across the care sector.

Somerset’s local authorities are therefore appealing for former care workers to come forward and help further strengthen the system. They are looking for people who have ideally worked in care settings before and have retired or moved into different fields.

These will be paid positions working for care providers, initially Somerset Care, the county’s largest care provider. Refresher training and support will be provided.

The following roles are needed:

  • Care home workers who can assist with personal care
  • Nurses who can oversee care plans
  • Domestic support – cleaning and preparing meals
  • Gardeners and property maintenance

Anyone who thinks they may be able to help should call 0300 123 2224.

Debt recovery guidance

We are aware that many of our customers and taxpayers will be experiencing very real difficulties during this uncertain period.

Use this link to get the latest guidance for residents regarding the Hardship Fund, Council Tax Relief, Direct Debits, how to get help with rent payments and more https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/news/2020/3/debt-recovery-guidance-for-covid-19-guidance-for-customers/

South Somerset District Council wellbeing hub

As previously reported, Westland’s Entertainment Venue is established as the SSDC Wellbeing Hub for South Somerset to support those being “shielded” who have been identified as high risk due to underlying health conditions, and others that our vulnerable in our area.

A team of officers (with support from Yeovil Town Council) are establishing a food warehouse, customer booking system and home delivery service for our shielded and most vulnerable residents.

We anticipate further guidance on how to access support from this hub and how it will operate moving forward will be issued before the end of the week and we will ensure you are provided with the latest information regarding this as soon as it is available.

Crematorium

Revised Government guidance was issued on Tuesday which means we have had to close the grounds of the Crematorium to the public. Funerals are still taking place and further information is available here – https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/news/2020/3/crematorium-takes-difficult-decision-to-restrict-access-during-covid-19-pandemic/

This has not been an easy decision for anyone concerned and we greatly sympathise with any family that has been affected. We have to take all necessary measures to ensure this facility, one of only a few in the region and operated by a small, highly trained team, can remain operational.

Cremations can now take place on Saturdays and are available to the funeral directors in an effort to help ease the likelihood of future demand.

LATEST UPDATES:

Please continue to follow our Your Council page on our website for updates – https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/your-council

Important messages are also being shared on our social media channels, primarily Facebook and Twitter. Please feel free to share these post through your own channels.

WHAT IS THE LATEST ADVICE?

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading

Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.

You can only leave your home:

  • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
  • to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
  • for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary

What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

Continue to stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home. Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Advice for people at high risk

If you’re at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, there are extra things you should do to avoid catching it. These include:

  • not leaving your home – you should not go out to do shopping, visit friends or family, or attend any gatherings
  • avoiding close contact with other people in your home as much as possible

Read the full advice on protecting yourself if you’re at high risk from coronavirus on GOV.UK.

Anyone at high risk should have already been contacted by the NHS

FURTHER GUIDANCE:

How can you avoid catching or spreading coronavirus?

Do

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don’t

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

KEY INFORMATION AND LINKS:

SSDC updates on Coronavirus – www.southsomerset.gov.uk/your-council/

Please visit the Government’s website for the latest information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) here – https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

If you need guidance from the NHS, visit https://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

If you are a business in need of support, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

or the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s dedicated page – https://www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/covid-19-guidance-for-business/

SCC updates on Coronavirus (including Somerset Waste Partnership) – https://www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus/

LGA guidance including the role of councillors during the pandemic – https://www.local.gov.uk/covid-19-outbreak-councillor-guidance

Remember, Stay at home

Only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work; stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people; wash your hands as soon as you get home; anyone can spread the virus.

Full guidance on staying at home and away from others

Contact communications@southsomerset.gov.uk if you need further support.

Corona Helpers – Spark Somerset

At this time of uncertainty, one thing we do know is that right now, it’s more important than ever to come together to support our communities, and that there are lots of amazing people in Somerset who want to help.


To make this a little easier, we’ve launched Corona Helpers, a free online platform on which individuals can pledge their support, and organisations and groups can let people know what they are doing and how to get involved.

If your group is coordinating community support in response to COVID-19, you can use Corona Helpers to promote your work and recruit and manage new volunteers.

Sign up at https://www.corona-helpers.co.uk/

We’ve also published a COVID-19 page on our website, where we’ll share the latest information, useful resources and best practice guidance. If you’ve recently set up a COVID-19 support group or are thinking of doing so, then there are some things you’ll need to consider which are included on this page. Visit www.sparksomerset.org.uk/covid-19.

Finally, we also wanted to let you know that we’re following government guidelines and have taken the decision to avoid all non-essential contact and travel – this means that Spark HQ is temporarily closed and we will be unable to attend meetings in person. We are, however, still very much available to support our communities. If you need any help, please give us a call on 01460 202970 or email support@sparksomerset.org.uk.

Stay safe and well,

The Spark Somerset team

Briefing from Leader of Somerset County Council

From the desk of David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset county Council.

BRIEFING SHEET FOR PARISH AND TOWN COUNCILS

DECEMBER 2019

Winter Health: Residents are asked to look out for those neighbours friends and family that may need help this winter including the vulnerable and elderly. Help can be in many forms but in particular making sure that heating does not drop below 18C, stocks of medication are up to date and giving some support with shopping and daily chores. NHS Choices provides information on Winter Health www.nhs.uk/winterhealth  but residents should call Somerset County Council Contact Centre if they are concerned about a person or child at risk on 0300 123 2224.

Winter Health 2: There’s still time for a Flu jab ring your GP for further information.

Mindline Health Support over Christmas: Nobody should have to face a Mental Health problem alone, especially during Christmas. Mindline offers an emotional support helpline across Somerset and lines (01823 276 892) are open all year round including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

School Places: For those applying for their first school place, the deadline for applications is 15th January – further details can be found at https://www.somerset.gov.uk/education-and-families/apply-to-start-school/  

Pop-up shop for December: A highly successful retail project in Angel Place, Bridgwater is providing vital work experience for pupils at special schools across the county.  Gaining proper work experience when you’re close to leaving education is vital for any student, and especially so for young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities, and it is sometimes difficult to find. The shop’s Christmas gift stock is created by pupils at Somerset’s special schools, including  ornaments, jams and up-cycled furniture, paintings, cards, sweets and plants. There’s an opportunity to pick up some unique gifts and at the same time help the young people gain skills for life.

Volunteering: Volunteers are urgently needed to help support Somerset children and young people in care have fun, gain confidence, rebuild trust and speak up for them in key meetings. Age and background don’t matter – but commitment and a willingness to connect with children and young people who need independent support are essential.  Two distinct roles are available and training, support and out of pocket expenses are provided. ‘Independent visitors’ act as an adult friend to a child or young person in local authority care. They meet each other regularly – every two to four weeks. It’s a long-term relationship so a commitment of two years is needed. ‘Advocates’ help a child or young person express their views and represent them at meetings about their wellbeing. Further information can be found by visiting www.volunteering.somerset.gov.uk

Domestic Violence: Somerset County Council is backing a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence in a bid to end it. Sixteen Days of action against domestic abuse runs until Monday 10 December. Working with partners SCC wants to raise awareness of domestic abuse in its different forms and highlight local help available. As well as encouraging anyone experiencing domestic abuse to seek help, the campaign also encourages employers, friends and family to be vigilant and ‘look, listen, ask … ask again’ if they have concerns about someone they fear may be in an abusive relationship. www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk has lots of useful information, advice and support. A confidential helpline is also available at 0800 69 49 999.

Connecting Devon and Somerset: A public consultation has been launched by Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) ahead of undertaking a fresh procurement to find contractors to provide superfast broadband. CDS, which is responsible for rolling out broadband across the two counties, is establishing the remaining area where there are no current or credible future plans to deliver Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband infrastructure capable of download speeds of at least 30Mbps. Comments on their proposals need to be submitted by Tuesday 10 December to enquiries@connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk

Working with the NHS: A pioneering pilot scheme to help ease pressures on NHS resources this winter is being spearheaded by Somerset County Council and local NHS partners. The trial will sees the authority base a social worker in the A&E departments at the county’s two major hospitals – Musgrove Park in Taunton and Yeovil District. Some of the people who go to A&E don’t need urgent medical care but go there because they are not sure where else to turn in a crisis. Some of these cases could be better dealt with by social care, and the Social Worker presence will help A&E staff get a better understanding of the support that social care may be able to offer. The Council is also looking to trial having a social worker based at the South Western Ambulance Service control centre to see if this too can relieve some of the winter pressures.

Road Safety: Newly released statistics show there were 971 injury collisions on Somerset’s roads in 2018 – the lowest number ever reported in the county. The number of people killed or seriously injured remained at 154, the same as in 2017 – although the number of road deaths very sadly did increased to 26. In 2018 Somerset Road Safety provided training or advice to over 28,000 members of the public including meeting 5,130 people at public events, training 1,710 motorcyclists, reaching 910 senior drivers through Route 60+ workshops, and teaching over 10,000 school children at various education programmes.

Winter gritting: Somerset’s highways teams are all set for winter – with 23 gritters on standby and 7,000 tonnes of salt ready to roll when temperatures drop. This winter Somerset County Council will be investing an extra £200,000 to grit over 900 miles of road this winter. You can check which roads are included at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/gritting

Library e-Book Service: Thousands of e-Books, e-Audio Books and e-Magazines can be accessed by Somerset residents on their electronic devices completely free of charge. With over 15,000 e-Books to choose from and new titles added regularly. Borrowers can check out as many as ten e-Books at a time, each of which can be borrowed for 21 days. All you need to do is become a member of Somerset Libraries – which is also free!

Finally: A reminder that Somerset County Council, in common with other local authorities remains in the ‘Pre-election period’ otherwise known as ‘Purdah’ until the 13th December and is limited in some of its public announcements and responses.