Community Reassurance update from Shropshire Council – Oct 2020

Isolating payments

https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/benefits/benefits-news/test-and-trace-support-payments-update-9-october/

If people are on a low income, they may be entitled to a test and trace support payment of £500 if they:

1.       Have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace service, either because they’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and

2.       Are employed or self-employed, and

3.       Are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, and

4.       Are currently receiving universal credit, working tax credit, income-based employment and support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, housing benefit and/or pension credit.

Welfare Support and Benefits

Please visit https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/information-for-the-public/your-rights-and-benefits/ for more information about additional financial support. The government have relaxed the rules for some benefits to help with the effect of coronavirus. Shropshire Council is offering residents whose employment or income have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunity to delay payment of council tax for 2 months .If you need to claim universal credit because of coronavirus there is useful information to help you on the Understanding universal credit website.

Additionally, we currently have an emergency assistance fund. Applications are open to anyone who has been financially affected by coronavirus and is finding it hard to meet their essential outgoings as a result. If you, or someone you know, is having difficulty meeting outgoings, or there is risk to your home, call us on 0345 678 9078 or 03456789028. 

Shropshire Larder

As the recession deepens, more people are losing their jobs and facing hardship. It is vital that people in Shropshire know where to get help. The Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance has created resources for people and organizations in Shropshire to find advice and support:  

1. Shropshire Larder (shropshirelarder.org.uk– is the most comprehensive directory of services for people living in Shropshire on a low budget. It has information on how to access a foodbank or community food project, and how to eat well on a budget. It also covers how to get support with benefits, housing, and debt.  

2. Please help us make sure this info is reaching everyone who needs it. 

  • Share their graphic or print it as a poster – we have attached a graphic which we would be very grateful if you could share through your networks – social media, in print, newsletters, e-mail lists. 
  • Follow them on social media – please follow and share  
  • Facebook: @ShropshireLarder and @ShropFoodPov 
  • Twitter: @ShropLarder and @ShropFoodPov  

3. Sign up to their newsletter – keep up to date on the situation and the support available. To subscribe click here 

Scams

We shared some comms last week around test and trace scams – https://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/10/coronavirus-warning-over-test-and-trace-scam/

The image below reiterates these key points:

Don't be scammed by bogus 'test and trace' callers - Bury Council

Shielding

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

With this guidance in place, we are contacting Clinically Extremely Vulnerable residents to ensure they are supported, more options may be introduced as we move into the winter period.

Step Up Shropshire

For those of you who wish to contribute to our video showing how you are Stepping Up for Shropshire, entries can be sent to the following:

Staying safe in the workplace

Please see the web link below, and the attached poster, for some simple advice and guidance on how to protect from the Coronavirus whilst in the workplace.

https://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/10/coronavirus-staying-safe-in-the-workplace/

And finally..

Shropshire Council praises voluntary and community sector’s work during pandemic

https://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/10/coronavirus-response-praised/

Councillor Gwilym Butler, cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, said:

“I would like to take the opportunity to recognise and congratulate the voluntary and community sector, including the collective support from Shropshire VCS Assembly, and town and parish councils, including the work of Shropshire Association of Local Councils, in their response to Covid-19. I recognise how fortunate we are locally with the resilience of many of our communities. The Community and Rural Strategy will be important in working to endorse and enhance that resilience as we move forward.”

Covid-19 Helpline and on-line information

For non-medical support and enquires call direct Covid-19 Helpline 0345 6789028  or email customerfirst@shropshire.gov.uk. On the Shropshire Council website, there is a wide range of information available to help you support people. Find the full range of information here: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/information-for-the-public/. This includes the three directories on: food provision, community support and community social networks. Please check that your support group’s details are correctly recorded on the relevant directories. Please email me as soon as possible if you would like changes to be made.

Community Reassurance Update from Shropshire Council – October 2020

The following is an update from Shropshire Council:

As the pandemic continues, we find ourselves continually adapting and innovating in order to manage the situation, always mindful of the uncertainty ahead. Since the lockdown lifted, our businesses and organisations have gone to great lengths to provide Covid-secure measures for the community, yet the infection rates are sadly rising once again.

We had set out in the previous guidance that the 7-day infection rates of 15-20 per 100,000 are considered an early warning signal, and rates of more than 20 per 100,000 are likely to trigger visiting restrictions. Our area has now reached over 20 cases per 100,000. For more detailed information about your area of Shropshire, please visit the following websites:

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=47574f7a6e454dc6a42c5f6912ed7076

There is understandable fatigue, fear and anxiety at the prospect of further lockdown restrictions, but at this time we must step-up, repeat and refresh the crucial public health messages and urge a renewed vigilance amongst our friends, families and organisations.  

In order to renew our efforts, Shropshire Council have launched a new campaign. Step-Up Shropshire aims to encouraging everyone who lives, works and plays in our county to do their bit. You can help to promote this by sharing our social media posts and posters

We are also developing a video where we plan to film people talking about how and why they are ‘Stepping up for Shropshire’, and we would like to invite all our community groups to join in. If you’re interested in contributing towards this then please email CommunityReassurance@shropshire.gov.uk

Along with this campaign, our Community Reassurance Team have been visiting Shropshire’s towns to provide guidance and advice to residents and businesses.

So far, we have had a gloriously sunny day in Oswestry, a freezing day in Shrewsbury, a wet day in Bridgnorth and fortunately a very clement day in Whitchurch last Friday.

Warning over test and trace scam  

We have been made aware of a new telephone scam whereby callers claiming to be from the NHS Test and Trace service are asking for payment for tests. Those being called are advised that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus and are then told they must purchase a test over the phone. For clarity:

The NHS Test and Trace Service will

·         Call from 0300 013 5000 

·         Send text messages from ‘NHS’ 

·         Ask people to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website  

·         Ask for full name and date of birth to confirm identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating 

·         Ask about the Coronavirus symptoms 

·         Ask people to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone they have had close contact with in the two days prior to symptoms starting (as with your own details these will be held in strict confidence and will be kept and used only in line with data protection laws) 

 The NHS Test and Trace service will NOT:   

·         Ask you for payment 

·         Ask you for details of card or bank account numbers 

·         Ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone 

·         Ask you to provide or fill in social media login details 

·         Ask you to download anything 

·         Ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or         087 

If you have any concerns about trading practices relating to COVID-19 or any other issue, you should please report these to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133. 

Covid-19 Helpline and on-line information

For non-medical support and enquires call direct Covid-19 Helpline 0345 6789028  or email customerfirst@shropshire.gov.uk. On the Shropshire Council website, there is a wide range of information available to help you support people. Find the full range of information here: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/information-for-the-public/. This includes the three directories on: food provision, community support and community social networks. Please check that your support group’s details are correctly recorded on the relevant directories. Please email me as soon as possible if you would like changes to be made.

Community Reassurance update from Shropshire Council

Let’s get straight to the serious news.

We have been warned!

Numbers of positive Covid-19 cases have been on the rise for a few weeks now, and we’ve started to see restrictions coming in to play in some of Shropshire’s neighbouring urban areas such as Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The concerning rise initially seemed like it was affecting only the young but evidence from other countries now shows that infections are not staying just in the younger age groups, but are moving through the age bands.

Yesterday, the Government’s Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Valiance then warned that nationally we could “end up with something like 50 thousand cases in the middle of October per day”. Today the Prime Minister is due to announce further Government restrictions across the whole country.

The announcements are really an expression of concern. It’s not a time to panic. The important thing is to ask – what can we do about it and how can we avoid a further local lockdown in Shropshire?

There is a clear message here that we all have a part to play in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. We all have a role to play by following guidelines about hygiene and keeping safe. It’s always worth repeating:

  • HANDS – wash hands regularly and for 20 seconds,
  • FACE – wear a face covering within indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • SPACE – Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible; or, if not possible, 1 metre with extra precautions in place.
  • ‘The Rule of 6’ – only meet socially in groups of a maximum of six people, indoors or outdoors, unless you are gathering as a ‘household’ or ‘support bubble’ which is larger than 6,
  • Get tested if you have any symptoms. As you know, the symptoms of coronavirus include a high temperature, new continuous cough, and/or a loss or change in your sense of taste and smell.

As many of you will be aware, the Prime Minister laid out new measures yesterday to help combat the spread of Covid-19. These include:

·         Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 22:00 BST 

·         Pubs, bars and restaurants restricted to table service only 

·         People should work from home wherever possible 

·         Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers 

·         Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15 

·         Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused 

·         “Rule of six” now applies to indoor team sports 

·         Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence 

The Prime Minister’s full speech to House of Commons can be found here 

I know that there have been issues around testing highlighted in the media, but the message is still the same – If you have symptoms, isolate immediately and arrange for a test. Tests can be booked for yourself or any member of your household, if they have symptoms. All tests must be booked in advance. You can register by calling NHS Test and Trace on 119 or online.

Be prepared

I have attached a simple ‘self-isolation checklist to this email and you can read a guide to help you prepare yourself for self-isolation through this link http://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/09/coronavirus-be-prepared-in-case-you-need-to-isolate/

Also attached is a poster giving guidance on staying safe while returning to pubs and bars, please share this widely in your local hostelries.

Please check that we have the right information about your community group – NOW!

It’s vital that as the number of cases increase, we are all well prepared. Your community group has been key to supporting people this far, so please, check that Shropshire Council has your group’s full and correct details logged on its interactive web page map https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/information-for-the-public/community-support-services/  Check here, then let me know by return if any details need to change, so we can keep the directory up-to-date for anyone who might need to make contact with your group.

Talking to people in our town centres

The Council’s Community Reassurance Team were out on the ground in Oswestry recently, talking with locals heading into the town’s pubs and bars, and handing out free hand gel while chatting about keeping safe.

We’re in Shrewsbury town centre this Friday 25th September, then in Bridgnorth the following week – Friday 2nd October. Further to these upcoming engagement events, there are plans underway to visit other market towns soon after.  Together we can get the messages about keeping safe out to all citizens in Shropshire.

Bereavement

If families and individuals have lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic they can access free bereavement counselling.

Run by Shropshire Council with support from Samaritans, Severn Hospice, Cruse Bereavement Care and Crane Quality Counselling, the Bereavement Support Service offers one to one personalised counselling for people across the county.

People will be able to talk to a trained professional about how they are feeling and to seek advice. Experts from the charities can also suggest helpful ways to remember and pay tribute to loved ones.

To access the bereavement service, simply call the Shropshire Council COVID-19 Helpline number on 0345 678 9028.

The line is available for anyone with questions or queries or looking for support and guidance. By ringing you can find out about the free and confidential bereavement services available, and you will receive support to arrange an appointment or get in touch directly. 

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and climate change, said:

“Bereavement is a difficult experience under any situation. Some families may not have had the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones before they died, which can be particularly upsetting. Those who experience loss during the pandemic may also be cut off from some of their usual support network. Having someone at the end of the phone to talk to can make a huge difference. You don’t have to deal with this alone.

“We urge anyone feeling sad, lonely, distressed, overwhelmed or unable to cope to pick up the phone. We have ensured that you can access a range of services on a free and confidential basis. We aim to ensure everyone requiring bereavement support and help can access it quickly, easily, in a way and time that suits them.”

Please pass on the messages and continue the excellent work of encouraging people to stay safe and well while looking after friends, family and neighbours.

Community Reassurance Update from Shropshire Council

Let’s all play a part in reducing the spread of coronavirus

As our children are returning to school and more people are venturing into towns and workplaces, the Coronavirus crisis is at a critical stage. We all find ourselves trying to achieve a balance between some form of normal everyday life and protecting ourselves, loved ones, and those in our communities.

It’s to be expected that as people start to step out more frequently and actively socialise, we might see increasing numbers of outbreak spikes across the country and in fact the world. In Shropshire too, we’ve seen a small number of cases recently, generally amongst the younger population who have displayed milder symptoms.

As an example, in the last few days Shropshire Council and Public Health England (PHE) Midlands have been working with key partners to respond to cases of Covid-19 at a residential care home in Dorrington.

The care home is run by Consensus Support Services Limited and offers residential care for adults with a learning disability and complex needs. Consensus Support Services Limited have followed government advice and guidelines and they have been quick to put all necessary health and safety measures in place to help prevent further transmission of the virus.  As such risk to the public and to local businesses is low. Testing for staff and residents has identified 14 positive cases which represents a small number of both staff and residents at Consensus. Everyone who tested positive has been asked to self-isolate for 10 days in line with government guidance and those residents who have tested positive for coronavirus are being supported to self-isolate in their accommodation.

As always, the priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of all residents in our community and the risk to the wider community is very low at this stage. All local businesses are operating as normal and we’ll continue to work with everyone involved to provide health protection advice and guidance.

Local outbreaks such as this are not unexpected during a pandemic, and we have seen a number of cases across the county. As outbreaks arise it’s been important that everyone has pulled together and done their bit to help stop the further spread of the virus. This graph shows some of the small outbreaks that we’ve had recently in Shropshire.

The graph also shows what is called the 7-day rate of positive Covid cases. Simply put, this gives the total number of Covid positive cases in a 7-day period. As areas with larger populations may be expected to have higher numbers of positive cases, calculating the 7-day rate per 100,000 people, gives a level comparison of the infection rate between areas.

So, for example, if the total cases in Shropshire were 20, the rate per 100,000 of the population would be 6.15, whereas if Telford had 20 cases, their rate per 100,000 of the population would be 11.12 because they have a smaller population.

You can see that we are coping well in Shropshire, but the latest outbreak and the small trend of outbreak spikes come as an important reminder. They re-emphasise the fact that we need to stay vigilant. We need to repeat the messages about keeping safe and well to all ages of people in our communities.

It also reminds us that we all have a part to play in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Keeping it simple, this means be vigilant, keep to small groups, socially distance, use hand sanitiser and don’t share the stuff that friends often share without thinking. We can all do our part, however small. I’ve attached a poster to emphasise the point.  Please do share the poster with all those you know.

Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms

Do not leave your 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)
  • a loss or changed sense of smell or taste (anosmia)

Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

You must

  • Stay at home (self-isolate) – do not leave your home or have visitors. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also self-isolate. Read the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection here
  • Get a test – get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, should also get a test if they have symptoms. Testing is offered at different locations around the county. To find out where your nearest test site is, and to book, either go online https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or call 119 if no internet access.

An important new grant has been set up to help Shropshire residents affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) 

Shropshire Council has been allocated a ‘Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Essential Supplies’ to support people who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19. It is really important that we get this money to those residents who have been financially impacted by Covid-19, especially if affected by job losses or financial insecurity. 

If you know of someone who is finding it difficult to pay for some of their essential costs due to COVID-19, or if they have become homeless or are concerned about losing their home, please guide them to call 0345 678 9078.  We’ll help with an application and put people in touch with a specialist adviser.    

Please encourage people affected to apply now as the funding is limited and once spent assistance will no-longer be available from this particular grant.  If you have any queries at all, please call 0345 678 9078. Further information is available on Gov.UK” 

You can find the latest Coronavirus news, developments and guidelines by visiting: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/

And finally, a quick reminder about the Healthwatch survey that we mentioned in our last update. ‘Help improve the experience of anyone leaving hospital’ – this is the aim of a new survey launched by Shropshire Healthwatch. Running from 1st September to 31st October 2020, the survey aims to gather the views and experiences of anyone who has been in hospital and then left in the last 6 months, so that services can be improved during what could be difficult winter months ahead.  Your feedback and comments are invaluable, so help us to learn the important lessons from the pandemic and so improve services to people throughout Shropshire.

You can find the survey here …. https://www.healthwatch.co.uk/tell-us-about-your-experience-leaving-hospital-during-covid-19

Community Reassurance update from Shropshire Council

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks as we’ve started to see some localized outbreaks of Covid-19 across parts of the country. We’ve heard mainly about places like Leicester and the North West, but this trend has been echoed across the whole of the Midlands, the country and likely the world.  

You will have seen that Shropshire got into the national newspapers too, with reports about the Covid-19 outbreak at a caravan site in Craven Arms. I guess we all knew that an outbreak would come at some point, and at this stage in the pandemic we must expect outbreaks as the virus continues to circulate within communities.  

The outbreak at the Long Lane Traveller site in Craven Arms, worried a lot of people and caused great interest, both residents on the site and in the wider community. The good news is that things are now easing, and the majority of residents have either completed or are nearing the end of their self-isolation period. Those residents who had tested positive for coronavirus or are showing symptoms have been asked to self-isolate in line with government guidance.  Testing for the wider community has been in place since 25 July 2020, and no one in the wider Craven Arms community has tested positive so far. 

This successful containment has involved a lot of people. Thank you to all. Staff from across Shropshire council are continuing to work with Public Health England (PHE) Midlands, key partners and all people in the area to contain the outbreak. We are supplying food and essential supplies for those in isolation and officers have been in Craven Arms daily, both onsite and in the town, to offer support to residents, local businesses and the wider community. 

As an additional measure, testing has also been made available across Craven Arms, regardless of whether individuals have COVID-19 symptoms. A test site at Craven Arms Business Park is open every day from 10.30am to 3.30pm and Craven Arms residents can book an appointment to be tested. We are aware that some residents in and around Craven Arms have had some issues in booking their test via NHS 119. We have contacted the NHS with regard to this and been advised that local residents go online to book a test. We will also be offering a further drop-in session over the weekend and we will release further information on our newsroom in the coming days.

The important thing is that such outbreaks do serve as a reminder that the pandemic is still with us and that we cannot get complacent. We have to remain alert to the risks. It also shows that we all have our part to play when it comes to keeping ourselves, friends, loved ones and our communities safe, and there is a wealth of resources and information so that everyone can help pass on the key messages.

A range of posters have been added to the Council website which can be used in your communities and workplace, and contain the most up to date coronavirus public health advice. They include simple messaging around Contact tracing: what it is, privacy reassurance, ‘Enjoy summer safely’ in English, Bulgarian, Polish and Romanian, Face coverings, Know the symptoms, ‘Park open’ in English, Bulgarian, Polish and Romanian and how long to self-isolate. They can be found at this link: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/resources-and-grant-funding-opportunities-for-local-communities/posters-for-use-in-local-communities/

Latest guidelines do seem to change at a rapid pace.  So, it’s worth repeating:

  • Wearing face coverings has become mandatory in supermarkets, shops, indoor shopping centers, banks, building societies and post offices – with museums, cinemas galleries and places of worship set to follow from 8 August. Guidelines and exemptions can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own.  It’s clear from government guidance that face coverings can be beneficial in protecting against the spread of COVID where social distancing is not possible, in enclosed public areas. 
  • People who develop coronavirus symptoms, or test positive, will now be asked to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days. The latest advice from the UK Chief Medical Officer means the period of isolation has been extended by three days from the previous minimum of 7 days. The new advice is in line with World Health Organisation guidance. 

Please be sure to keep up to date as things can change quickly and suddenly. You can find the latest news, developments and guidelines by visiting: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/

Finally, to finish on a lighter note, following the tireless efforts of staff across the Museums service, Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and Shrewsbury Castle, along with the Soldiers of Shropshire Museum, have reopened…and in time for the school summer holidays, so perfect timing! 

Safety measures have been put in place to ensure people can enjoy a relaxing experience at all sites and museums staff are really excited to be able to welcome visitors back. And we nearly forgot to mention… Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery is giving everyone free entry until the autumn, making this a cheap and fun family activity during the holidays, but you must pre-book your tickets so visitor numbers can be monitored.

Keeping up the trend of our museums welcoming back visitors, Acton Scott Historic Working Farm will be reopening on Friday 7 August and can’t wait to welcome people back. Like Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, you must pre-book your tickets, but be quick, the first day has already sold out!

Free central heating for eligible households! 

We may be in the middle of summer, but we’re encouraging people who may be eligible for free first time central heating to apply now, ready for the colder months.  Warmer Homes Shropshire initiative offers grants for eligible households across Shropshire.  

If you or someone you know feel would benefit from this scheme, call our Keep Shropshire Warm Team on 0800 112 3743 or visit online here. The scheme is also open to homeowners, as well as private tenants and their landlords. 

Stay alert and stay safe. If you have any worries at all, please simply call the Shropshire Council Covid-19 direct line on 0345 678 9028.

Community Reassurance update from Shropshire Council

As lockdown eases, we are all tentatively taking steps into what is being called the ‘new normal’. At this time, let’s not forget how important it is to stay and remind ourselves to adhere to guidance on the use of face coverings, hand hygiene and social distancing (don’t forget, that’s 2 metres where possible). To support this, please refer to the revised poster attached, note that this supersedes the version that I shared previously. Furthermore, this press release is a timely reminder to those out socialising this weekend – https://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/07/pubs-social-distance/

Check here for full information https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/ and always remember our direct Covid-19 Helpline, for non-medical support and enquires, email customerfirst@shropshire.gov.uk or call 0345 6789028. If anyone that you know is experiencing financial difficulty related to Covid-19, please pass on the attached flyer which has useful contact details or get them to call theCouncil’sWelfare Support Team on 0345 678 9078. 

Local Outbreak Control Plan

Reinforcing the stay safe message Shropshire has produced its Local Outbreak Control Plan, which sets out the priorities and actions necessary to respond to a Covid outbreak and to prevent outbreaks from happening.

Rachel Robinson, Shropshire Council’s director of public health, summed things up; 

“Shropshire Local Outbreak Control Plan is in place to ensure we are well prepared to effectively contain the coronavirus and reduce its spread in the community. The outbreak plan will evolve and build as we learn.”

“Whilst I am confident our local arrangements are robust and in place to deal with local cases, we continue to rely on everyone to play their part, by maintaining social distancing, washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, and by booking a test if you have any of the symptoms of Covid-19, and by self-isolating. Although we are seeing a drop in cases across Shropshire and the UK as a whole, this is not a time to be complacent. As national restrictions are relaxed it is even more important that everyone plays their part to help protect their families, friends and neighbours from the risk of a local outbreak.”

If you would like to read the full Local Outbreak Control Plan use this link:   https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/local_outbreak_plan

Bereavement Support Service

For anyone who is experiencing and suffering from bereavement and loss during the coronavirus pandemic a new Bereavement Support Service and publications are available. Run by Shropshire Council and community voluntary partners Samaritans, Cruse Bereavement Care, Severn Hospice and Crane Quality Counselling.

If you are seeking help and support, the new confidential bereavement service can be accessed by calling the Shropshire Council COVID-19 Helpline number on 0345 678 9028

Two new publications are available to complement the service: You can get the booklets here: Bereavement and grief during the Covid-19 pandemic:  https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/media/15135/sc-covid-19-grief-support-a5-jun20-final21.pdf

Bereavement practical guide and checklist: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/media/15134/sc-covid-19-checklist-a5-may20-final31.pdf

Survey for Community Groups – we’d like to hear your views

As you know, the pandemic has been a catalyst for an incredible amount of community support with people responding either individually or in groups to help those in their neighbourhood affected by the lockdown restrictions.

As these restrictions ease and life seems to start to get back to ‘normal’, it may be that some of this activity will come to an end because people will go back to work and have less time, or because it will no longer be needed. However, we also anticipate (and hope!) that some groups will want to continue and develop new activity or expand what they are doing and may need some help to do so.

Shropshire Rural Communities Charity (RCC) has created a survey in collaboration with Shropshire Council in order to understand more about what local groups have been doing in response to Covid-19, and to understand what groups feel they would need to develop and continue offering support within their community.

We would also like to understand how groups feel they will be able to support if there should be a local outbreak of the virus in their community. Finally, as we now know that BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) people are likely to be disproportionately affected should they contract Covid, we would value your thoughts on your group’s experiences of working with BAME community members.

As the contact for your group we have sent you a link to the survey. We would be really grateful if you would help us build a picture of what is happening in Shropshire, how community groups are best supported in the future and most importantly, how communities have supported themselves during this time. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete in full. You may not find all questions relevant to your group or organisation – feel free to skip any that you cannot answer. 

Link to the online survey – https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FTDLPFK

Shropshire Council and Shropshire RCC will use the responses to this survey to work with other partner organisations to design support services, activities and action to respond to the recovery efforts following the Coronavirus pandemic. The information you provide will be used to inform decision making and action planning.

This survey is not anonymous. We will be able to identify you from your responses and the information you provide will be attributed to your group or organisation. Please be assured that we will not share your information with any other external third parties outside of the partnership. Your information will be held securely, and if shared it will be shared securely. We comply with data protection laws concerning the protection of personal information, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Your response will be stored and kept in line with Shropshire Council’s Retention Schedule.

If you have any questions about the survey or how the information will be used please contact julia.baron@shropshire-rcc.org.uk  You can read more about our work and how we support communities in Shropshire here: www.shropshire-rcc.org.uk

National Emergencies Trust encourages Black Asian and Minority Ethnic organisations to apply for funding.

The National Emergencies Trust (NET) is encouraging charities and groups who serve the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities to apply for funds.

Research shows that people of BAME background are at a significantly increased risk of coronavirus.

Find out more about funding here: https://vast.org.uk/national-emergencies-trust-encourages-black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-organisations-to-apply-for-funding/

WARMER HOMES – Free central heating now available for eligible households

Good news – free first-time central heating installation is now available for eligible households, thanks to a new grant scheme to help people reduce their heating costs. https://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/07/free-central-heating/

Managed by Shropshire Council, the Warmer Homes Shropshire initiative offers grants for eligible households across Shropshire. The scheme is open to homeowners, as well as private tenants and their landlords.

Grants are available over the next two years to more than 300 households who don’t currently have central heating, many of whom rely on expensive and inefficient heating systems such as night storage heaters or portable electric heating. If a property needs to be connected to the gas supply to install a central heating system, this will also be covered by the scheme. Installing new gas central heating systems could save a household as much as £350 per year, along with the £4,500 cost of a brand-new heating system.

The team at Keep Shropshire Warm are available on 0800 112 3743 and can discuss the scheme in more detail, help residents apply and provide advice on any energy topic, big or small. If you are in a rural area and don’t have central heating, the team could still be able to help. Please encourage people to get in touch now.

Free central heating now available for eligible households

Free first time central heating installation is now available for eligible households, thanks to a new grant scheme to help people reduce their heating costs.

Managed by Shropshire Council, the Warmer Homes Shropshire initiative, launched in May 2020, offers grants for eligible households across Shropshire. The scheme is open to homeowners, as well as private tenants and their landlords.Warmer Homes Shropshire Programme

Warmer Homes Shropshire Programme

Grants are available over the next two years to more than 300 households who don’t currently have central heating, many of whom rely on expensive and inefficient heating systems such as night storage heaters or portable electric heating. If a property needs to be connected to the gas supply to install a central heating system, this will also be covered by the scheme.

Installing new gas central heating systems could save a household as much as £350 per year, along with the £4,500 cost of a brand new heating system.Warmer Homes Shropshire

Warmer Homes Shropshire

Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said:-

“Warmer Homes Shropshire provides much needed support and advice to householders over the next two years, helping residents stay warm and safe in their homes. It is fantastic to see partners coming together across the county, working to tackle the challenge of affordable warmth. Shropshire Council is committed to helping people afford the energy they need, and reduce the health impacts of cold homes. This project is a welcome step forward to helping us to achieve this.”

Jeremy Nesbitt, Managing Director of Affordable Warmth Solutions, said:-

“We’re delighted to be providing funding to Shropshire Council through the Warm Homes Fund programme. We are delighted to be working with the partnership to provide solutions to the challenges associated with homes living in fuel poverty.”

Keep Shropshire Warm

Keep Shropshire Warm

More than 16,000 households in Shropshire are believed to be in or at risk of fuel poverty, meaning they struggle to heat their home and stay warm affordably.

In addition to the grant, the council’s Keep Shropshire Warm scheme can offer a range of energy advice to help residents make their homes more efficient, cheaper and easier to heat, including to households in rural areas, where gas central heating may not be an option.

Oliver Rothwell, Project Manager at Keep Shropshire Warm, said:

“This funding allows us to reach out to many more households in Shropshire. Not only are we able to help to install first time heating for those that qualify, we can assist many more households with a range of energy advice and support over the phone and online. I’d encourage anyone who thinks we could help to get in touch – and for residents to think of any friends or family members who could benefit from the scheme.”

Working in partnership with Age UK Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Citizens Advice Shropshire, residents will also be supported to access benefit advice and support and maximise their income.

For more information and to apply visit http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/warmer-homes-shropshire or call 0333 202 4481.

The team at Keep Shropshire Warm are available on 0800 112 3743 and can discuss the scheme in more detail, help residents apply and provide advice on any energy topic, big or small. If you are in a rural area and don’t have central heating, the team could still be able to help.

Surveying and installation of central heating during COVID-19.

Further information

To help bring down the cost of heating bills for fuel poor and vulnerable households Shropshire Council, along with Herefordshire Council, have teamed up with several local charities and the energy supplier E.ON to launch the Warmer Homes programme. Under the scheme in Shropshire, eligible households could benefit from free first time central heating and gas connections.

The new scheme is funded by the £150m Warm Homes Fund, which has been established by National Grid and community interest company Affordable Warmth Solutions, who administer the fund on behalf of National Grid to support local authorities to address some of the issues affecting fuel poor households.

Keep informed and sign up to our Newsroom updates

Shropshire Council wants to keep you as up to date and informed as possible, about the coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis and all our news on services, from the council and its partners.

Please click here to sign up for Newsroom updates. Please do encourage your family and friends to sign up too.

Community Reassurance Update from Shropshire Council

Easing the lockdown in England

From July 4th

  • Two metre social distancing replaced with ‘1 metre plus’ 
  • Indoor gatherings of two households allowed, with social distancing
  • Places of worship, libraries, pubs, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, museums, galleries, bingo halls, hair salons & barbers can re-open
  • Outdoor gyms can re-open but indoor gyms remain closed
  • Hotels, B&Bs, holiday homes, campsites & caravan parks can re-open if Covid-secure
  • Theatres and concert halls can re-open but cannot stage live performances

From July 6th people who are shielded can:

  • Meet up to six other people outside, with social distancing
  • Create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household

From August 1st Shielding to come to an end. People who have been affected can visit shops, travel, and return to Covid-secure workplaces

As these dates approach quickly, here’s a quick reminder of some of the options that the council and its partners have in place to support your work. Talk to us at any time about how we can best help you support local people. 

Covid-19 Helpline and on-line information

For non-medical support and enquires call direct Covid-19 Helpline 0345 6789028  or email customerfirst@shropshire.gov.uk. On the Shropshire Council website, there is a wide range of information available to help you support people. Find the full range of information here: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/information-for-the-public/. This includes the three directories on: food provision, community support and community social networks.Please check that your support group’s details are correctly recorded on the relevant directories. Please email me as soon as possible if you would like changes to be made.

Test and Trace – outbreak update

You may have seen information in the press relating to Covid cases at the ABP plant in the north of Shropshire – https://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/06/coronavirus-apb-food/

I want to assure you that the cases referred to in the north of Shropshire are mainly historical, meaning that they have happened since the start of the pandemic, and are not active cases. Shropshire Council are working closely with Public Health England and current close contacts will be notified through track and trace programme, to ensure that all measures to stop the community spread of Covid 19 are in place.  We ask people to continue to adhere to government guidance on social distancing and hand hygiene. Please see the poster attached which has been developed to promote these key messages. Please let me know if you have any comments on this resource and if you require it in any adapted formats e.g. easy read or other languages.

Getting involved with Shropshire’s Social Prescribing Service

Social Prescribing is a non-medical programme that supports people to improve their health and wellbeing with community support.

A Social Prescribing Advisor helps clients to understand their health and wellbeing needs and supports them in setting realistic goals and developing an action plan to achieve these. They enable people to access support and services in their own community by signposting or direct referral to local groups and activities, they are then able to monitor progress.

Social Prescribing is for people aged 18 years and over and is for anyone who would benefit from additional support to help and motivate them to take action to improve their health and wellbeing. People it can support, maybe:

  • Feeling worried or anxious
  • Feeling lonely or socially isolated
  • Living with a long-term condition
  • Wanting to make changes to their lifestyle
  • Caring for someone

At the moment, we are also keen to support people who would benefit from regular and on-going support to cope with their stress, concerns or anxieties caused by social isolation and Covid-19 or who may require more time and support from a Social Prescribing Advisor to work out how their practical needs will be met during social distancing.

Social Prescribing is a priority work programme for Shropshire and nationally a key component of Universal Personalised Care and the NHS Long Term Plan. 

Your organisation or group can get involved too

  • Become listed in a Local Directory used by the Social Prescribing Advisors so they can signpost clients to your group and activities.  This Directory is hosted by Qube and available on their website, so it is accessible to all.
  • Sign-up to become a Social Prescribing intervention, that Social Prescribing clients can be referred to.  This involves providing details of your activities and completing a Quality Assurance checklist and working more closely with us.
  • Join one of the Community Connector networks across the county to network and share with other groups and organisations.

Information and support on getting involved in Social Prescribing is available from members of the Social Prescribing team.  Please get in touch with Tracy Donovan (Tel 01743 254403 tracy.donovan@shropshire.gov.uk ) who will link you to the appropriate member of the team for your area.

Shropshire Libraries offer so much for old and young

  • Shropshire Libraries Youtube Channel – for Empathy Day Storytimes for children, Books Aloud, Memory Corner (for those living with Dementia)
  • Shropshire Summer Reads Escape into a good read with Shropshire Libraries this summer and support Shropshire’s fabulous indie bookshops at the same time! Simply sign up here and read and rate 4 books of your choice. Until libraries reopen, you can choose from our e-library or feel free to make your own choices
  • Shropshire Libraries – Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge 2020 (ages 4-11 yrs) The Summer Reading Challenge for youngsters is moving online this year!

To sign up, children should go to summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/. They will need the email address and permission of a parent or carer to sign up. They then set their own reading goal and get reading! (including e-audio, graphic novels and non-fiction). Activities and rewards are unlocked each time a book is finished. Once a child reaches their reading goal they can download and print a certificate.

Keep an eye out for virtual library events and activities on our Youtube Channel or twitter feed @ShropLibraries such as lego clubs, craft sessions and online story times.

  • Arts Award with Shropshire Libraries For children aged 5-11. Get a qualification over the summer. Simply complete an online portfolio from home and earn a certificate from Trinity College London. We are excited to offer Arts Award at both Discover and Explore levels. For more information email us: artsaward@shropshire.gov.uk 

What Summer activities for kids have you got planned this year?

Here’s a call out to local groups to let us know about summer activity for kids. Have you got plans for the children in your community? Let us know and we can help publicise.

Coronavirus diaries – from despair to pleasant surprise 

And finally, I’d like to finish with a positive observation from Ric, one of our Community Reassurance Team (CRT). Ric is a theatre technician who was redeployed within the Council, as his area of work was closed as per Government regulations. He joined the CRT and has been working in his local community. His comment below is one small salute to the efforts of everyone in local communities throughout Shropshire. He said: “Working with the CRT has allowed me to move from a despairing start to the lockdown, through building a new set of skills to being pleasantly surprised by how resilient our communities are. I started the year flying a magic carpet and dancing in an elephant costume, and yesterday completed a course in psychological first aid – adapt and survive, keep bouncing forward!” 

If you want to find more information about staying positive and resilient, visit our website – https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/information-for-the-public/ 

Guidance for using the Play Area – Covid-19

The Play Area in Fitzgwarine Drive will re-open from Monday 6th July. Parents / Guardians should supervise children at all times when using the equipment and you use these facilities at your own risk.

These facilities are NOT sanitised.

You must maintain social distancing from others when entering, waiting, using equipment or leaving the Play Area.

Wash your hands before you enter the play area and when you get home and if you can, bring with you hand sanitiser.

Public Rights Notice – Unaudited 2019/20 Accounts

WHITTINGTON PARISH COUNCIL

NOTICE OF PUBLIC RIGHTS AND PUBLICATION OF UNAUDITED ANNUAL GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY RETURN

ACCOUNTS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2020

Copies of the Annual Return can be found on the Finance page.

Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 Sections 25, 26 and 27

The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/234)

The Accounts and Audit (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/404)

NOTICE
  1. Date of announcement: Friday 12th June 2020 (a)
2. Each year the smaller authority’s Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) needs to be reviewed by an external auditor appointed by Smaller Authorities’ Audit Appointments Ltd.  The unaudited AGAR has been published with this notice. As it has yet to be reviewed by the appointed auditor, it is subject to change as a result of that review. Any person interested has the right to inspect and make copies of the accounting records for the financial year to which the audit relates and all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers, receipts and other documents relating to those records must be made available for inspection by any person interested. For the year ended 31 March 2020, these documents will be available on reasonable notice by application to:   (b)   Amy Jones, Parish Clerk, Hawthorn Cottage, Porthywaen, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 8LX E: clerk@whittingtonpc.com commencing on
(c) Monday 15 June 2020 and
ending on (d) Friday 24 July 2020
3. Local government electors and their representatives also have:   The opportunity to question the appointed auditor about the accounting records; andThe right to make an objection which concerns a matter in respect of which the appointed auditor could either make a public interest report or apply to the court for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful. Written notice of an objection must first be given to the auditor and a copy sent to the smaller authority.   The appointed auditor can be contacted at the address in paragraph 4 below for this purpose between the above dates only.  
4. The smaller authority’s AGAR is subject to review by the appointed auditor under the provisions of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 and the NAO’s Code of Audit Practice 2015.  The appointed auditor is:   PKF Littlejohn LLP (Ref: SBA Team) 15 Westferry Circus Canary Wharf London E14 4HD (sba@pkf-littlejohn.com)  
5. This announcement is made by (e) Amy Jones  (Parish Clerk and RFO)


LOCAL AUTHORITY ACCOUNTS: A SUMMARY OF YOUR RIGHTS

Please note that this summary applies to all relevant smaller authorities, including local councils, internal drainage boards and ‘other’ smaller authorities.

The basic position

The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (the Act) governs the work of auditors appointed to smaller authorities. This summary explains the provisions contained in Sections 26 and 27 of the Act. The Act, the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 and the Accounts and Audit (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 also cover the duties, responsibilities and rights of smaller authorities, other organisations and the public concerning the accounts being audited.

As a local elector, or an interested person, you have certain legal rights in respect of the accounting records of smaller authorities. As an interested person you can inspect accounting records and related documents. If you are a local government elector for the area to which the accounts relate you can also ask questions about the accounts and object to them. You do not have to pay directly for exercising your rights. However, any resulting costs incurred by the smaller authority form part of its running costs. Therefore, indirectly, local residents pay for the cost of you exercising your rights through their council tax.

The right to inspect the accounting records

Any interested person can inspect the accounting records, which includes but is not limited to local electors. You can inspect the accounting records for the financial year to which the audit relates and all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers, receipts and other documents relating to those records. You can copy all, or part, of these records or documents. Your inspection must be about the accounts, or relate to an item in the accounts. You cannot, for example, inspect or copy documents unrelated to the accounts, or that include personal information (Section 26 (6) – (10) of the Act explains what is meant by personal information). You cannot inspect information which is protected by commercial confidentiality. This is information which would prejudice commercial confidentiality if it was released to the public and there is not, set against this, a very strong reason in the public interest why it should nevertheless be disclosed.

When smaller authorities have finished preparing accounts for the financial year and approved them, they must publish them (including on a website). There must be a 30 working day period, called the ‘period for the exercise of public rights’, during which you can exercise your statutory right to inspect the accounting records. Smaller authorities must tell the public, including advertising this on their website, that the accounting records and related documents are available to inspect. By arrangement you will then have 30 working days to inspect and make copies of the accounting records. You may have to pay a copying charge. Legislative changes have been made as a result of the restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus for the 2019/20 reporting year which mean that there is no requirement for a common period for public rights.  The period for the exercise of public rights must however commence on or before 1 September 2020. The advertisement must set out the dates of the period for the exercise of public rights, how you can communicate to the smaller authority that you wish to inspect the accounting records and related documents, the name and address of the auditor, and the relevant legislation that governs the inspection of accounts and objections.

The right to ask the auditor questions about the accounting records

You should first ask your smaller authority about the accounting records, since they hold all the details. If you are a local elector, your right to ask questions of the external auditor is enshrined in law. However, while the auditor will answer your questions where possible, they are not always obliged to do so. For example, the question might be better answered by another organisation, require investigation beyond the auditor’s remit, or involve disproportionate cost (which is borne by the local taxpayer). Give your smaller authority the opportunity first to explain anything in the accounting records that you are unsure about. If you are not satisfied with their explanation, you can question the external auditor about the accounting records.

The law limits the time available for you formally to ask questions. This must be done in the period for the exercise of public rights, so let the external auditor know your concern as soon as possible. The advertisement or notice that tells you the accounting records are available to inspect will also give the period for the exercise of public rights during which you may ask the auditor questions, which here means formally asking questions under the Act. You can ask someone to represent you when asking the external auditor questions.

Before you ask the external auditor any questions, inspect the accounting records fully, so you know what they contain. Please remember that you cannot formally ask questions, under the Act, after the end of the period for the exercise of public rights. You may ask your smaller authority other questions about their accounts for any year, at any time. But these are not questions under the Act.

You can ask the external auditor questions about an item in the accounting records for the financial year being audited. However, your right to ask the external auditor questions is limited. The external auditor can only answer ‘what’ questions, not ‘why’ questions. The external auditor cannot answer questions about policies, finances, procedures or anything else unless it is directly relevant to an item in the accounting records. Remember that your questions must always be about facts, not opinions. To avoid misunderstanding, we recommend that you always put your questions in writing.

The right to make objections at audit

You have inspected the accounting records and asked your questions of the smaller authority. Now you may wish to object to the accounts on the basis that an item in them is in your view unlawful or there are matters of wider concern arising from the smaller authority’s finances. A local government elector can ask the external auditor to apply to the High Court for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful, or to issue a report on matters which are in the public interest. You must tell the external auditor which specific item in the accounts you object to and why you think the item is unlawful, or why you think that a public interest report should be made about it. You must provide the external auditor with the evidence you have to support your objection. Disagreeing with income or spending does not make it unlawful. To object to the accounts you must write to the external auditor stating you want to make an objection, including the information and evidence below and you must send a copy to the smaller authority. The notice must include:

  • confirmation that you are an elector in the smaller authority’s area;
  • why you are objecting to the accounts and the facts on which you rely;
  • details of any item in the accounts that you think is unlawful; and
  • details of any matter about which you think the external auditor should make a public interest report.

Other than it must be in writing, there is no set format for objecting. You can only ask the external auditor to act within the powers available under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

A final word

You may not use this ‘right to object’ to make a personal complaint or claim against your smaller authority.  You should take such complaints to your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau, local Law Centre or to your solicitor. Smaller authorities, and so local taxpayers, meet the costs of dealing with questions and objections.  In deciding whether to take your objection forward, one of a series of factors the auditor must take into account is the cost that will be involved, they will only continue with the objection if it is in the public interest to do so. They may also decide not to consider an objection if they think that it is frivolous or vexatious, or if it repeats an objection already considered. If you appeal to the courts against an auditor’s decision not to apply to the courts for a declaration that an item of account is unlawful, you will have to pay for the action yourself.

For more detailed guidance on public rights and the special powers of auditors, copies of the publication Local authority accounts: A guide to your rights are available from the NAO website.  If you wish to contact your authority’s appointed external auditor please write to the address in paragraph 4 of the Notice of Public Rights and Publication of Unaudited Annual Governance & Accountability Return.