Council confirms continued support to most vulnerable during Covid-19 crisis

Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Communities and  Health

The Government yesterday announced a two stage relaxation of its national shielding programme for clinically extremely vulnerable groups. 

Across the country 2.2 million adults and children have been advised to shield since March. This has meant these people staying inside as much as possible and keeping visits outside to a minimum. Yesterday the Government announced a two-phased reduction in the shielding programme.  From Monday 6 July individuals can start to go outdoors and meet with others, taking care to stick to strict social distancing guidance. From 1 August the measures will be further relaxed to allow people to visit shops and places of worship and to return to work or school. Government food parcels will also stop. The full guidance issued by the Government can be found here.

Following the announcement Buckinghamshire Council has confirmed it will continue to support clinically extremely vulnerable residents who may still need assistance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, helping them to get back to a more normal lifestyle.

In the past three months nearly 18,000 residents in Buckinghamshire have been shielding after being classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Many were able to call on the help of family and friends to support them and many were able to rely on food parcels provided by the Government and delivered directly to people’s homes.  Around a quarter requested council assistance to help with getting essential supplies and other support.

The council set up a network of eight local hubs to support residents who were shielding. Working with local voluntary and community groups across Buckinghamshire, this support includes collecting and delivering prescribed medication, regular check-in phone calls and dealing with ad-hoc requests like transport to medical appointments. It also includes providing emergency food parcels where there is a gap in the government delivery or there is a specific dietary requirement. More recently the hubs have been supporting as many of these residents as possible to take advantage of priority supermarket delivery slots as a means for getting their food.

From 1 August the council will continue to offer support to clinically extremely vulnerable residents in Buckinghamshire who still need it, with the aim of supporting them to re-adjust following the shielding period.

Councillor Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Communities and Health said: “Now that lockdown measures are relaxing for the majority of residents, it is important that we remember that many of our most vulnerable residents still rely on our support and may be anxious about the future.

“Our support hubs have provided a vital lifeline to these people over the past three months. The first wave of Covid-19 may now be over but we all know that the threat of another peak is never far away. So, we want to reassure people that we won’t abandon you. We will continue to provide support if you need it but will work with you to identify ways you can be independent and arrange your own food deliveries and prescription collection. We will also support people who are nervous about stepping outside again and linking them up with organisations and groups that can help and support.” 

Cllr Williams added:“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff who stepped away from their regular roles to work in the hubs, readily taking on any task that was asked of them. We would also not have been able to respond so effectively during this crisis without the invaluable support of our voluntary and community groups who have been working alongside us.”