Worcestershire County Council has launched #Here2Help to provide support to people who are having to self-isolate and/or have additional needs due to the coronavirus outbreak and cannot get help and support from friends, family or neighbours. It is also for individuals and organisations who are offering to help. It aims to complement the national scheme to support those individuals extremely vulnerable to becoming severely ill from Covid-19 (described as ‘shielded’) and the NHS Volunteer Responders initiative.
Individuals can request help via the Here2Help website. A phone number has been set up for those who can’t access the internet. The number is 01905 768053. This can be used Monday to Sunday between 8am and 8pm.
Individuals and organisations can register offers of support via the Here2Help website too.
#Here2Help is all about supporting our communities. Since its launch it has already supported 925 people and received over 1,000 offers of help. Please help raise awareness of the Here2Help campaign widely across your parish/town in any way you can. Two of the easiest ways to do this are to add a link from the home page of your website and add the #Here2Help logo to your social media profile. You can do this on Facebook, or by using Twibbon to edit your Twitter profile.
Payments to businesses
As of 8 April 2020, we have paid over £6million in grants to more than 500 eligible businesses across the district to support them through the coronavirus outbreak. We estimate more than 1,000 businesses are yet to register.
Payments began on Friday 3 April and businesses that have successfully registered are being asked to check their bank accounts regularly but to allow a few days for the money to come through.
Businesses eligible for either the £10,000 or £25,000 grant need to register quickly and, most importantly, accurately here. In addition to the grant, there is other help available from the Government from businesses, and this can all be found here.
Help with Council Tax
A £500 million hardship fund has been created to help vulnerable people pay their Council Tax. Visit our Benefits and Council Tax page for more information.
We advise people in financial hardship as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak to consider making a claim for Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Council Tax Support. More information is available on the Government’s coronavirus and claiming benefits page.
Support for community groups and charities
There is a range of funding support available to community groups and charities who are affected by the Covid-19 outbreak themselves or who are working to support vulnerable people impacted by Covid-19. A number of these are outlined below. Please share this with relevant groups in your parish/town and visit our Support for community groups and charities page for more information.
West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner has launched a dedicated fund for parish and town councils across West Mercia to apply for money to purchase essential items that will allow them to continue providing support to those that need it most during the current Covid-19 outbreak. Find out more and apply for funding here.
The Arts Council is offering an emergency funding support package totalling £160 million for individuals and organisations working in the cultural sector. Applications will open soon. It has also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently in receipt of its funding. Find out more here.
Barclays Bank has launched a £100 million Covid-19 Community Aid Package for charities working to support vulnerable people impacted by Covid-19. Find out more here.
National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50million Heritage Emergency Fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The fund will address immediate pressures over the next three to six months for those organisations most in need. Find out more here.
Persimmon Building Futures is a £1million scheme to support children and young people aged 18 and under in sport, health and education. Find out more here.
Persimmon Community Champions has £64,000 to give away each month. From April 2020 all funding will go directly to organisations that are supporting the over-70s. There’s a simple application process. Find out more here.
Sport England is making up to £195 million of funding available to help sport and physical activity through the Covid-19 crisis. Find out more here.
Impact on district council services
We have been able to maintain all our waste and recycling collection services with the exception of bulky waste collections. We are advising residents not to carry out house clearances etc. unless they can store their waste as we are unable to take side waste, as it would overwhelm the collection service and the Household Recycling Centres are closed. If there are any disruptions to the waste and recycling service we will publish them on our website. Please encourage residents to sign up to our email alerts service www.wychavon.gov.uk/email-alerts so they can receive updates directly to their inbox.
Our Customer Contact Centres in Droitwich, Evesham and Pershore are closed. People can still use our online services or contact us by phone.
Our housing, revenues and benefits phone lines are extremely busy so there may be a delay in answering or returning a call. Please bear with us.
All children’s play areas are closed. Our parks remain open but users must follow social distancing rules.
Our public toilets and Droitwich, Evesham and Pershore Leisure Centres are closed.
All of our Pay and Display car parks are now free to use. NHS Staff and health care staff can also park for free in any on-street parking bay, for any length of time, while carrying out essential duties, as long as they are displaying evidence of employment. See our parking page for more information.
A full list of our affected services is available on the coronavirus update pages on our website.
Increase in organised waste crime
The Environment Agency (EA) has seen an increase in Organised Crime Groups involved in waste crime due to a perceived lack of EA presence. If anyone sees vehicles containing waste entering a non-permitted site (such as a farmer’s field or an illegal site run by known Organised Crime Groups) they can contact the EA on 03708 506 506.
Unauthorised waste collections
West Midlands Region Environment Agency staff have been receiving reports of unauthorised waste collections taking place where household waste, in black plastic bin bags, directly from the pavement area outside of dwellings. It is suspected that the individuals offering their services are doing so through social media platforms such as ‘Facebook’ marketplace and are offering their services for a fee that would be unsustainable if they were a legitimately authorised household waste collector. The end destination of the waste is unknown. People are being encouraged to identify waste on the street awaiting unlawful collection. Please ask residents not to use these potentially unlawful services.
New meetings regulations
The Government has made two sets of regulations under the Coronavirus Act 2020. The first set enables all local authority meetings before 7 May 2021 to be held remotely and removes the requirement for the annual meeting this year. The second set postpones until 6 May 2021 local by-elections and other polls, either scheduled or which would otherwise arise before that date.
Under the new meeting regulations all notices for parish and town council public meetings must be published on the parish/town website or relevant community website and where that isn’t possible on the district council website.
We have already emailed further details about these regulations to all clerks.
GOV.UK WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Service
A new GOV.UK WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Service has now been launched. The purpose of this product is to combat the spread of misinformation propagated through WhatsApp on an Official Government channel. To use the service, members of the public simply add +44 7860 064422 to their contacts and send a WhatsApp message saying “Hi”. Please promote this service to your residents.
Coronavirus status checker
A new Coronavirus Status Checker to help the NHS coordinate its response and build up additional data on the coronavirus outbreak was launched at the weekend. People with potential coronavirus symptoms are now being asked to complete the status checker and answer a short series of questions which will tell the NHS about their experience. Status Checker users are clearly told at the beginning and the end of the survey that it is not a triage or clinical advice tool, and that they should visit 111 online for medical advice about their symptoms. The survey can be accessed on the NHS website.
And finally …..
You can keep up to date with all our public messaging by following our social media accounts or checking the coronavirus update page on our website.
If you need to contact us at this time most of our staff are working remotely and can be contacted by email or on their usual phone numbers.
You may also find these links useful:
- Coronavirus update from Public Health England
- Coronavirus Stay at Home Protect the NHS Save Lives leaflet – delivered to UK households
- Look after yourself whilst staying at home from Worcestershire Public Health – mental wellbeing campaign