Support Plans in Place for Shielding Residents
Plans are being made to help protect extremely vulnerable South Tyneside residents with a new model of support in the event of another lockdown.
South Tyneside Council was quick to establish its Covid-19 Support Hub in March in response to the Government's announcement that around 2.2million of the UK's most vulnerable people should be 'shielded' from coronavirus due to underlying health conditions putting them at higher risk.
Over that time, the Council has been working with its voluntary sector partners to ensure vital support for those residents who were identified as being extremely vulnerable and living on their own without any other means of assistance.
With the national shielding programme being stood down to coincide with vulnerable people no longer advised to shield from 1 August, the Council has made alternative arrangements for those who may still need help.
Plans are also being put in place to support shielding residents if a local lockdown - or another national lockdown - is imposed in the future.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council and Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, said: "Throughout the crisis we have worked closely with our partners to make sure no vulnerable person has been left behind. Our shielding hub has reached out to thousands of residents, making more than 5,000 deliveries of food and medicine as well as carrying out wellbeing checks.
"With residents coming out of the shielding programme, many will be starting to regain a degree of normality, resuming their daily activities and getting back to how they managed their food shopping before. We appreciate this will be an anxious time after a very difficult few months.
"But rest assured, we are continuing to work with the voluntary sector to ensure those few residents who still require support continue to get the help they need when the national scheme comes to an end.
"We are also putting measures in place to reinstate support for shielding residents in the event of another national lockdown, or if restrictions are imposed locally. It is vitally important that our most vulnerable residents who may need to shield or self-isolate again, and don't have any other means of help, are once again supported during times of crisis."
The closure of library and leisure services when the country went into lockdown meant that Council staff could be redeployed to help with the Covid-19 response.
The Covid-19 hub saw more than 150 employees including librarians, lifeguards, sports development officers and a range of other support staff, come together to provide vital support to isolating residents.
- Received and supported more than 21,400 requests for assistance;
- Delivered over 5,000 food parcels to shielding residents;
- Made around 885 deliveries of medication; and
- Made nearly 300 referrals to volunteers.
Councillor Dixon said: "Our employees have been outstanding in very challenging circumstances. For many it has been a real cultural change, but they have certainly risen to the challenge. They, along with our voluntary sector partners, have worked tirelessly to help keep people safe, support our communities and ensure our vulnerable residents have been protected from the virus.
"They have done incredibly, and the feedback received has been extremely positive."
Future support will be available for those who need to self-isolate or shield again and have no other means of support to get basic supplies.
This will range from signposting and providing advice for those who are identified though the NHS Test and Trace programme to supporting clinically extremely vulnerable people in the event of a localised outbreak in the community, or a Borough-wide or national lockdown, in which case the Covid-19 Support Hub would be stood back up.
The South Tyneside Covid-19 Support Hub helpline number (0191) 424 7575 will remain unchanged.
For further information about South Tyneside Council's Covid-19 response visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus