Helping Hand For 'Shielded' Residents
A new service established to protect South Tyneside's most at risk residents during the coronavirus crisis is already providing essential help to those people with no support network.
The Council's COVID-19 support hub has already contacted residents in the borough who have been identified as extremely vulnerable under the first tranche of government data and have registered for additional help during self-isolation.
The hub was established last week in response to a government call to 'shield' 1.5 million high risk people for at least 12 weeks. These people will have received a letter or a text from NHS England. The hub will also provide support to any vulnerable resident that does not have an alternative support network to help them.
Operating from Hebburn Central, the hub has already taken more than 600 calls and delivered 200 food parcels to residents who live alone and have no family or friends to support them.
The rigorous shielding measures include minimising all interaction and avoiding any face to face contact to prevent being exposed to the virus.
Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "Residents who have been identified as being in the extremely vulnerable category have serious underlying health conditions which put them at a very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, so it is vital that they follow shielding advice to protect themselves.
"For people who live alone, this may be extremely challenging on both a practical and emotional level. The hub has been set up to provide help and solidarity for those residents with no support network.
"I'd like to stress that this service is for people who have no other means of getting essentials such as food, medical supplies or who are struggling with their wellbeing.
"At this stage no one knows how long this situation is going to continue for, so we need to ensure that this service is sustainable and targeted at those who need really need it.
"Meanwhile, everyone else can do their bit to protect themselves and others and halt the spread of this virus by staying at home."
Council staff have been redeployed to coordinate help and working closely with the Borough's network of voluntary sector organisations and their community volunteers.
The support also includes regular welfare checks by the Council as well as signposting to financial or welfare support, befriending services, mental health and third sector support.
Those who are isolated in South Tyneside without any means of support, whether or not they have received an NHS letter can call the Covid 19 Support Hub on (0191) 424 7575. The service operates from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 1pm, on Saturdays and Sundays.
If you've had a letter from NHS England identifying you as extremely vulnerable, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to register for the support that you need.
For further information about the local support available visit South Tyneside Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus or follow our social media channels.