SOMERSET COUNTY COUNCIL COVID-19 UPDATE – 5TH APRIL 2020
This week Linda Piggott of the Ilminster Club participated in the first of what will now be twice weekly updates, held by video conference to keep everyone informed of developments. The tone of the hour-long briefing was one of positivity and mutual collective support to find ways of accessing maximum resources and sharing of information to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in this area.
• As of Fri. 3rd April there had been 1,000 cases in the South West, and a total of 126 deaths in the area (9 of which were in Somerset).
• Government legislation has now been passed to enable virtual meetings to take place. It is expected that scheduled SCC meetings will re-commence in May.
• Concern has been raised about the inability of residents and family members to be able to attend funerals of loved ones. Both Taunton and Yeovil crematoriums have the facility to webcam services if required.
• Because Covid-19 has been declared a ‘Major Incident’ a local resilience forum has been set up to coordinate activity.
• Most SCC staff are now working from home, with many working 7 days per week at this time. Those working in child protection are on 24-hour standby, fully aware of the impact on families that this crisis is likely to have and are ready to handle the situation.
• Routine adult social care visits are not being made at present, and where necessary partner organisations are being asked to take on this commitment for urgent cases.
• Easter Sunday is when the number of cases across the UK is expected to reach its peak, with the SW seeing its peak approx. two weeks later, towards the end of April. It is vital that in the interim we all continue to take the necessary precautions to ensure our safety and that of others around us.
• As far as Easter is concerned the message for Somerset is please, please do NOT come to visit our county. The county is closed for Easter.
• It is intended that schools remain open over the Easter holiday period to continue to provide necessary childcare for key workers.
• A new waste/recycling contract is now in place but the intended increase in recycling activity is on hold for the present time.
• SCC are taking on infection control duties for reportable diseases to help to ease the burden on the NHS.
• A number of staff have been re-deployed to other duties, including 50 to the Registration Service to support staff responsible for registering deaths, which can now be done online.
• Two former care homes have been re-opened (Yeovil, Wellington) to provide 100+ beds to enable recovering patients to be moved from hospital to free up beds. 60 volunteers have come forward to staff the properties, including hotel staff, who will provide meals.
• PPE is in extremely short supply across the county and the resilience forum is working hard to source the necessary supplies, including 1200 rolls of plastic aprons. County Hall is to be used as a distribution centre, with support from the volunteer army.
• Military assistance is being sought for assistance with body storage.
• 1.5 million vulnerable people have been identified as requiring support nationally, and support cells have been set up. Both district and county councils are stepping in to provide any necessary intervention for residents and businesses while details of the national response to coordinate support is awaited.
• Across the county 5 warehouses are ready for action, with 1,000 food parcels ready to go.
• £15.68m has been received from central government towards putting in place the measures required to deal with Covid-19. There is likely to be a shortfall of around £1m and MPs are lobbying for an increase in funds.
• There is an awareness of the need to support business recovery in the aftermath of Covid-19 and planning for that is underway,
• Several local town and parish councils have put aside money to help those in need, and various schemes are in place to enable people to shop who may not have ready access to money. ‘Square Point of Sale’ is being used in some areas to facilitate this.
What we as a District are doing.
Chrissie Bailey email@example.com is logging what our clubs are doing so please let her know how you are meeting and what projects you are undertaking. Or of course you could post your projects on Rotary Showcase and log effort in Rotary Club Central – all available from your MyRotary account.
Whilst we are busy helping our local communities, spare a thought for other poor parts of the world such as Nepal, Syria and Yemen where there are no local resources.
This is becoming increasingly an issue as people try to cope with the lock down environment. Please help Mind, Samaritans and Citizens Advice Bureaux if you can.
Online website training.
Whilst many of us are at home most of the time, Chris Sweeney thought it would be a good opportunity to provide some online website training to fellow club and district administrators,
He proposes to run a series of 30-minute sessions, at 2pm Monday-Friday, for the week commencing 13th April. Members need not attend all sessions but pick and choose relevant topics. He would like to receive suggestions for topics from Rotarians over the next week. Please email him direct (firstname.lastname@example.org) with details of topics you’d like covered. The sessions will take place using Zoom software.
On a positive note.
Members are now using modern technology. One of my personal objectives this year was to “Update Rotary” and many clubs are now using modern technology and social media to communicate and hold meeting.
Meetings held via Zoom or WhatsApp mean there are no costs involved for members and people from all over the world can join in or be the speaker. One club recently had the RI President Mark Maloney as speaker. Rotary truly does Connect the World. The “saved” meal costs can then be used to support local food banks and other local charities that are in much demand in the current circumstances.
Best wishes and stay safe. Dennis