City Council Covid-19 update 03.04.20

Please see below the latest update from Brighton & Hove City Council. If you have any queries, please don’t hestitate to contact us.

In this briefing

  • Latest update
  • Service changes
  • Do not visit Brighton & Hove
  • Homeless accomodation update
  • Housing benefit
  • Food update
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Childcare provision during the Easter Holidays
  • GCSE, AS and A-Level awarding Summer 2020
  •  BTN BikeShare free for NHS workers
  • Surge capacity and field hospitals
  • How to request help online if you need it
  • Government advice leaflet

Latest update

At this evening’s Downing Street address, Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP said it is vitally important to follow government advice to prevent the spread of the virus, stating these are not requests but instructions.

He said: “The only way to protect yourselves and others now is to stay at home… We’re set for a warm weekend in some parts of the country, but the disease is still spreading. And we absolutely cannot afford to relax the social distancing measures that we have in place, we cannot relax our discipline now. If we do, people will die”.

The Health secretary also announced that the capacity in the NHS is being expanded. He said people also need to stay at home to give the time needed to build more capacity in the NHS. 

The emphasis continues to be on the need to stay at home and maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. These actions slow the opportunities for the virus to be passed from person to person and this saves lives.

Everyone should:

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Full guidance on staying at home and away from others

Anyone can spread the virus.

Stay home and save lives.

Service changes

Information on council service changes due to coronavirus (COVID-19) are on our website.

Do not visit Brighton & Hove

Today Cllr Nancy Platts, leader of the council, repeated the call for visitors to stay away from the city during the pandemic.

Open spaces remain open for residents to use on their daily exercise. It is essential to follow social distancing guidance to reduce the spread of the virus.

There are also ways to enjoy the city from a distance as a virtual visitor. We can all do this to celebrate Brighton & Hove will staying safe at home whenever possible.

Read more on our website

Homeless accommodation update

All rough sleepers who need a place to stay safe from coronavirus now have somewhere to go. Today a second hotel has been arranged providing a further 51 separate rooms with en suite facilities.

Together with the spaces already arranged at the YHA, this now provides enough places for all in need. We are making sure appropriate provision is made for anyone who has symptoms to be able to self isolate. The accommodation available also means those without symptoms have somewhere where they can follow the stay at home and social distancing guidelines to keep them as safe as possible away from the virus. Everyone in the accommodation is being given food and support at this time. Again, food and support will be provided.

Our outreach service, St Mungo’s and Arch Healthcare are working together to make sure everyone being given a room is checked for symptoms before accommodation is allocated.

Outreach workers are out now letting people know the rooms are available and food will be provided. We are doing all we can to encourage people to take up this offer, but we cannot make anyone stay in a hotel.

Cllr Gill Williams, chair of housing committee, said: “I’m very grateful to everyone who has worked tirelessly to help make this accommodation available to protect some of our most vulnerable residents. We now can make sure everyone in need can be inside this weekend. We will also be offering ongoing support over the weeks and months ahead.”

If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping, contact Streetlink with the details and the information will be passed on to an outreach worker who will make sure the person concerned knows there is somewhere safe to stay. You can contact StreetLink online at www.streetlink.org.uk or by calling 03005 000 914. If you think the person needs urgent medical care or they’re under 18 years of age, you should call 999.

Almost all the rooms being made available have televisions and we’re looking at making sure everyone has access to a television or device that can show broadcast programmes as soon as possible. Local campaign group Galvanise continues to collect donations of kindles, hand held game console or similar to help ease the extreme isolation faced by anyone who is being asked to make this move. Our outreach service, St Mungo’s, will distribute the electronics to people in need over the weeks and months ahead. If you can donate an item, please email hello@galvanisebh.org and a collection will be arranged from you to the St Mungo’s team.

We will continue to work with partners to provide suitable accommodation for all those who are rough sleeping in the city and those who are in shared accommodation who need separate space to stay safe during the pandemic. Additional spaces are being looked into in case more people are in need or we have to change plans at a later point in the pandemic. 

This information is also on our newsroom

Housing benefit

As part of its response to COVID-19, the government announced they’re making welfare benefits changes to support economically vulnerable people and households in the local area.

We’ve updated our Housing Benefits webpages with information on the changes and the financial support for private tenants.

Food update

Today we have created a new page for residents who need support and advice about food, this includes information on how to ask for help.

The new page is a one stop shop for all relevant information and will make it easier to find support or innovative ways to shop and eat.

We also have a call to volunteer, donate surplus food supplies or contribute to the crowdfunding campaign to raise money to support local food banks for our partners at Brighton & Hove Food Partnership.

Councillor Anne Pissaridou has today praised the community, partner organisations and everyone in the council involved with supporting those in need of food during these uncertain times. Read more here.

Councillor Pissaridou explains about the emergency food distribution system that has been set up with the help from our partners at Brighton & Hove Food Partnership. This is reliant on both volunteers and donations to run smoothly. It is a testament to the generosity of the city.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is vital in the council’s response against COVID-19 as well as continuing to provide other crucial services.

We know there’s widespread concern about whether there is enough PPE for all workers who need it according to the revised PPE guidance from Public Health England which were published Thursday 2 April.

The council is actively working to ensure that our staff who need PPE are properly protected and continue to have access to supplies. The safety and protection of our staff, many who are working with our most vulnerable residents, is our number one priority.

A new national scheme by private sector company Clipper will be distributing national PPE stock to Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care providers; places like residential care homes. We’re told that deliveries will begin from Tuesday 7 April and care providers have been asked to register via email.

We’re also procuring additional PPE stock and have established a new PPE distribution team by deploying staff from elsewhere in the council. They’re based in Hove Town Hall and a new triaging team is also now being put in place to handle requests for stock.

Please donate your PPE and help support our frontline staff

Alongside orders being made through the national supply chain, we are now also contacting bodies and organisations across the city who might be able to donate their no longer needed and unused PPE.

We have contacted all schools asking for donations of masks, goggles, gloves and aprons and we’ll also be contacting the construction industry to ask for their help.

Businesses like hairdressers and tattooists may also be able to help us. Anyone or any business in the city with PPE, such as fluid resistant masks, latex gloves, protective eye wear, and disposable plastic aprons, can bring their donations to Hove Town Hall from 9am Monday 6 April.  Please leave you donations in the lobby area as the main reception is closed. There will be sign indicating where donations can be left.

Thank you in advance for any suitable equipment you can give and please remember to maintain the 2 metre social distancing guidelines.  We will not be able to accept any homemade equipment.

new section on PPE has been developed on our website to provide information and advice to council staff and stakeholders. This is now being reviewed and updated in line with the changed national guidance, and from next week will feature an FAQ.

Organisations who are concerned about the supply of PPE can contact a national helpline:

The National Supply Disruption line
Telephone: 0800 915 9964Email: supplydisruptionservice@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

Childcare provision during the Easter Holidays

Today is the last day of a most unusual school term. Since Monday 23 March, nurseries, childminders and schools have been providing childcare for children of critical key workers and vulnerable children (such as those with a social worker and children with Education Health and Care Plans).

Most children have not been attending their usual school or childcare for almost two weeks.

In accordance with government guidance, the majority children are being kept at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Childcare will continue for eligible children who need it during the Easter holidays, which run from Monday 6 April until Friday 17 April.

The council’s Family, Children and Learning team has been co-ordinating with providers across the city. All providers have been flexible and done everything possible to care for children who still need to go to schools, nurseries or childminders. The professional and dedicated way in which monumental change has been implemented is widely acknowledged.

About 530 children are currently attending schools. This is 1.7 per cent of the usual school population. Almost all schools have managed to stay open despite pressures on staffing. Where it hasn’t been possible to stay open, local schools have co-operated together to make sure pupils have a place nearby.

There are also 40 early years providers offering care to eligible children and this is about a third of the usual number. All council run nurseries are open and this will continue during the Easter holidays, including one that is usually term time only.

We have researched the level of interest in childcare over the Bank Holiday Easter weekend. Take up of this offer is low but we are ready to respond if anyone eligible for care needs support.

Schools, nurseries and childminders have been contacting families directly about the arrangements available.

Families with queries about their childcare options over the Easter break should speak to their own school, nursery or childminder in the first instance.

Eligible families can contact the Family Information Service if they need help to find childcare for a child of any age over the Easter holidays. 

Families can contact FIS by email: familyinfo@brighton-hove.gov.uk or phone 01273 293545 and leave a message. 

GCSE, AS and A-Level awarding Summer 2020

The Department for Education has today released information for schools, students and parents on how qualifications will be graded and awarded in summer 2020

Results days are expected to be earlier than the original August dates, although details have not been confirmed.

Our Education and Skills team will be looking at this new guidance and working with schools and colleges over the coming days to understand the implications. More information to follow as soon as it is available.

BTN BikeShare free for NHS workers

BTN BikeShare is being made available for free to NHS staff working in Brighton & Hove during the coronavirus pandemic.

Annual memberships, which include 30 minutes of free travel and no unlock fees, are also being offered to care contractor staff working for Brighton & Hove City Council.  These key workers offer support and care to some of the vulnerable people living in the city.

Eligible NHS workers should contact their site travel coordinator for information on how to take up this offer.  Care contractor staff working for Brighton & Hove City Council should contact their company travel coordinator.

Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, Anne Pissaridou said: “I’m pleased we’ve been able to put this offer together for NHS workers during this crucial period.”

“We are living in unprecedented times and it’s vital we support our NHS staff however we can.  This offer will allow them free access to BTN BikeShare at a time when their role has never been so important.

“Being able to extend this offer to home care staff working for the council will also support those helping to care for some of our most vulnerable residents at this difficult time.”

Extra hygiene measures are also being introduced to BTN BikeShare with extra cleaning of bikes and new signage to remind users to wipe down bikes before and after use.

More information about BTN BikeShare can be found on their website.

This update is also available on our newsroom.

Surge capacity and field hospitals

NHS England and military planners at regional level are currently scoping the requirement for additional hospital capacity, over and above that already secured. Currently, no decision has been made on any potential sites in Sussex, but the assessment teams continue to review their best options to meet the expected demand over the coming weeks.

How to request help online if you need it

This is a reminder that extremely vulnerable residents with no other support can now tell us directly if they need help during the coronavirus pandemic by filling in an easy to use form on our website. People can also fill in the form for someone they know who is in this situation and can’t get online themselves.

The form asks for details of who needs help and what support is required. The information is treated in strictest confidence and used to help people as quickly as possible.

The telephone switchboard is running on a reduced service and we ask people not to call the usual number. We encourage everyone who can use the online forms to do so to keep the lines free for those who have no alternative.

Government advice leaflet

The Cabinet Office has today shared a copy of the government advice leaflet being sent in paper form to all UK residents. We’re told it should begin landing on doorsteps from today.

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