Support is being stepped up to protect extremely vulnerable residents in South Tyneside who are at greatest risk from coronavirus and have no other means of help.
Following the announcement of the new Alert Level 5 - 'Stay at Home' national restrictions - people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) are being contacted by the Government with additional guidance on how to protect themselves from coronavirus, particularly in light of the new, more transmissible, strain of the virus.
Under the new measures, as well as being asked to stay at home as much as possible, residents in this group are strongly advised NOT to go into work, shops or pharmacies and not to travel unless the journey is essential. They can still attend NHS appointments and exercise outdoors, but they must take extra care. The new advice applies until mid-February.
Residents affected are once again urged to call on the help of friends, family or neighbours to assist with food shopping or medicines collections wherever possible. Alternatively, they can use online shopping or contact their local pharmacy to arrange delivery of medication.
South Tyneside Council is now writing to affected individuals about the new guidance and local support available. The South Tyneside Covid-19 Community Support Hub remains in place to assist those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and are living on their own without any other support network such as family, friends or neighbours, to help with access to essentials like food and medicines. It is also available for those who are struggling with their wellbeing and need signposting to services.
The Council letter also reinforces the Government's call for high risk residents to make sure they are registered with the National Shielding Support System (NSSS) www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support.
Registering will give them access to priority supermarket delivery slots as well as other wellbeing assistance. Even if help is not needed at this time, it is important they register so that local support can be targeted to those most in need.
People can get help to register with the NSSS by calling the Covid-19 Community Support Hub on 0800 028 2955.Family, friends and neighbours can also register on behalf of a Clinically Extremely Vulnerable person.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "Once again, there has been a national call for people with serious underlying health conditions to stay at home as much as possible and take additional precautions to minimise their exposure to coronavirus, particularly due to the new variant which continues to spread.
"We understand that this will be an incredibly anxious time for those people who live alone and have no other means of support such as family, friends or neighbours to turn to.
"Our Covid-19 Community Support Hub has continued to be available throughout the pandemic, with support stepped up in line with the introduction of further national restrictions.
"We want to reassure those affected that the service is here for them - they are not alone. We have dedicated team of staff redeployed from their usual duties to ensure they get the help they need during times of crisis.
The Council continues to work with voluntary and community organisations to provide targeted support to those who need it in the affected CEV group. Support is tailored to individual needs and includes help with:
- Digital support to register for priority supermarket delivery slots;
- Accessing essential food and basic supplies;
- Additional care for those who live alone and don't have family, friends, neighbours or social care services for support;
- Welfare checks by the Council, if needed;
- Signposting to financial or welfare support, befriending services, mental health and support from voluntary organisations.
Residents who are identified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable may have previously received a letter from the NHS, or their GP, advising them that they are in this group and may have been asked to 'shield' during the first national lockdown.
In South Tyneside, there are more than 7,000 people in this category.
Councillor Dixon added: "It is so important that people in this group take extra care to protect themselves, that they stay home as much as possible and continue to follow the guidance around Hands, Face and Space. Members of the same household or support bubble are also encouraged to be extra vigilant to the risk they may pose to those deemed high risk.
"Family, friends and wider communities continue to play a significant role in supporting each other to stay safe and this is fantastic. However, there are some people being asked to stay home again because of their health, or to self-isolate, who have no support network. It is important that they get in touch if they need us and do not try to do this on their own."
Vulnerable residents, who have no other means of support, can call the Covid-19 Community Support Hub on freephone 0800 028 2955,from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
For further information about South Tyneside Council's response to the coronavirus pandemic, including further details about the Covid-19 Community Support Hub, visit the Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus
Details of the new Tier 5 Alert Level - Stay at Home national restrictions are available on the Government website at www.gov.uk/coronavirus