Council hub set up to provide access to food and medicines for those in need during pandemic
- Credit: Archant
The leader of Huntingdonshire District Council has issued a statement in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and announced a hub is being set up to support those in need.
Ryan Fuller told The Hunts Post: “With the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are facing the most challenging circumstances that many people will have ever known or ever expected as we see unprecedented changes to the way we live our lives. However, the remarkable way that our communities have already responded to some of these challenges, with volunteers, community groups and parish councils co-ordinating informal support for those in need makes me immensely proud of our Huntingdonshire community and what we can achieve when we pull together.
“For its part, I want to reassure you that Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) is working hard to make sure that whatever happens, we continue to provide essential services and deliver vital assistance to our residents and businesses. Working with Government, Cambridgeshire County Council, the health service and other partners we have plans in place to ensure that we can deliver support to our most vulnerable residents.
“The Government has announced that those on the list of 1.5m people who are classed as more vulnerable due to existing health conditions will get additional help. In response, we are setting up a local hub to co-ordinate access to food, medicines and other supplies in the first instance and if you need help, we will make sure you get it. You can register for this support at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
“We are trying to maintain usual council services as far as we can and most services are operating as usual; except for play areas, leisure centres and non-food markets. However, as things develop, we may not be able to do everything that we usually do, and some services may be slower. We will take decisions as necessary to prioritise essential front-line services. Please bear with us. The County Council has now closed its household waste recycling centres, but this does not impact on our bin collections – so there is no need to telephone HDC to check.
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“Council workers such as those collecting your bins and keeping the streets clean often do not receive the recognition that they deserve but at times like these please remember that they are also on the front-line, cannot protect themselves by working from home and deserve our respect.
“It’s very easy to criticise via social media, especially it seems when people are not aware of why things are being done in a certain way. Please accept though that as a council we are working around the clock to manage the situation, keep people as safe as possible, and ensure that businesses and residents facing hardship as a result of what’s happening are getting the help they need. At all times we are following the latest government and public health advice, and officers and I are regularly speaking directly with Ministers and civil servants.
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“To allow us to focus our efforts on those most in need please consider how you choose to interact with the council at this time. Please think about whether you really need to call us; our customer service centre is dealing with a huge spike in demand, but our website is constantly being updated with the latest information and signposting information. We need to free our phone lines for those people who may not have access to the internet. We are also keeping our social media feeds up to date with the latest information as advice changes.
“Along with partners we have launched the www.wearehuntingdonshire.org portal – an online community hub where people can be signposted to localised support and information on the current situation.
To help minimise the impact of coronavirus locally we need everybody to follow NHS and government guidance: - work from home where you can, only undertake essential travel (to buy food supplies etc.), social distancing, and self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms.
“At the time of writing, our parks, open spaces and food markets are still open, but notices have been put up reminding people to adhere to the government advice on social distancing - keeping at least two metres away from the next person. Current public health advice is that food markets and parks can remain open as long as people use them responsibly – adhering to social distancing rules is so important
“The situation is changing rapidly as the virus spreads and further impacts business as usual, but I assure you that HDC will respond quickly to do whatever we can for our community. At the time of writing I have just instructed officers to suspend car parking charges in all HDC car parks across the district. If people are following government guidance, then those now using our car parks should mainly be keyworkers undertaking jobs that they can’t do from home and those shopping for food and other essential supplies. We will therefore do what we can to support them.
“I have also asked council officers to prepare a series of further measures that HDC can take to help our local residents and businesses. I hope to enact these measures this week and will provide another update as soon as possible. But for now, I want to say thank you for your efforts and for your patience – and to make our message absolutely clear: we will do everything we can to support our incredible community and to ensure those that need it the most are receiving help.
Cllr Ryan Fuller
Huntingdonshire District Council