Dear all,


Not only does the Collaborative Communities Covid-19 Board help those who need additional support and guidance during the pandemic, but it also endeavours to help all of the amazing community, voluntary and neighbourhood groups who are already helping communities in Suffolk. This includes the work of town and parish councils and also our NHS and social care colleagues. We could not do our work without this incredible support – and we thank you all for this immense effort. It is important that we co-ordinate between central and local government including mapping community support and work with the NHS and social care to identify gaps and avoid duplication.


Here is a brief update of the work of the Board this week:


Logistics – food deliveries, transport offers and prescription deliveries: There are currently 18,370 people on the shielding list in Suffolk. These individuals are at a greater risk from the coronavirus and as such may not be able to get basic food supplies because they don’t have a support network or local offer that can help them in their area. Emergency food packages are vital for those people that cannot get food. Since the 2nd April there have been over 175 emergency food parcels sent out to people in need across Suffolk. These have been made in advance of the national food parcel delivery service commencing to those shielding residents that have requested support from central Government. It is separate from the deliveries being made by the comprehensive network of food banks across the county.


We are actively reaching out to everyone on the shielded list to ensure people know that they can turn to the Home, But Not Alone phoneline if they need help and support. We have a stable delivery mechanism for delivering the food which can scale up if needed for more emergency food deliveries in the coming weeks.


As well as emergency food packages, we have also set up a system for calling on a pool of transport offers across the county which include voluntary offers, private companies and resources with current contracts, which can be drawn upon within our statutory organisations. The transport resource is managed through a single point of contact and will be used as and when need arises.  The role of passenger transport and community transport services has been important with meeting the urgent need for food and medical supplies. Having a pool of transport offers will be essential to ensure that support can be provided in the long term and we’re really grateful for all the offers we have received.


The Home, But Not Alone Phoneline:


  • Freephone: 0800 876 6926
  • Staffed 9am to 5pm everyday
  • It is designed to help the most vulnerable in our communities
  • Last week the phoneline had approximately 1,300 calls
  • The majority of calls are in relation to food deliveries and general enquiries


Below is just a snapshot of the great work going on as Suffolk comes together to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak:


  • An elderly couple, both with severe medical conditions, contacted the phoneline when their neighbours, who usually provide support, needed to self-isolate. They had enough food for 3 days, but needed immediate help with medication. Following a conversation with their GP, a replacement prescription was organised for the next day, plus it was arranged that their medicine would be delivered from now on. The parish council were able to contact a group of volunteers and within one hour a volunteer had been in touch with the couple to collect a shopping list. This arrangement will stand until they no longer need help. The couple said they were very happy with this outcome and grateful for the support of the phoneline.
  • The phoneline number was passed to a woman in her 80s by her GP. She had recently been discharged from the hospital and lives alone. She needed urgent help with her medical needs and was feeling very isolated and lonely. Her details were passed to Good Sam, an NHS volunteering hub, who within 2 hours had phoned the woman and sorted her medical need and arranged a weekly call. The woman was grateful for having ‘one less thing to worry about. I’m very impressed with how quickly it was done.’
  • A referral was made by a couple’s son who lives out of the area. His elderly parents, both in their 80s, were unable to access shopping or prescriptions, but were both independent and content to make arrangements for themselves. A list of contact details for help and support in their local neighbourhood was shared with the son so they can plan for prescription deliveries and other supplies when required.


Phone calls are answered and cases managed by staff at each district, borough or county council depending on the type of enquiry.  Wherever possible we link people in need with local groups and businesses, who are doing an amazing job in our communities.  This phoneline is for vulnerable people in our communities, and not for general Coronavirus enquiries.


Volunteering within communities:

  • Funding: Each day grants and funding are being made available from central Government and other bodies, including the National Lottery, for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations. The Board is working to ensure that Suffolk groups receive their share of the money. In order to do this we are looking ad various forms of cascading the information including interactive webinars and online support from professionals. The National Lottery has allocated £360m to the sector nationally – Suffolk will see a share of this.


  • Voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations:  Community Action Suffolk, who sit on the Board, is currently working through the results of a Covid-19 impact survey which they sent to all VCSE organisations on their network.  The results will be used to formulate key strategies to support the sector and help with national.


The survey indicates that if organisations have to rely solely on reserves – 30% of responding organisations will face closure within 6 months from now, and a further 30% will close up to 12 months from now.  Therefore, without additional funding, our sector in Suffolk could be reduced by around 60% in 12 months. 


Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government would be making £750m available to support charities through the coronavirus crisis.  Concerns have already been raised amongst sector leaders, and shared by Community Action Suffolk, that this will not be anywhere near enough.  National bodies have the estimated loss to the whole sector at c. £4.5bn.


More information will be available on the website shortly: www.communityactionsuffolk.org.uk


  • Local community support network: Our local community support network has been doing an impressive job of meeting need at the local level. An incredible network of town and parish councils, Good Neighbour Schemes and local community groups has emerged. These groups are doing an amazing job of meeting the needs that exist within communities. District and Borough officers have been making contact with many of these groups and alongside Community Action Suffolk, Suffolk Association of Local Councils and the wider CCB are here to support their continued capacity and resilience.


  • Tribe Volunteer App: We continue to work with the app developer, Bronze Labs, to create new functionality for the app including a function to connect with local community support groups. In the meantime, in addition to using the data to allocate tasks, we will be starting to liaise with volunteers to connect them with local groups and more established charities, e.g. Age UK, so that we can take a more systematic approach to the allocation of tasks and meet some of the vetting arrangements that have to be in place to meet the needs of vulnerable people while the response to the pandemic continues to evolve. The App is proving a really useful channel for attracting volunteers and, remembering that this is a marathon not a sprint, we will continue to develop the functionality to fit in with the long term development of volunteering in Suffolk.


Mental Health: A new 24/7 helpline offering immediate support for mental health difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic has been set up by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust. The freephone service, called First Response, launched yesterday (Wednesday 15 April). It is available on 0808 196 3494.


Housing: The Board continues to provide accommodation solutions for all those individuals that require accommodation. This week the team have divided roles and responsibilities in to three separate work streams. The first focussing on intelligently predicting demand for temporary accommodation. The second ensuring sufficient accommodation is always available. Whilst the third cell is focussed on providing the support required to ensure effective outreach to support individuals to thrive.


As we finish our 4th week in isolation, it is important that we stay the course and continue to follow Government guidelines and stay at home to save lives. Please feel free to come back to the team on this email address if you would like any further information.

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