by adamboyden on 15 March, 2020
Updated 12th May.
We know this is going to be a difficult time for many people. It is vital to follow medical advice and take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves, our families and community and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus – please see:
The current Government rules everyone must follow are now here:
You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms; see here.
All non-essential shops and community spaces remain closed. The law stops people leaving home without ‘reasonable excuse’, which includes: going shopping for “basic necessities”; exercise, including with family members; travelling to and from work; and supporting isolated people. It is not a crime to leave your home to flee harm – for example, domestic abuse. The police have powers to enforce these – see here – but are enforcing by consent.
From 13th May, people in England will be allowed to spend more leisure time outside, provided they comply with social distancing guidelines. Those who cannot work from home “should be encouraged to return to work”. Food retailers, hardware stores, garden centres and food takeaways can remain open. ‘Back to work’ Government guidelines can be found here.
The Government has published a lengthy ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ to explain what people can and cannot do – dealing with Public spaces, outdoor activities and exercise; Vulnerable groups, shielding, 70 year olds and over, and care homes; Going to work / Safer spaces; Workers rights; Public Transport; Schools and childcare; Borders/ international visitors; and Enforcement – please see here.
The Government has also announced the furlough scheme (to pay 80% of the wages of workers put on leave) is being extended until the end of October, although employers will be asked to contribute from August – see here.
The Government’s new slogan ‘Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives’ has been much criticised for not being clear. If in doubt, ‘Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save lives’ still remains a clear guide, as well as perhaps ‘stay safe, so you can help others’, and ‘Keep your distance’.
All Government guidance, announcements and other information can be found here.
Somerset Coronavirus Helpline 0300 790 6275:
A single number for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from our local councils. Anyone who cannot find help within their own community networks can use the helpline 0300 790 6275 to get help and advice on:
This links to Mendip District and Somerset County Councils’ contact centres and is open every day 8am to 6pm. This does not cover medical advice. The councils in Somerset are getting in touch with people on their database that may be vulnerable to see if they need assistance.
PPE supply: Avon & Somerset Local Resilience Forum are asking for help with the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from local PPE suppliers or any businesses that have stock which could be used – if you can help please see here.
Frome Town Council is supporting services to help people in isolation and encouraging people to help with Emergency Food Parcels and bespoke shopping for isolated people – please see here. Please see answers to Frequently Asked Questions here, and advice and support for families here. If you have a query or need help please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01373 465757. Frome Town Council news can be found here. An advice leaflet was delivered to the town last month (see here).
Somerset Waste Partnership: Update Monday 11th May: Collections of garden waste have been restarted. Eleven recycling centres (including Frome) are now open for people to deposit refuse only (not recycling) that cannot be safely stored at home, with vehicles admitted on a ‘one in one out’ basis with an odd and even numberplate system in use: odd numbers only Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays; even numbers only Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Please see here for essential details before you set out, and here for the latest on waste disposal and collection services as a whole.
Mendip District Council: See here for services and advice, or call 0300 303 8588. Council offices are closed. Mendip’s information is here, including: how services have been affected; information for residents on waste collections; financial help; homelessness. Advice for businesses and employers is here.
Over 1000 Mendip businesses have received £14 million in grants – if your business needs help please visit https://www.mendip.gov.uk/businessrates to check for your eligibility and apply for a grant today. Please send any queries to email@example.com.
Advice on financial difficulties including Council Tax, benefits, rent and other financial help is here https://www.mendip.gov.uk/article/8790/COVID-19-Council-Tax-Benefits-Rent-and-other-financial-concerns
Mendip’s markets are now closed, but we now have a virtual market online so you can continue to support local market traders while you stay safe at home – please browse here.
Bonfire ban: With everyone staying at home during these difficult times, the Council is asking Mendip residents to be considerate to their neighbours and avoid having bonfires at all – see here.
Mindline’s emotional support helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, please see here
Domestic abuse awareness campaign launched: A Government campaign has been launched to highlight that anyone is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, is still able leave and seek refuge. Please see: here. Help and support on domestic abuse can also be found here.
See the many local shops and food delivery services – here.
Citizens Advice services – please see here or call 03444 889623.
Fair Frome foodbank is asking for food donations and funds to buy food as the need to support people is increasing – a fundraising page has been set up here. For up to date information please visit the Fair Frome website, call 01373 488578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Health Connections Mendip has a large directory of a wide range of local community and health support groups – please see here
Active and In Touch continue to help people who are isolated and lonely, and are calling for more volunteers who have been DBS checked to help with phone calls to elderly members who are having to self isolate. They are happy to help elderly people who are now more isolated – please see here, call 07539795261 or email email@example.com.
Somerset Community Foundation has launched the Somerset Coronavirus appeal to get vital funding to local charities and community organisations that helping the most vulnerable people during the outbreak.
Western Power Distribution has also launched a fund for charities, community groups and local councils to apply for funds to support the delivery of vital support and services to people in vulnerable situations – see here.
“Look out for each other”
It is also really important that people support each other, and that our community supports people in need. Frome Town Council, Mendip Health Connections and other community groups are working together to ensure that strategic co-ordination is in place locally to help the most vulnerable.
The Mayor of Frome is calling for people who are healthy and able to contact their 5 nearest neighbours to see if they need any help. Above is a version of the community help form which you can download and print, and use to let neighbours know who can help them. Frome Town Council’s message on keeping people connected is here.
Anyone who would like to help others in Frome can join the Frome volunteer register at www.bit.ly/Frome-Covid-Help.
Local support groups are also being formed to provide support for neighbours, including to buy or collect food and other essentials safely. The Packsaddle Community Group is organising a support network in its area. If you are able to help this group or help form a support group in your street, please let us know. Groups are also organising on the Nextdoor app, on Facebook and at https://fromefuture.wordpress.com/.
Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK has a national list of mutual support groups at https://covidmutualaid.org/local-groups/.
NHS Responders is a national volunteer initiative launched in March to help support vulnerable individuals who are self-isolating: https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS.
Purple Elephant (Frome Toy Library, Frome Children’s Festival) are supporting local families with activity packs, toys and books, to help keep vulnerable families occupied and avoid spiralling into crisis. Please see the website or Local Giving.
The Community Council for Somerset (community / village agents) are already working in communities with different groups and individuals to make sure the vulnerable are identified and supported. Local village agent details can be found at https://somersetagents.org/somerset-village-agents/
Liberal Democrats: Nationally our party and MPs are encouraging the Government to improve their response to this crisis, including on testing and PPE, and have proposed a Frontline Support Package for NHS and social care workers in the frontline of this crisis – please see the campaign here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/in-detail-frontline-support.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to provide the maximum level of support for businesses, employees and public sector workers, the self-employed and those in the least protected positions in society – see here for updates. The party’s national advice is found here.
Please get in touch if you have any concerns or questions.
I will update this regularly when I receive further advice as a councillor. Stay safe, look after yourselves, and each other.
cllr Adam Boyden
Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Cllr.Boyden@mendip.gov.uk
With Councillor Drew Gardner, Frome College ward, email Cllr.Gardner@mendip.gov.uk2 Comments