Highlights from the Hubs update - Friday 15 May 2020

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Adrian Chapman

Alongside our work to support people who are shielded from COVID-19, the countywide hub has this week been busy making contact with people who we’ve been advised need to be shielding but who haven’t yet registered as such. This exercise is described in more detail later in this newsletter, but it has been a large-scale and complex operation, which would not have been possible without an amazing range of partners and volunteers, hundreds of whom have been pounding the streets all week.

Volunteers from Team Rubicon, the British Red Cross, and other local organisations, as well as colleagues from our district and city council and Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service partners have pulled together to make sure that everyone who needs help and support is offered it, as well as just knowing that we’re here to help if they need anything whilst they continue to shield.

The vast majority of people visited are safe and well, and have made their own arrangements to get food, medicines and other supplies. But in a small number of cases we’ve been able to respond quickly to requests for urgent food supplies or other forms of help. We couldn’t have achieved this without the support of all of the partners involved, whose resilience, passion and determination has been limitless.

I hope the news and information in this latest edition is helpful and interesting; please stay safe and
well, and very best wishes.

Adrian Chapman, Service Director: Communities and Partnerships, Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council


Content table

Shielded list continues to grow as more people register for support

shielded visit

The number of people who have registered as shielding across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has risen by more than 800 people in a week.

As of yesterday (Thursday) there were 16,264 people on the shielded list, meaning they are extremely vulnerable to the risks of coronavirus. The Thursday prior there were 15,455.

Of these people, 4,852 have told us they need help.

A new master data set of people that the NHS believes should be shielded from the virus was received last week; a total of 29,032 people.

The hub has written to those who have not registered to encourage them to do so, alongside the contact they are receiving from the national shielding service.

In addition, home visits have been taking place to people who the NHS believes should be shielding who have not yet registered, despite repeated contact being made.

Last week 727 people on this list who have not answered any of the calls or letters sent by the Government were visited by redeployed council staff and our partners in the district and city councils.

Almost 3,700 other people are being visited this week by volunteers from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Team Rubicon, Age UK, Bike Shed community response volunteers, district and city councils and elsewhere.

The county has been divided up by city or district, with a team on the patch each day until Sunday.

If the person is not home when a visit is made, a letter is put through their door asking them to register, or at least make contact with the hub to confirm they are safe and well and have support systems in place.

Rob Hill, assistant director for community safety, Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “The home visits this week have gone well and we have made contact with lots of people who need support and did not realise it was available. This is one of the reasons our list of shielded people is growing, but this is a good thing as we can then work with those people to keep them safe and well.

“I cannot thank enough the army of volunteers we have had supporting us – without them we would not have been able to reach as many people as we have. Their hard work is making sure that some of the most vulnerable people in our communities are supported.”

Group Commander Karl Bowden, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s lead for the Community Hub, said: “I’m immensely proud of our team for the way they’ve stepped up and adapted to new ways of working, while going above and beyond to help those in need.

“As a service we’re very much ready to respond to emergencies, but it’s really important we help to protect those who are most vulnerable in our community. As well as visiting vulnerable residents, we are also providing support to our partners. We’ve seconded staff to the ambulance service to drive ambulances, as well as giving emergency blue light driver training.”

Staff at the hub regularly receive messages of thanks from people they are supporting. This message was received from Jane in Peterborough who is shielding: “I was really impressed with the

professionalism, empathy and attention to detail shown to me during the phone call from the county hub. I cannot praise them highly enough.”

Delivering thousands of items of PPE to key workers every day

Ensuring a steady flow of the right kit at the right time has been the challenge of the local PPE team, led by Sarah Learney from NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on behalf of the Local Resilience Forum.

Over 40,000 items of PPE are distributed across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough each day to a wide range of organisations including GPs, pharmacies, prisons, hospices, care homes, domiciliary care agencies, emergency dentists, children’s homes, residential special schools, children’s social care services, funeral services, hospital social care discharge teams, the fire service, highways and many others thanks to this fantastic partnership effort.

At the PPE warehouse, a team of ex-military volunteers from Team Rubicon are working with members of the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG to organise thousands of pieces of PPE, taking orders from over 1,000 different service users, picking, packing and distributing PPE for next day delivery by the British Red Cross.

Sarah Learney explains: “We understand just how important it is to get the right PPE to key workers at the right time. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, our response has been a genuine partnership effort bringing together all of the Local Resilience Forum and amazing volunteers, such as Team Rubicon and the British Red Cross, who have ensured we can distribute thousands of items of PPE seven days a week.

“I wanted to thank everyone who has supported us so far, including the West Cambs Federation for providing us with office space in our set up phase and the Urban&Civic for providing free warehouse space for us to set up and run our PPE warehouse from at Alconbury Weald, as well as all of the members of staff from NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG who have been working seven days a week to keep the operation running smoothly.

“Whilst others are moving to recovery, the PPE continues to work at pace to meet the needs of our local key workers and will continue to do so for as long as we are needed.”

Spotlight on our partners

Spotlight Nick Challis

Nick Challis is an Army veteran who is volunteering for Team Rubicon UK to support the work of the Countywide Hub.

My wife and I were volunteers on a wildlife sanctuary in Namibia when the COVID-19 pandemic took a grip of the world. In the blink of an eye, my wife had gone back to work as a nurse and I was deployed by Team Rubicon UK to set up the PPE distribution operation across Cambridgeshire. Now I’m living in Grafham Village Hall, leading another Team Rubicon team to complete safe and well visits to folk who have not responded to the council’s efforts to offer support.

Team Rubicon UK repurposes veterans’ myriad planning, leadership, communication and technical skills for a new purpose, that of “serving again” by helping others. It’s a small charity that punches well above its weight, responding rapidly and with significant effect to international disasters. This time we’re staying at “home” to serve on UK soil. There’s about 3,000 vulnerable, shielding folk in the, county who, for whatever reason, have remained silent. On every level, they deserve our support and Rob Hill and his outstanding team deserve the opportunity to deliver that support.

Team Rubicon is the bridge between the two; a bridge we are providing across the UK on a variety of tasks.

I met Roy Harold MBE (former fire chief, Norfolk) for the first time last Thursday; he is leading operations on-the-ground and we were briefed by Rob Hill and Jonathan Harwood the same day. We met with our four team leaders for the first time the following day in Grafham Village Hall, to get to know each other, make a plan and get organised; team leaders are four superb Team Rubicon volunteers Gareth Thomas, Zak Golby, Josie Loh and Mike Beach.

We executed the first 467 visits on Monday, with 30 spontaneous volunteers from some 15 different organisations, which we divided into groups and clustered under the four team leaders. The whole thing was structured and executed using paper maps, spreadsheets, a lot of communication, flexibility and a huge sense of humour. We’ve now adopted an IT based route optimisation package, which is further accelerating delivery of these critical visits and, at the time of writing (three days into the task), we have completed 1,370 visits.

The folk in Team Rubicon instinctively move towards challenges, leaving their ego behind. They seek first to understand, then plan, communicate, get organised and deliver the solution; rapidly and collegiately. As someone who had an unconventional start in life, I understand vulnerability and I’m passionate about helping others. Beyond family, it is my reason and I’m grateful Peterborough City and Cambridgeshire County Councils have given me two wonderful opportunities to do it in the UK when it’s needed the most. I hope we have been (are being) of service.

Catering project helps people in Melbourn and Meldreth

SCDC food story

Hundreds of prepared, nutritious meals have been delivered to residents in Melbourn and Meldreth thanks to chefs and hospitality partners, the Melbourn Coronavirus Community Response, and South Cambridgeshire District Council (SHDC).

Liz Young, a professional chef who now runs catering company The Modern Table, was offered funding to help feed those who may be in difficulty due to the pandemic. With support from a number of other individuals from the local catering community, Liz needed to work out the details around who to provide meals for, and how to distribute them. She was put in touch with SCDC, which was able to use existing networks and local knowledge to identify Melbourn Coronavirus Community Response as a community group that would be able to rapidly distribute the meals to residents in Melbourn and Meldreth.

The scheme was quickly set up, with the meals prepared in Steak and Honour’s commercial kitchen in Cambridge, and then transported to the Melbourn Community Hub kitchen. From here the team of Melbourn Coronavirus Community Response volunteers deliver them to families’ doorsteps.

Councillor Jose Hales, district councillor for Melbourn, said: “I feel really fortunate that this idea was brought to life in my village. All credit to this group for having the idea and the get up and go to make it happen. If other chefs or community groups are wondering what they can do to help, get in touch and council staff will be happy to help.”

To contact the council to discuss setting up something similar email duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk

Peterborough man one of hundreds supported to access food

A woman who lives in Norfolk has thanked the Countywide Coordination Hub for supporting her elderly brother who is shielding to access food supplies.

The lady got in touch this week to say thank you to the team which delivered food shopping to her brother in Eastfield, Peterborough

She said: "He was delighted and we are so very grateful as he lives on his own and has no family in the area.

"I was unable to get him any food delivery slots with any of the supermarkets which was understandable. So last weekend I went on Peterborough City Council's website and gave his details in the hope he might get a little bag of shopping delivered to him. I was delighted to get a phone call first thing last Monday from the council telling me they would deliver some food to him on the Thursday. He phoned me on Thursday to tell me he got big box of food delivered and he was so pleased and grateful, so again thank you so much.

"It made such a difference as he was delighted that someone took time to see him."

This gentleman is one of hundreds of residents who are shielding who have received food parcels from the hub. So far, 1,400 people across Cambridgeshire have received a food parcel. In addition, 409 people have received deliveries of specialist food and other items that need collecting.

National food deliveries are also taking place each week – 9,233 shielded people were due to receive one this week.

The hub receives regular data showing where the national scheme has been unable to make a delivery, for example because of access issues. These cases are being followed up as soon as the hub is notified, to ensure the recipient is safe and well and to arrange a food delivery from the hub.

Reaching the county’s diverse communities

county's diverse messaging

Every week there are important messages coming from Government which need sharing with as many people as possible. In Peterborough and parts of Cambridgeshire this means making key messages available in many different languages. This is no small task, but both Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City Councils have used innovative ways to do so.

For example, when the Prime Minister delivered the important stay at home message, the councils arranged for it to be translated into more than 30 different languages by asking trusted contacts in the community to video record them. They are available to view here.

Other local authorities across the country have also requested permission to use these video translations for their own residents.

The city council and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have also worked with Peterborough company Service AV to display the translations on its large portable screen in communities where many different languages are spoken. You can watch a video about this here.

Many other translations are also available to view and share on the council's website here which other organisations are being asked to use widely to reach as many people as possible.

Hubs work together to deliver urgent medication

Just before 5pm last Wednesday the Countywide Coordination Hub received an 'I need help request' form via the council’s website from a lady who urgently required medication for her son that evening.

A hub staff member, Gareth, spoke to the pharmacy to try and arrange a delivery, however the pharmacy refused to deliver the medication that evening as its delivery driver had left for the day.

Determined not to give up and to help the resident, Gareth called the Peterborough Hub which gave him a number for SERV, a local bikers group which is collecting and delivering prescriptions for people in need.

SERV immediately arranged for one of its bikers to collect the prescription and delivered it to the lady's home by 5.40pm - within an hour of the form being received!

This is just one example of the hundreds of people who are supported each day by the network of hubs.

Cambridge project supports community to make PPE

community scrapstore

The Cambridge Community Scrapstore is offering materials free of charge to people making personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and community volunteers during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Scrapstore, run by Cambridge City Council, is in normal times a resource for those searching out arts and crafts material. It has now turned to distributing fabrics and materials to home-sewers running up scrubs and face masks for use in hospitals and hospices.

The Scrapstore has been offered temporary space in the Howard Road Baptist Church and now opens every morning for visitors to pick through donated textiles, needles, thread, ribbon, and other materials, all while maintaining social distancing.

It has waived its usual membership fees so visitors are able to take what they wish, free of charge. Home-sewers in Cambridge can then turn the material into finished scrubs, facemasks, head coverings, keepsake bags and more.

Home-sewn masks are used by volunteers and mutual aid groups as they go door to door distributing food parcels to vulnerable people who are self-isolating or unable to shop for themselves. Other items are used by key workers in hospices and hospitals, where demand for scrubs and face masks has greatly increased as they must be changed and washed more frequently.

Councillor Anna Smith, executive councillor for communities for Cambridge City Council, said: “If you have sewing skills it’s a great opportunity to put them to good use. The materials we are giving away have all been donated to the Scrapstore, and we are delighted to be able to use them to give something back to key workers, volunteers and mutual aid groups.”

For the most up-to-date information on the Scrapstore’s opening times, visit the store’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/camscrapstore

Chocolate eggs spread joy at children’s ward

easter eggs story

In last week’s newsletter we told you about a donation to the hub of 5,000 Easter eggs from Nestle International.

On Monday some of the eggs were donated to the children’s ward at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, particularly those with terminal illnesses or undergoing cancer treatment. Some of these children have limited access to their relatives because of the infection risks posed.

Fifty of the large chocolate eggs were delivered to the hospital office of Dr Suzanna Watson, paediatric neuropsychologist (also a member of the Red Cross psycho-social team) who spread the word to senior nurses. Distribution to the children's ward began and apparently the supply didn't last the hour!

East Cambridgeshire Communities Collaboration – Online and now in print!

east cambs mag

At the East Cambs Hub communities have been at the heart of the pandemic response. Since late March community leaders have been getting together online each week in meetings hosted by East Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Care Network. It has been a wonderful way to learn from each other and share ideas.

A common theme identified by local communities has been a concern that people who are not on the internet feel out of touch and don’t always have access to key information. As a result, next week sees the publication of a community newsletter – bursting at the seams with community stories and information.

Another common theme for the local support groups has been the amazing number of enthusiastic volunteers who have come forward to help. So much so that the magazines will be dropping on doormats across East Cambs with the delivery fuelled by volunteers. We even had an Ely resident, Zoe Davidson, giving her time and media skills to help create the publication whilst furloughed from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. If you are leading a community response in East Cambs, are not yet part of the forum, and would like to join, please email wendy.lansdown@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Youth and community team supporting young people

The Essentials Skills for Life Programme, funded by the DfE as part of the Social Mobility Opportunity Area and delivered by the Youth and Community Team at Cambridgeshire County Council, has continued to support young people during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Prior to lockdown the programme was supporting 13 secondary schools, aiding over 1,000 young people since September.

Despite the restrictions of Covid-19 the Youth and Community Team has worked hard to continue supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged young people. The programme has offered digital sessions via video call platforms to keep in contact with vulnerable and disadvantaged young people and to ensure they receive the emotional support they need as well as access to resources and activities to supplement their ongoing education.

For example, last week, the Youth and Community team delivered 12 art boxes to support the participation of traveller children at Wilburton Primary School. Another 700 are to be delivered through a partnership with 20Twenty productions, Living sport, CCORRN and Healthy Fenland.

Emma Peppercorn, programme manager for Essential Skills, said: “The work carried out by the Youth and Community Team has been vital to supporting many young people across the community during this difficult period.

“Without this programme more than 1,200 young people could be left feeling isolated and restricted in their opportunities for development and growth.

“We are grateful for the continued opportunity to support our young people during this difficult time.”