Highlights from the Hubs update - Friday, 12 June 2020

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This week is National Carers’ week – a really important moment to celebrate the outstanding contribution that those people caring for family and friends make to individuals and communities. It’s also an opportunity to shine a light on the many challenges that carers face, even more so in the midst of the current pandemic. There are thought to be well over 6million people nationally who are caring for a family member or a friend; without this, so many of those cared for will likely need to access more formal services and support, and may not even be able to carry on living at home.

Here in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, we have many fantastic carers, often supporting the people they care for 24/7, and in this week’s Highlights from the Hubs, we share some of their stories.

We’re also fortunate to have some really amazing support organisations locally, who provide advice, guidance, support and respite to our caring community, and again, this edition includes some details of their work.

In a similar way, last week was National Volunteers’ Week, and in last week’s edition we celebrated the thousands of volunteers across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who are giving up their time to help those who need support at this really difficult time.

Following that, Matt Oliver, who is one of a number of people leading the work of the Countywide Co-ordination Hub, was interviewed on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s breakfast show last Saturday. Matt spoke about some of the many ways volunteers are supporting people who need help and how we want to harness this support from our communities for long-term benefit. It’s worth a listen and you can do so here. Fast forward to 2 hours 52 minutes into the show.

Whether you are volunteering in your community, or are someone caring for a family member or friend, thank you from all of us to all of you.

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

Content table

Safe and well checks continue to trace vulnerable

Safe and well checks for people who the NHS believes should be shielding who have not yet registered have been continuing.

In the past two weeks the Co-ordination Hub has been supported by the British Red Cross and redeployed staff, including county council library staff members, to make contact with just over 2,000 people to check whether they are okay and need help and support.

Of this group, 1,228 people were successfully contacted by telephone and a further 780 were visited at home.

As a result, 27 people who required urgent help and support were identified. 

Rob Hill, part of the hub team, said: “We will continue in the coming days and weeks to attempt to make contact with people who we have been told should be shielding who have not yet registered.

“We know from the visits we have made so far how essential this work is, as we are coming across people who really do need our help and support at this time.

“I cannot thank enough the redeployed staff and volunteers we have supporting us on these checks. Their hard work is making sure that some of the most vulnerable people in our communities are supported.”

Janette, one of the redeployed staff members from Peterborough City Council who has been supporting the work, said: “I really enjoyed making the calls this week.  I feel as if I made a difference, I hope, to many of the people I spoke to.”

As of yesterday (Thursday) there are now 18,893 people on the shielded list, with 4,538 people telling the hub that they need ongoing support.

Hub's work with carers helps couple feel safe

Aware of the additional pressure upon unpaid family carers during the coronavirus lockdown, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council have been busy calling carers to make sure they have access to support.

The Co-ordination Hub has been supporting carers and the most vulnerable members of society, helping with access to food and medication, signposting to professional services, arranging a friendly phone call and offering a point of contact should any needs arise.

Those working and volunteering in the hub are speaking to carers young and old every day, from all walks of life, including Mr F, who was finding it increasingly difficult to care for his wife during the lockdown. Mr F, himself in his 80s and recovering from throat cancer, is a full-time carer for his wife, who is disabled and unable to leave the house. He was having to make essential trips for food and medication, meaning he was having to leave his wife alone at home for prolonged periods.

Mr F was contacted by the council and referred to the Co-ordination Hub, and the couple is now receiving support with food deliveries and medication.

Mr F said: “The lady from the council was brilliant. My wife and I now have online slots with two supermarkets, and we’ve received a food bundle that was just great. They are also helping pick up our medication. It may sound like a simple thing to some people, but I can’t tell you how much it means to us, just knowing that someone is looking out for us and there if we need them.”

Helen Duncan, head of adult safeguarding at Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said: “The number of people taking on caring responsibilities nationally and locally is growing faster than ever, and this has only been heightened by the coronavirus lockdown. We support carers from all walks of life and often they don’t give themselves enough credit for the incredible work they do for others. Being a carer is rewarding, but it is difficult. We want carers to know you are not alone. Through the councils and our partners there is a lot of help out there for you, so please get in touch.”

In the last census 65,000 people identified themselves as carers in Cambridgeshire, and close to 20,000 in Peterborough, but we know the numbers are likely to be higher as those providing care don’t often see themselves as a ‘carer’.

As part of National Carers Week, carers are being informed about the help and support available. Caring Together is there for adult carers in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and for young carers in Peterborough; Centre 33 supports young carers in Cambridgeshire and Making Space helps carers in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who look after someone with mental ill health. Information for carers is available on the County Council / City Council websites.

Goodie bags delivered to shielding police

police goodie bag

Cambridgeshire Police’s wellbeing network has been out in force spreading some cheer and delivering healthy snack boxes to officers and staff who are self-isolating at home.

On Monday almost 30 volunteers delivered fruit and vegetables to all police stations and to those who are shielding.

The rally, which was supported by the Federation and the National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO), was organised by the wellbeing network as part of what would have been National Healthy Eating Week, which has been postponed until September.

Inspector Caroline Scully, member of the wellbeing network and organiser of the event, said: “Although we may not have been able to reach everyone who is isolating, we hope we got to as many people as possible who may have missed out on some of the generous deliveries that have been gifted to some of our stations in recent months.

“I would also like to extend a huge thank you to NARPO and the Federation for their help in making this operation possible!”

A total of 154 boxes were delivered to officers and staff who are isolating as well as every station and office across the county to reach as many people from across the force as possible.

Meal scheme launches with Over Day Centre

A new hot food scheme at Over Day Centre has launched in South Cambridgeshire after the district council successfully bid for funding from national developer, Countryside.

On Wednesday 40 meals were provided to vulnerable residents who are unable to attend the day centres in Over and Cottenham during the coronavirus pandemic. This week’s main was shepherd’s pie followed by an apple strudel. Plans for a second food hub are now underway in the south of the district. The hub will provide food to vulnerable residents and is likely to include the council working with schools in areas where a higher proportion of children access a free school meal. The food in the second hub is being cooked by C3 Churches who are based in Cambridge. They are already cooking hundreds of meals each week for people in Cambridge and beyond. Both schemes would not be possible without funding from Countryside, the volunteer chefs, team to support them and community volunteers who ensure the food reaches the people who need it.

Support for people removed from shielded list

People who have been identified as no longer having to shield are being supported by the Co-Ordination Hub to access ongoing assistance should they need it.

The review of those on the shielded list is led nationally and letters are sent by GPs to those who no longer need to shield.

Around 1,200 people have been removed from the shielding list since the programme began in March – this is either because a GP or clinician has determined they are not clinically vulnerable or because they have been incorrectly identified as needing to shield.

However, the Co-ordination Hub knows that some of these people may still need help, so is making contact with those who have been receiving support,  firstly to ensure they are aware they have been removed from the shielded list and secondly, to identify if they have any urgent needs. They will also be referred to the network of district and city hubs for ongoing support, if this is needed.

People who are concerned by the change in status are being asked to contact their GP to discuss in more detail.

Nikitta Vanterpool, part of the hub team, said: “Our ethos at the hub is to make sure that everyone who needs support at this difficult time receives it. That is why we are contacting those people who we have been supporting, who are no longer on the shielded list, to ensure that they have all the support they need in place."

Youth and Community Team supports KICK online move

Coronavirus saw the suspension of all KICK groups and activities, leaving those that use the youth service, and the staff within, disappointed.

However, with support from the Youth and Community Coordinator for Huntingdonshire, the youth charity has been awarded funding that will enable it to set up a virtual youth club to support young people during this difficult time.

KICK is a youth service provider which offers positive activities and informal education interventions to young people including those who are vulnerable, marginalised or at risk of exclusion across the St Ives area.

The charity works with local schools and organisations in order to deliver a variety of programmes to help young people across Cambridgeshire transition into adulthood. Having recently been awarded funding from the Community Reach Fund, run by Cambridgeshire County Council, KICK will be able to continue this support online.

The Youth and Community team has been supporting KICK by providing information, advice and guidance to allow it to move its youth groups online through Zoom.

Allison Preece, Youth and Community Coordinator, said: “It is really important to maintain open access provision for young people who may find it difficult to be part of other groups.

“KICK are great at supporting vulnerable and marginalised young people and this move to virtual services will make this support even more accessible.”

Community Chest Grants for community groups

Huntingdonshire District Council has announced the latest community groups to receive Community Chest Grant funding to support work and initiatives being launched for communities during COVID-19.

The initiatives include paying towards staff cover, improving stocks used for food parcels, providing hot meals for vulnerable people and purchasing supermarket vouchers for those in need.

The Community Chest Grant has allowed organisations and community groups, which have been struggling during the pandemic, to carry on supporting communities.

Executive Leader of the council, Councillor Ryan Fuller, said: “We have now awarded funding to 22 community groups or projects to help support their efforts to provide valuable assistance in their local areas in response to COVID-19. There is still a large amount of the Community Chest Fund remaining, and we will keep the application process open so that we can continue to do whatever we can to support local initiatives.”

If you would like to apply for funding from the Community Chest, you should complete the online application form which can be found at www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk/communitychestfund Applications will be considered by councillors on a weekly basis.

Spotlight on our Partners: And it’s goodbye from him...

Spotlight feature

Matt Staton has worked in road safety at Cambridgeshire County Council for the last 12 years and is the Highway Projects and Road Safety Manager overseeing a service that delivers small and medium-sized highway projects including structures, resurfacing, local highway improvements, road safety education and road safety engineering. However, for the last 8 weeks he has been redeployed into the Covid-19 Coordination Hub. Now he is returning to his highways role, but on his final week he’s taken time to reflect on his contribution to the work of the hub.

“In my highways role we spent the first couple of weeks of the crisis identifying what the priority activities were across highways, managing the closedown of sites and ensuring all the team were set up for working from home. As only a small proportion of my team’s work fell under the high priority maintenance works, most of the team were identified as being available for redeployment. A number of my team were put forward for various roles and then a request came through for a specialist role to help with the coordination of testing. It turned out I was the only one available that met the requirements so put myself forward and was redeployed into the hub.

“However, within a couple of days of starting it was evident this role was no longer required as national arrangements had been brought in, but the hub team were able to match my skills to another specialist project in the hub: setting up a new service to extend the support available to people who were shielding.

“Having been a bit frustrated with the first few days, I was really pleased to be able to lend my skills to help with the pandemic response. Little did I know that eight weeks later I’d be leaving behind a service with over 60 redeployed staff that had already responded to more than 100 requests for help with things like shopping, medication and gardening and also coordinated safe and well checks for just over 2,000 shielded people.

“I have found my time in the hub to be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable even though it has been very challenging and a steep learning curve. The team in the hub and the place-based coordinators out in the districts have been incredible and it has been amazing to see people from across both councils with such varied backgrounds come together and support each other to achieve what we have done.

“I hope it is something the organisation can learn from, as there will be so many services enriched as a result of staff being redeployed and gaining a broader insight and experience of the organisation as a whole, and the communities we serve. I have gained a working knowledge of Think Communities that will be invaluable in the implementation of our new road safety strategy and can feed into our local highways work. I have made new friends, forged new working relationships and seen the direct positive impact we can have on our residents’ lives.

“As I walk out the door of the hub on my final day here it is a bittersweet feeling. I can’t wait to get back to my team and support them with the important work in our county’s recovery from this pandemic, share our stories of redeployment and implement some of the good practice we have experienced. But that is tinged with a sadness that I am leaving behind another team, people who have helped me grow (not just my hair!) and a shared experience that will hopefully shape the way we work for many years to come… to the team at the hub all I can say is THANK YOU!"

Coronavirus Community Fund's countywide impact

More than £600,000 has been distributed by the Cambridgeshire Coronavirus Community Fund to support community organisations across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to continue to help those in need during the Covid-19 crisis.

Many groups have had to adapt their services to continue providing support to the community, including a shift to online services or remote delivery.

As a result of lockdown, many opportunities that groups rely on for fundraising have been cancelled, such as the London Marathon, and as such the funds to make these changes and to continue supporting the community have become stretched.

However, thanks to the Cambridgeshire Coronavirus Community Fund, many organisations have been able to continue supporting their communities. This has included helping those with learning disabilities, supporting people to access groceries and food, assisting those at risk of homelessness and supplying people with the resources to allow them to remain occupied in lockdown and improve their wellbeing.

This fund itself is completely reliant on donations from the public.

Katrina D’Souza, community development officer for the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, said: “We are so grateful to our donors, but the fund can only run for as long as people are donating to it.

“The Cambridgeshire Community Foundation has always been focused on addressing the inequality that exists across Cambridgeshire, which no doubt will be negatively impacted as a result of the virus. We all have a responsibility to support our community!”

You can find out more and donate to the fund here.

Community support for all

South Cambridgeshire District Council has completed work to ensure the Gypsy and Traveller community in the district has the same access to support as everyone else in the area. The work by the council’s communities team and Traveller liaison officer looked at how support may need to be adapted to meet the needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community. By assessing the support already available through the network of community groups in the area, the council was able to identify any gaps and work with the Travelling community to ensure the right help was in place.

This included having plans in place for delivering food packages if urgent help was needed and translating leaflets so anyone who does not speak English as their first language knew where to turn.

From road safety education officer to reablement worker

Jenny Wright

A video filmed by a Peterborough City Council staff member shows what her experience of being redeployed has been like so far. Jenny Wright usually works as a Road Safety Education Officer, but due to current restrictions around coronavirus, she is unable to carry out her normal role, as she usually works in schools and other education settings which are currently closed for most pupils. All Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council staff who are unable to carry out their normal roles have been redeployed, and Jenny is now working as a reablement worker. Reablement care is often short term and enables people to increase their confidence and ability to live as independently as possible within their everyday environment and community network.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, the reablement service is ensuring that they help to deliver care and support to those people who need it most. Jenny said: “Working as a reablement support worker means that I’m looking after people in their own houses and really re-enabling them to gain some independence, or if not able to regain independence, then looking at packages that may be put into place to help them look after themselves in the future.”

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, cabinet member for Adult Social Care, Health and Public Health for Peterborough City Council, said: “Redeployed staff like Jenny have helped our reablement teams continue doing the vital work they do while many vulnerable people are isolating.

“I’d like to thank Jenny, other redeployed staff and all reablement workers for the brilliant work they are doing, as they are helping so many people who need it most.”

To watch the video of Jenny explaining what her redeployment experience has been like, click here.

Centre 33 continues to help young carers

Many young carers are living in families that are potentially more vulnerable during this time. As an organisation aware of this potential impact on their caring role, Centre 33 has continued to offer support to young carers throughout this pandemic.

At the end of March Centre 33 moved to delivering all its support remotely and is now offering regular telephone calls to young carers as well as keeping in contact via email, text or WhatsApp and video calls. Keeping in weekly or fortnightly contact for young carers has allowed the organisation to continue supporting their mental health and well-being, as well as advocating for them to ensure they have everything they need to access education.

The pandemic has been a worrying time for young carers, with many families shielding. Centre 33 has been supporting young carers who have seen an increase in their caring roles and working with county council services to ensure the right support is in place, including access to food and medication, and a plan is in place should a family member become unwell with the virus.

Helen Eves, senior young carers project worker, said: “Young carers have felt an increased sense of isolation during this time, and as our usual community and school-based young carers groups haven’t been able to run during this period, we have started to run these groups remotely via video calls.

“The young carers have fed back that being able to see their friends face to face has made a big difference.

“Throughout Carers Week we have been asking our young carers to share with us a creative piece that tells us about their life as a young carer. Examples of their creative work can be found on Centre 33’s social media platforms.”

 You can find out more via Centre 33’s website, Facebook page or Twitter.

Cambridgeshire Police supporting the hub

During the pandemic, six community safety officers and volunteers from Cambridgeshire Police have assisted the Co-ordination Hub by visiting more than 600 vulnerable residents across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

These visits have been an enlightening experience to them all, highlighting the range of life challenges that some of our residents face on a daily basis.

Here is what they had to say:

Clare: “To meet, help and support the most vulnerable residents in Cambridgeshire is a privilege. All agencies have pulled together and have made such a difference to those struggling to cope.”

Amanda: “I have met a wide range of residents with diverse conditions. I’ve enjoyed helping out with bit of shopping, collecting prescriptions and other small errands.”

Helen: “All visits had been welcomed with open arms and greatly appreciated.”

Sue: “It is impressive that in such times, agencies and volunteers have demonstrated working together at it’s very best to ensure the health and well-being of our residents.”

Jules: “I have received positive responses to the shielding visits and have spoken to many residents who without the support would have been in a dire situation.”

Kate: “I’ve found it very rewarding being able to help people. Knowing that there are people who genuinely care, to offer help and support, is a great comfort to many.”

The team will continue to support the safe and well checks on residents to support the work of the hub.

Scam Awareness Fortnight begins next week

Scam awareness poster

Scam Awareness Fortnight begins on Monday and this year the focus is on scams which take advantage of the uncertainty and loneliness felt by many during the Covid-19 outbreak.

During Scam Awareness Fortnight, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council will be sharing information about the types of scams which criminals are using amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Some of these include:

  • adverts of face masks or medical equipment at high prices
  • emails or texts pretending to be from the government
  • emails offering life insurance against coronavirus
  • people knocking at your door and asking for money for fake charities

The best way to protect your neighbours from being scammed is to spread the message. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 7 out of 10 (68%) of people targeted by a scam do not tell anyone about it and only around 5% of scams are reported.

Further information on coronavirus scams are available here.

You can access free downloadable resources for coronavirus and all types of scams on the resources webpage of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership (CAPASP).

You can follow us on Facebook @CAPASP19 or Twitter @CAPA5P.

For further advice on scams, please call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 11 33.

To report a scam, please call Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040.

Charity adapts services to support county’s carers

A survey launched by Caring Together has revealed the impact the pandemic has had on carers of all ages, with 78% feeling they can’t take a break from caring, 82% feeling more stressed and 77% feeling an increase in loneliness.

Caring Together has adapted its services to be sure it can continue to support carers of all ages, and the people they care for.

Caring Together has been hosting carers hubs via Zoom to ensure adult carers have the opportunity to talk with other people in their position.

The charity has also continued to offer its Listening Ear service where carers are linked with a trained volunteer who can provide them with someone to talk to via telephone.

With the pandemic leaving many carers feeling unable to take a break, Caring Together is able to offer some of those struggling a care worker who can support their cared for person and enable them to take a break. They have also been supporting carers through the Carers Emergency Fund to allow them to purchase things that can make life easier.

Miriam Martin, chief executive of Caring Together, said: “Carers were already very much in need of support before the coronavirus crisis but now they face a new set of challenges. As other people’s lives move towards normality the reality of returning to work or school will bring new issues for carers, particularly if they are shielding a vulnerable person. This will mean tackling dilemmas around health, income and education that are unique to them in their caring role. 

“During this unsettling time, we are certain of one thing, that carers and their families need our support, now more than ever. But we also know relatively small things can make a big difference to carers.” 

People can make a donation to help Caring Together’s Caring for carers emergency appeal, or volunteer to help.  

To find out about support for carers or to get involved visit www.caringtogether.org/carers-week.