Highlights from the Hubs update - Friday, 3 July 2020

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

banner 2


AC new pic

Hello from the Hubs!

We’ve been busy this week supporting our colleagues in Public Health to make sure we can respond quickly and effectively should there be any local outbreaks of COVID-19 across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We have so many opportunities to keep reminding everyone of the need to follow the national guidelines on social distancing, especially important from this weekend as bars and restaurants, as well as other services, slowly begin to open. Our Hubs will play a vital role in:

  • Making sure key Public Health messages are delivered to our whole population, as well as to businesses and visitors
  • Supporting anyone that needs to self-isolate, if they need that support, if they’re contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service
  • Working alongside communities that might become affected by local outbreaks

Content table

We have strong arrangements in place to make sure that if we do see an increase in cases, we can respond quickly and decisively. And to help us remind everyone of the need to ‘keep caring’, look out next week for a new communications campaign that will do just that!

For our residents who have been shielding for the last 3 months or more, they can start to slowly ease their restrictions from Monday (6th July) – further details are in this week’s edition.  

And, as we start to look ahead at how we can build on the work we’ve been doing here in the countywide Hub for the future, we have to say goodbye to some of the staff who have been redeployed with us to support our work with our shielded residents. As more and more council services begin to reopen, they need to return to their substantive jobs – without exception though, they have been brilliant and we couldn’t have done it without them!

Take care everyone, and stay safe.

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

Library staff bid farewell to the hub

Hundreds of council staff from across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have been redeployed in the past three months to support the work of the Countywide Co-ordination Hub and other frontline services.

Those staff have performed crucial roles to support residents who are shielding and have been most affected by the lockdown measures, including delivering food parcels, answering calls and emails from people asking for help and in many other ways.

County council library staff have played a central role as both case managers and case officers providing vital support to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Outside of the hub, the library service was proactive in making a contribution – colleagues in the Mobile Library Service played a vital role working with Cambridge City Council in delivering and distributing meals to homeless people as well as supporting other basic necessities by providing clean clothing and washing kits.

Other library staff were assigned as community outreach officers and were available to do chores and errands for people unable to leave their homes. 

And staff across both councils were redeployed to support colleagues in Adult Social Care to help people stay safe and independent in their own homes.

Many of those staff are now returning to their substantive posts, with libraries in particular beginning to reopen from next week in Cambridgeshire (Peterborough libraries will begin to reopen at a later date).

Shelley Kane, area library manager for Huntingdon, Yaxley and Sawtry libraries, said: “Over the last few weeks I have spoken to a variety of people from all walks of life, sometimes being the regular voice down the phone ensuring they were okay, to more complex cases where I needed to provide further support and assistance. I feel the work I have done has been important, particularly for those who have needed support; I am pleased and proud, to have been able to get help for those who have needed it, in such uncertain times.”

Julie Kisby, district library manager for Huntingdonshire, said: “The calls to residents have at times been distressing due to individual situations but at many times rewarding and we have all experienced a lot of appreciation from residents. In fact, the very first call I took was from a resident in a distressing family situation who thanked me profusely for being there to take her call, I found this very humbling and gave me a real appreciation of my own situation.

“I’m looking forward to going back to my substantive role as a district library manager and have been busy preparing for a “new normal” in libraries. In many ways I will miss my new colleagues and work in the hub and am proud to have been able to make a small contribution to this work.”

Liz Graham, district library assistant for St Neots, said: “Working as a case officer in the Co-ordination Hub has been an interesting and at times challenging role.  I have had the privilege to speak to so many different people, referring for support if needed or sometimes just offering a friendly reassuring voice in these uncertain times.  

“It’s great that Cambridgeshire’s libraries are slowly beginning to re-open, and even if our service is reduced, it will be welcome by so many.  I’m looking forward to getting back to my job!”    

Following government guidance, Cambridgeshire County Council is starting a phased re-opening of library services from Monday, in line with the latest health and safety guidelines.

The council’s nine major libraries – Cambridge Central, Huntingdon, St Ives, St Neots, Bar Hill, Cambourne, Ely, March and Wisbech – will be re-opening from next week; for opening times visit here.

All remaining libraries will open from 3 August for 2 days per week and the council will continue to review the situation.

For more information about library services, visit here.

Changes for shielded group from next week

From Monday people who are shielding will be able to meet in groups of up to six people from outside their household as long as they are outdoors and social distancing.

People who live alone (or are a lone adult with dependent children under 18), will also be able to form a support bubble with another household.

At all times people should maintain social distancing and should not share items such as cups and plates.

The changes were announced by the Government last week, along with the pausing of the shielding programme from 1 August. The Countywide hub is here to support members of our shielded community at this time and we want to reassure them that help is available to begin the initial transition from shielding starting July 6th.

Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said:  “It is really important that even with the gradual relaxing of the guidance for people who are shielding, they continue to keep a safe 2m distance from anyone not in their household. 

“Also, try not to share items such as cups and plates if you are attending a barbecue.

“Cases of the virus have reduced but it is still really important at this time for people who are shielding to exercise caution and follow the rules.”

The Countywide Coordination Hub is supporting members of the shielded community and is supporting people to transition out of shielding if they need that support.

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

“We know that the update from Government relating to the pausing of the shielding programme will be met with both excitement and anxiety.

“For many people Monday will be a day of celebration when they can spend time, at a distance, with friends and family who they may not have seen face to face for months.

“But we also know there will be many people who will feel anxious about the relaxing of the guidance and will need help and support to transition out of shielding and to move towards a new way of life, which of course will still include social distancing. For those people, the Countywide Hub will be there to provide that support. In addition, NHS volunteer responders will continue to offer support after the 31 July to those who need it, including collecting and delivering food and medicines.

“In addition, we will be keeping a record of people who are extremely clinically vulnerable in case the R rate starts to increase and there is a need for people to shield once again.

“If you need support and you don't have friends, family or neighbours to help you, please visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/coronavirus or www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/coronavirus or call 0345 045 5219.”

County council and British Red Cross extend partnership

Red cross Logo

When lockdown began the British Red Cross assisted the Countywide Hub with the distribution of food parcels. Together they have distributed 2,500 food parcels to 900 households and 4,500 people.

But as the weeks went on it became clear that the British Red Cross (BRC) could support in another important way, by helping to combat mental health issues and crucially loneliness, fear and isolation.

BRC offered to provide an additional service in the form of befriending people who were feeling vulnerable and isolated.

The Hub and BRC quickly developed a virtual telephone service which not only gave a much needed communication lifeline to people and ensured they had someone to speak with, but also allowed trained BRC staff and volunteers to ask questions to ensure the person was receiving all the help they required.

Between them they could identify any areas of concern and then refer the concerns back into the hub to be solved or referred on to other Red Cross colleagues or other charities to provide support.

Currently 700 people have been contacted by the Red Cross volunteers, with over 1,054 calls made to date and over 550 people confirming they would like regular calls from the volunteers.

Emily Forbes, a senior emergency response officer, said: “This project has been invaluable in connecting isolated shielding people with British Red Cross volunteers and by using a new digital platform, has enabled over 100 volunteers from around the country to reach out and participate in the befriending project.

“It has allowed the volunteers, some of whom are shielding themselves, to contribute to the Covid response, and the team has overwhelmingly fed back that they find the calls to be an uplifting experience that has a real impact on the lives of the people they are calling.

“There have been cases where additional and sometimes urgent support has been needed and through teamwork with the council these have been resolved quickly to ensure people receive the help they need.”

Rebecca Pentelow from the Co-ordination Hub said: “As the pandemic has progressed we’ve had to become very agile to be able to meet the needs of people who are shielding and it quickly became apparent that communication and contact was a key area.

“The befriending service has been a lifeline for many by offering them someone to talk to when they feel isolated. We have been able to learn about and solve issues for our community that perhaps we wouldn’t have been aware of without the befrienders.

“We are currently working with BRC to see how we can use this service moving forward to support people who are shielding to transition back to ‘normal’ life.”

Spotlight on our staff...


Debbie Price is working as a shielded case manager in the Countywide Hub which involves supporting people who have been identified as being at the highest risk if they contract coronavirus. She was redeployed into the team from her role as the district library manager for East Cambs and Fenland.

“It must be very scary to be told you are extremely vulnerable when the world is facing a pandemic. So vulnerable that you have to hide at home for months and it’s not safe to go out. It is the people in this situation that we have been reaching out to, offering help, advice, regular contact and a human voice.

“At the beginning I had no idea of what working with the hub would be like and where the work would take me, but I was very happy to be redeployed into this critical work.

“I started off by having a list of shielding people to call. I had a script, but it still felt quite nerve racking making those early calls. You never know what people are going to ask you or how they will react - you just hope you get it right.

“Of course, they were actually kind and friendly and I felt privileged to be able to tell them about what help was available in their locality or from government. I remember callers telling me they wished they were the ones helping others instead of needing help themselves.

“Alongside this I was doing stints on the helpline number. You wait by your laptop for calls and use your script to give people the right advice and signposting, again quite nerve racking until you have a few under your belt. After a while, the scale of the task was so great that a bespoke online recording system was created. We left spreadsheets behind and were trained in these new systems. We were organised into district teams and I became a team manager. I had nine case officers making calls to support and all of them were newly redeployed into this new world. They were all amazing and we relished the challenge. We met daily on skype to compare notes and to keep updated.

"I’ve learned how challenging some people have it in life. All of us felt fortunate that our lives were so easy in comparison. I’ve made friends across the authority and seen how a sense of public service is there in all departments. I’ve learned to adapt and develop solutions on the hoof with colleagues, little things like collating and sharing queries when we were in information overload or chatting online during a call handling shift to shore up each other’s knowledge and confidence. I’ve learned how isolation and illness don’t stop on weekends and Bank Holidays. I’ve learned that having someone call you rather than needing to do it yourself, can sometimes be just what someone needs."

Local Outbreak Control plan launched

As part of the Government’s national strategy to manage and control the pandemic, every area in England needs to develop its own Local Outbreak Control Plan for COVID-19.

In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough our plan - launched this week - builds on tried and tested existing plans for controlling other infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

It relies on working closely with our local communities to reduce the risk of people contracting the disease in the first place by following clear public health messages, but if they do to establish systems so new cases can be identified quickly and reduce the likelihood of them spreading.

Where clusters of new COVID-19 cases arise our plan will make sure that we identify them swiftly, and working with Public Health England Health Protection Team, put measures in place to control them, so we can support the continued lifting of lockdown restrictions and the continued return to normal life.

You can see the plan and lots of other helpful information explaining the ‘test and trace’ process here. on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough websites.