Highlights from the Hubs update - Friday, 17 July

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Matt oliver

With two weeks remaining before the pause of the national shielding programme the county hub feels as active as ever this week. As we scale down the contact to the 7,653 residents who asked for regular support, our remaining redeployed case officers and managers continue to help those most vulnerable to make sure they transition safely in to alternative arrangements.

As I write this introduction our hub operational lead Nikitta Vanterpool is on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Breakfast Show talking about why it is important for people to register as shielding by the end of the day enabling them to access essential help and support, as well as priority supermarket slots. You can also here from Jim one of the 19 thousand shielded resident who registered for support from the county hub.

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bbc radio cambs logo

(listen back here https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_cambridge, the interview starts at 01hr 7mins)

As well as managing the transition of shielding support we continue to work hand in hand with our public health partners to implement the countywide outbreak control plan. This week we have reaffirmed our commitment to help those who need it to self-isolate by making the decision to retain the food warehouse at Alconbury for the foreseeable future as well as supporting local areas with funding to meet identified residents basic needs.

Highlighted in this edition is the importance of the “KEEP CARING” campaign. Although life is moving back to some sort of normal there are obvious indications of the challenges which we will face in the future to manage the virus. Everyone has a part to play and we would value your support to keep the spreading those public health messages far and wide!

Take Care and Stay Safe

Matt Oliver

Head of Think Communities Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Preparing the shielded community for the new normal

Staff at the Countywide Hub who are in regular conversations with the shielded community have been undergoing training to ensure they are offering the best support possible in the run up to the pausing of the national shielding programme on 31 July.

The training has focused on the different mindsets towards the shielding programme pausing and recognising that whilst many people are ready to get out and about; others need additional support within their communities and a few will need continued support. Identifying who falls into which category has been key so conversations can be tailored to their needs. 

Case officers are now working with their residents to provide support and a key focus is around ensuring people are able to access prescriptions and food, plus continuing to support with general wellbeing. Ensuring people are registered by today (Friday) in order to receive priority shopping times and vouchers has been essential. 

shielding infographic

Additionally there is a lot of bespoke communication work happening, including the development of a video detailing what to expect when you go back out into your community and how shops such as supermarkets are now operating and what precautions they have in place for us all such as hand sanitisers. The video is combined with a leaflet of general information and advice. 

Nikitta Vanterpool, operational lead for the Countywide Hub, said: “We know this might be a worrying time for some people who are shielding so we are doing all that we can to ease people’s concerns. And ensuring people continue to have support after the 31 July remains a priority.

“Case officers are already reporting this week that they have seen an increase in the number of people being supported by their own immediate communities which is a positive step forward for transition.

“The hub continues to see a reduction in the number of local and national food deliveries which again is encouraging as it shows that people are starting to make their own arrangements.

“We are working in collaboration with voluntary sector partners to ensure those that need it continue to receive support.” 

NHS volunteer responders will continue to offer support after 31 July to those who need it, including collecting and delivering food and medicines. 

The hub 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.

Website for shielded community proves a hit

open doors website

An interactive website launched across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for people who are shielding to help them combat loneliness during lockdown has so far been accessed by more than 6,000 people.   

In the past eight weeks, 500 people have enrolled onto courses, 200 people have had craft packs delivered and more than 500 scrubs bags have been made and donated to regional care homes and the NHS.   

The website, launched by the Countywide Coordination Hub, is a collaboration between Cambridgeshire Skills, City College Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Library Service.    

It has offered people who are shielding the chance to learn and discover new things and has been a great way to keep the many minds active and to support overall wellbeing. 

The website allows residents to:- 

  • Take a virtual tour of museums such as the Natural History Museum
  • Learn a new craft, such as how to sew scrub bags to donate to the NHS,
  • Learn new skills for work (or even a career change),
  • Access our great Library resources through Libraries.Live
  • Share their own experiences of lockdown through our Life in Lockdown Campaign.

Pat Carrington, who led the initiative, said: “The Open New Doors website was designed specifically to meet the needs of our shielded community and it really has been an essential source for many.    

“It has helped give our community a sense of purpose and kept them busy through engaging in an extensive range of activities and learning a range of new skills.” 

The website also offers support to families of pre-school children to help their children prepare to start school in September. Activities are aimed at creating quality family time as well as ensuring children have a good skill set ready to start school.

Residents who are shielding and able to access the website are given login details. It is not accessible to the wider public.

Spotlight on our staff...

Emily Sanderson

Emily Sanderson has been supporting the hub since the very beginning. Here she talks about her role and how rewarding she has found the experience.

“I’ve been with the hub since before it officially existed. I came to Stanton House on 18 March looking to support in any way I could and have not looked back since!

“Three of us from the Transformation Team who had been working on community-based projects came to support the development of the hub and it quickly became apparent that data analysis and digital skills would have to play a significant role in allowing the hub to meet the various demands that were coming its way.

"My role is to manage the data flows in and out of the hub and design the processes and systems that we use on a daily basis to support that. I work very closely all of the different aspects of the hub and particularly with Kat and Panos from LGSS Digital to develop and iterate the solutions that we need.

“The whole experience has been an amazing opportunity and a huge learning curve for me. One of the most incredible aspects was the pace that we’re working at. I remember 9am on Wednesday being given the challenge of having the hub up and running by the end of the week – getting a whole service running from scratch in three days flat was certainly a massive challenge but we managed it somehow!

“We’ve learnt that there are some key things that enable the speed and type of approach we’ve managed:

  • A group of people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in
  • Clear unified purpose and aim
  • Good accessible leadership who are willing to take risks
  • A clear understanding of what the essential offer is to allow for quick prioritisation
  • Willingness to change and update quickly in response to changing circumstances

"Now the National Shielding Programme is due to go on pause, we’re focusing a lot on how we can transition into the pause while remaining ready to step operations back up if needed. We’re also looking at what support the hub network can offer to places where there have been local outbreaks.

"I’m incredibly proud of the work that we’ve done and continue to do as well as the way we have done that work together."

We need your help!

Keep Caring

Residents across the county are being urged to help share important public health messages with their friends, family and neighbours to reduce rates of community transmission of coronavirus, keep people safe and to avoid a devastating second wave of the virus.

Even though the Government is reducing the lockdown measures and life is returning to normal in many ways, people are still at risk and coronavirus has most certainly not gone away.

As a result, people are being called upon to spread vital information to their friends, family and neighbours.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council have produced a toolkit which suggests ways people can help to share important messages, in particular what constitutes a household, the need to social distance, and how many households can meet at any one time. You can access the tool kit here.

Christine Birchall, head of communications for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said: “Please do what you can to share these messages – in doing so you will be playing your part in helping our communities and our country recover from the impact of the coronavirus, by reducing its spread.

“Good communications with our residents is a really important part of our work to reduce the spread of the virus and avoid a second peak.

“Please play your part and feel proud that you have kept people safe and helped our city to recover from coronavirus.”

The city and county councils have produced lots of materials that people can use through their own channels, including a number of videos and translations in more than 15 different languages. To find out more visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk or www.Peterborough.gov.uk or follow either council on Twitter or Facebook.

Disability Sport: Pilates in place of football


A ‘Stay Active’ campaign to encourage people with disabilities to move more and try new ways of being active, whether at home or when going outside for exercise, launched this week.

Many of us have found ourselves spending increased amounts of time at home and sitting down more than usual since the coronavirus pandemic started. Lockdown has made it hard for people to be as active as normal and people with a disability may have felt even more isolated, and been less active, during this time.

Protecting residents’ physical and mental health is one of Cambridgeshire County Council’s and Peterborough City Council’s highest priorities since the outbreak of COVID-19, and the Stay Active campaign raises awareness of the many ways people with a disability can continue to enjoy an active lifestyle during lockdown, by adapting activities or a change in sporting routines.

The campaign ties in the Activity Alliance ‘at home’ programme - a charity working to make active lives possible with a vision that disabled people are active for life.

Living Sport, the Active Partnership for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has a dedicated web page with links and advice to inspire people to adapt their current activities and sports to maintain their physical activity or find new opportunities to keep moving whilst in and around the house.

Taking part in any form of physical activity can help to manage complications by improving muscle stamina and strength, helping control joint swelling, and reducing stress and pain.

Regular physical activity can also help to reduce high blood pressure, manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers – all conditions that can increase susceptibility to COVID-19. It is also good for our mental health.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of depression, cognitive decline and helps to lift our overall feelings. Being active also helps to give days a routine and can be a way to stay in contact with family and friends.

It may be surprising how much the benefits of trying something new can help improve day to day routines.

Find out more about getting or staying active during COVID-19 on the Living Sport webpage.