Watch out for scams, thanks to volunteers & local coronavirus advice

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Message from the Mayor

Update on our local response to coronavirus 

I hope you are all keeping safe and well. I wanted to give you an update on a few of the many things happening locally to help support and protect residents, especially those that are vulnerable as a result of the current circumstances.

Support for residents

  • Food packages are currently being prepared by our staff and volunteers in the borough. The first of the supplies arrived this morning and these will soon be delivered to residents who are vulnerable and cannot leave home at this time. We are also offering support to residents who may need it as a result of self-isolation.
  • We have established a phoneline to support residents that have been identified as being extremely vulnerable and at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are vulnerable and need support, you can call us on 020 7364 3030.
  • Council staff continue to work hard to deliver our vital services and respond to the situation as it evolves each day. From parks staff, enforcement officers, social care workers, teachers and many others, all of our efforts are focused on running services our residents need at this time and offering support in new ways. We are regularly publishing updates on our website, which includes advice on council tax, benefits, housing as well as service changes.  

Please be assured we continue to work closely with Public Health England, the NHS, the police and a wide range of other organisations to respond to the coronavirus crisis. Running our critical services and supporting and protecting residents remains our priority.

Update on volunteering

We’re extremely thankful to the many residents who have registered to help others who are affected by coronavirus through the Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets.

The Volunteer Centre is now advertising its first wave of volunteering roles within local voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations. Roles currently being advertised include drivers, trained chefs, shopping delivery, telephone befriending and supporting survivors of domestic violence and modern slavery living in supported accommodation. 

If you're interested in joining the volunteers who have already come forward, please sign up with the Volunteer Centre on their website. Do check back in the coming days and weeks too, as more roles will be added. 

Staying at home

My sincere thank you to all of you who are staying home and only leaving the house when it is absolutely necessary. You are helping to protect yourself, others and all the essential workers who do need to venture out to respond to this crisis, such as NHS staff, social workers, street cleaners, supermarket staff and many others. I know you all join me in being hugely grateful to everyone involved in keeping our critical services running.

If you need a reminder about the four possible acceptable reasons to leave your home, please visit the NHS website. I know it's difficult - but it's our duty to follow the guidance.

Do remember to stay connected with your family and friends as much as you can through video calls and social media. You can also have a look at the practical advice the NHS has shared to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing at this challenging time. 

We will continue to update you on the local response to coronavirus as and when we can, but in the meantime please read on for more updates and important advice.

Stay safe, 

Mayor John Biggs

Adult social care

Flexibility for residents who receive care packages

We are working with partners organisations, including PeoplePlus, REAL and the NHS, to ensure that people with a direct payment and/or a personal health budget continue to be supported during these challenging times. These partnerships have allowed us to respond quickly and make changes where needed. These include:

  • Increasing all direct payments by 10 per cent to allow for a contingency budget.
  • Additional flexibility to amend support packages if this is required and meets the person’s needs. This includes the option to employ family members where appropriate.
  • Support to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to direct payment recipients.

Find out more >

Phone scam

Reminder: please watch out for scams 

A reminder that government, police, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and others are urging the public to be aware that criminals are using coronavirus to scam people.

Some websites, emails or phone numbers can look like they’re part of an official government service - but they can be fake. If you're unsure, please do not respond.

Nearly a third of all fraud is committed over the phone, and so the Met Police is asking people to read its booklet of phone scams to raise awareness of the different ways scams can be carried out over the phone.   

Animation for children

Coronavirus: talking to children and resources for parents

We have published a section on our website that brings together a range of great resources for parents, carers and children while we all spend time at home. This includes content from the BBC, the Department for Education, the NHS, Sport England, the NSPCC and more.

A new addition to the page is a simple and friendly animation for children from the Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust. It aims to help children understand what coronavirus is, the importance of hand washing and why we need to stop the virus spreading. 

Access resources >

Park in Tower Hamlets

Government guidance on access to green spaces

The government has released new guidance on access to green space, which complements the existing guidance on social distancing.

In addition to only leaving your home when necessary – you must:

  • Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.
  • You should only go outside alone or with members of your own household.
  • Always keep at least two metres (six feet) apart from anyone outside your household.
  • Gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this.
  • Take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors.

Parks in Tower Hamlets currently remain open, except for Victoria Park.

Don't forget, all of our outdoor gyms, playground equipment and skate parks across the borough are closed and must not be used. To help make this clear, we've added signage and wrapped the facilities where possible. Coronavirus can live on hard surfaces for three days and can be spread by people who have no symptoms. These measures really are to help protect you and the health of others.

Met Police

Update on 101 calls

Calls to 101, the number that you can use to report non-emergency issues to police, will be free for the public from today.

Previously, callers to the 101 number were connected to their local police force, or a force of their choice, and charged 15p a time.

The vast majority of people will be able to use the service free of charge from today (1 April 2020). However, until 1 July there remains a chance that users of small operators will be charged for using the 101 service. The government will be urging those providers to refund their customers. 

Find out more > 

Stay at home image

Staying home really does save lives

Finally, another reminder that we all have a responsibility to play our part in helping to stop the spread of the virus.

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home).
  • If you go out, stay two metres (six feet) away from other people at all times.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Do not meet others, even friends or family.

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

Of course, while the vast majority of us must stay at home and avoid social contact and unnecessary travel, there are key workers from a range of sectors in Tower Hamlets, including the NHS and our very own council staff, who are venturing out to help others get through this incredibly challenging time. We are continually thinking about our colleagues and partners and are truly grateful for their ongoing efforts to deliver vital services. 

Find out more >

Coronavirus: useful links

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