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Local response to Coronavirus Emergency: Support for Vulnerable Residents Living in Cannock Chase District

Tue 28 Apr 2020

There is a wide range of support available to local people – much of this within the voluntary and community sector, with national and local public sector support being implemented alongside this. 

The established Cannock and Rugeley foodbanks have been very busy. There has been extensive small, locally based and individual neighbourhood support to family, friends and neighbours. Cannock Chase is also benefitting from the establishment of a comprehensive (and growing) range of services offered from volunteers working through the Chase Coronavirus Support Network (CCSN).

NHS Shielding

The national NHS “shielding” scheme is aimed at those with the most acute underlying conditions and people undergoing treatment that compromises their immune systems. 

NHS and individual GPs have identified these people – nationally there are 1.5 million and in Staffordshire there are 20,000. We are getting data on how many people are in this category in Cannock Chase District. 

People in this group have been written to (many more than once) and had emails and text messages to encourage them to register for support. If they register they are able to request a delivery of a weekly food parcel to their home if they are unable to access food through family, friends and so on. 

The deliveries continue for the 12 week isolation period (to late June) and are being undertaken by national food distribution companies. 

Staffordshire County Council

Staffordshire County Council have data on the NHS Shielding people and are sent daily lists of people who have registered, and whether they have requested food parcels. 

The County Council contact these people to check if they have sufficient food to last them until their first NHS parcel arrives. If not, they will provide a parcel sufficient for one week. 

The NHS parcels have standard contents and are not tailored in any way. People who are unable to use any of the contents due to allergies, dietary or cultural issues, are advised to contact their local authority. Any parcels that have been delivered across the District are referred to the County Council who will then arrange for suitable supplementary goods to be supplied for the 12 week period.

Staffordshire County Council’s helpline also responds to other (non-NHS) vulnerable people who are self isolating – assessing needs and, if necessary, providing a food parcel to last one week. These cases are then referred to District and Borough Councils to pick up for further support.

Cannock Chase Community Vulnerability Hub – (led by the Council)

In Cannock Chase we have established a local Hub. This has a number of functions.

1.    Statutory Response

As Cannock Chase Council has specific responsibilities for its housing tenants, homeless people and rough sleepers, at an early stage of the emergency response, we have been proactively contacting those most vulnerable tenants known to us, by telephoning and visiting them, providing food and other essentials. 

We are providing similar support to our homeless individuals and families and have secured accommodation for local rough sleepers - as directed by government. We are providing food and other essentials for these most vulnerable people in the District. 

Funding and food is being provided by the County Council to help with this.

2.    Early Stage support

We have set up a response system for those people who contact us asking for support, or are referred to us by the County Council, where they are self isolating and don’t have support from family and friends. Cases are assessed on an individual basis so they can be advised where to get help. Key players in the local response are our voluntary and community organisations.

The Managing Director of Cannock Chase Council chairs a weekly teleconference with Support Staffordshire, Chase Coronavirus Support Network (CCSN) and the local foodbanks for them to raise issues and to address concerns. Examples of the actions taken through the local VCS are set out below.

Working in partnership with Chase Coronavirus Support Network

Those able to pay for their shopping or in need of pharmacy or social support, such as a telephone call, are referred to the Chase Coronavirus Support Network (CCSN), whose volunteers are able to assist; CCSN has secured a large number of volunteers. Some are trained to do pharmacy collections and deliveries and the network has links to all pharmacies in the District. Recently, volunteer staff from Inspiring healthy lifestyles, our leisure provider, have been added to the volunteer capacity of CCSN.

Working in partnership with local foodbanks

Those who don’t have money – for example if they are waiting for decisions on Universal Credit, or have simply run out of money – are referred to the local foodbanks in Cannock and Rugeley. These have seen a significant increase in demand for their services. Deliveries to homes are being made. Recently the Council has agreed to provide transport for bulk donation deliveries for the Cannock Foodbank.

Working with other partner groups across the District

If these are not suitable solutions, the hub has a limited stock of supplies which can be delivered to people. Our hub is here to complement the services already being provided by other organisations.

Other organisations are also offering specialist support, or work with particular groups and we will refer people to these where that is appropriate. These organisations are identified by Support Staffordshire.

Proactive response

In order for support to reach local people likely to be most in need, we have looked through information we have on our most vulnerable local people. We have written to them to ask if they need any assistance. We have identified about 2,800 local households in these circumstances. Those that get back to us are being assessed and the appropriate support provided as highlighted above.

Further work is being undertaken to identify other local vulnerable people and referrals can be made using the Council’s Contact Centre 01543 462621 or via email to CV19Public@cannockchasedc.gov.uk