Norfolk councils asked to support thousands of high risk people every day, says city council chief executive
PUBLISHED: 11:44 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:44 03 April 2020
Norwich City Council
Norfolk councils and volunteers are being asked to offer support to thousands of high risk people every day, say those coordinating the county-wide response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The chief executive of Norwich City Council has said measures will be “ramped up” over the coming days to deal with the high volume of requests for support.
Local authorities have stepped in to provide immediate support to the 1.5m people nationwide who have been told to stay at home for 12 weeks to be ‘shielded’, due to being at high-risk for the disease while the centralised government system for food parcel is set up.
The pledge came as:
• Norfolk councils are sent details of around 1,000 people who need support every day,
• Local authorities are already supporting around 4,000 people who are in high-risk groups,
• Numbers of those wanting to volunteer have sky-rocketed, with over 1,000 people keen to help out,
• And almost two dozen city council staff are redirected from corporate and events jobs to help with the county’s relief efforts.
Stephen Evans, who took on the top job at city hall in January, said “new services [had been] set up from scratch in a few days” and pledged: “We’re the safety net and we’re trying to make sure no one slips through it.”
Relief efforts have followed the government’s instruction to those with underlying conditions, who are undergoing cancer treatments or have higher-risk pregnancies.
But the council has widened its net and contacted every household in Norfolk to offer support.
The Norfolk Resilience Forum (NRF) which is working with the city and district councils is coordinating the efforts.
“We’ve made over 300 calls and we’re going to ramp up our efforts,” Mr Evans added.
“Some people need social care support - it’s not just food parcels.
“Local government and councils will be stepping in where needed - whether someone needs food given to them, or just someone to do their shopping for them.”
It comes just days after Trevor Holden, managing director of Broadland and South Norfolk councils, stressed that anyone who needed help should not hesitate to call the helpline.
Mr Holden, who is coordinating the NRF’s response, said: “We’re in the process of writing to everyone who lives in the county.
“In the letter is the helpline - 0344 800 8020 - please call and we will get help to you.”
‘It’s nice to be able to do something’ - the volunteers stepping in to help
Ted Leggett, 40, from Trowse, has been volunteering with Norwich City Council’s food and emergency medicine delivery team.
Mr Leggett, who normally works in the council’s events team, said it felt good to know he was making a positive impact during the pandemic.
He said volunteers had been gathering food from supermarkets and wholesalers to prepare boxes which were then delivered to the most vulnerable or those who were unable to go out.
He said: “Every single person that we’ve been to has been hugely grateful.”
Mr Leggett said aside from food packages volunteers had also been collecting and delivering essential medicines to those who needed it.
“It’s been a really positive experience for all the staff, people are happy to be doing something this is our way of supporting the NHS an lessening the burden on them.
“It’s just nice to be able to do something to help,” he said.