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        Community advice and support

        Information and guidance for residents during the current Coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic

        Protecting the most vulnerable

        We have set up a dedicated helpline for residents who are vulnerable and are self-isolating or social shielding in line with NHS Advice.

        This is to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community, who are unable to go outside to buy supplies, are helped to get the things they need.

        The helpline is for people who don’t have friends or family around to assist them. If you are in this position please complete our online form or call 01843 577 330.

        The helpline is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. A dedicated team of people are taking calls, handling requests and connecting callers with the relevant organisations or council services that are in place to provide support for vulnerable people at this time.

        All other general enquiries must still be directed to the main switchboard number: 01843 577 000

        Frequently Asked Questions

        To make it easier for you to find quick answers to some of the questions you may have, we have provided some Frequently Asked Questions below. We will update these when new information is received. Last updated – 30 June 2020

        Who are the vulnerable people?

        While everyone is at risk of contracting COVID-19, some people are at an increased or “higher risk” due to underlying health conditions and then there are those who are “extremely vulnerable” due to their current health and have been identified by the NHS as being in need of “shielding” or extra protection. The extremely vulnerable group, or those who are “shielded”, are receiving support from central government.

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        Who is categorised as being “extremely vulnerable” or “shielded”?

        The government has issued specific advice to people who are extremely vulnerable and at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition. Specific details of who is affected can be found on the Gov.uk website.

        If you have been written to you are strongly advised to stay at home at all times for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. Avoid going out for food and medicine. Ask a friend, neighbour or family member to bring your supplies where possible.

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        Who is categorised as being at “higher risk”?

        The people identified as being at a higher risk from coronavirus includes people who are 70 or over, pregnant or are any age but have a condition that may increase their risk. Specific details of the conditions can be found on the Gov.uk website.

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        If someone does not fall into these groups can they still get help from the local council?

        As the community lead we are connecting people in need with the appropriate specialist organisations who are providing support on the ground,

        Anyone that is self-isolating or social distancing due to coronavirus symptoms, underlying health conditions or because they have been identified as vulnerable, and who does not have friends, family or neighbours they can call on should contact us for help.

        To help us to assist you as quickly as we can, we would encourage you to complete our online form which asks a number of important questions that will help us to put people in contact with the organisation most suited to their needs. Anyone needing help urgently (within 48 hours) should call our telephone helpline – 01843 577 330. There are people taking calls 5 days a week – from 9am to 5pm

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        How does someone get help from central government if they are extremely vulnerable but haven’t been contacted by the NHS?

        If you have one or more of the health conditions that mean you are extremely vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus and haven’t been contacted by the NHS or had a letter, please call your GP or hospital doctor for advice. You can also register yourself, or on someone’s behalf using this Gov.uk service.

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        What help is there for the people in “higher risk” and “extremely vulnerable” groups?

        Anyone affected by coronavirus that does not have a support network of family, friends or neighbours should contact us using our online form or our helpline and we will pass their details onto a local organisation that can assist. This could be anything from doing grocery shopping to simply calling for a chat so that people don’t feel isolated.

        People who fall into the “extremely vulnerable” group are also receiving additional assistance coordinated directly by central government with food and other essentials.

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        What is Thanet District Council doing to help people in need?

        Thanet District Council’s Community Support Team is leading the response for our most vulnerable residents. Working in partnership with a wide range of specialist organisations, the team is responsible for coordinating the support requested by people without family, friends or neighbours to help them. We have set up a dedicated helpline open for calls 7 days a week, manned by council staff that have been redeployed from other work. Our Multi-agency Task Force has stepped in and delivered food parcels to people ahead of government’s plans coming into play. As well as helping those who contact us directly, we are using local and government data to identify where our most vulnerable residents are, matching them to volunteer agencies and groups that are providing support on the ground locally. We are also monitoring the supply chain and highlighting any issues to the Kent-wide emergency planning group, the Kent Resilience Forum, which we are a part of along with all the other local councils in the county. This command chain provides a direct link into Central Government.

        People that need our help can complete our online form which asks a number of specific questions that then helps us to put them in contact with the organisation most suited to their needs. Anyone needing help urgently (within 48 hours) should call our telephone helpline. 01843 577 330. There are people taking calls  Monday to Friday – from 9am to 5pm.

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        What has been done to understand who exactly needs help, are people falling through the cracks?

        As an organisation we have a well established Safer Neighbourhoods team that includes staff dedicated to working within all the communities in Thanet particularly those which may be seen as harder to reach. Through our liaison with the NHS, local community groups, individual community leaders and local councillors as well as intelligence from our Multi-agency Task Force officers, we are already aware of some of the most vulnerable residents who require help. The coronavirus means that people who were previously managing may now need additional support. Thanet District Council will be contacting all households to ensure all vulnerable people are aware of the COVID 19 helpline.

        However we also need your help. If you or someone you know is in the higher risk group and is therefore taking extra precautions, or is self-isolating and cannot get out then please tell us. We want to ensure that we are aware of everyone who needs help so that we can share their details with our partners who are out in the community providing the assistance people need. We expect that this situation will continue to be fast moving and rely on you to highlight those individuals who may need help now that haven’t previously.

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        Which organisations are you partnering with to make sure that everyone who needs help gets it?

        We are working with a number of established local voluntary organisations charities and community groups to deliver the help that people need. We are acting as the lead contact for residents who need support – matching them up with the services that can best provide assistance for them at this time.

        The organisations we are working with include Global Generation Church, Salvation Army, Age UK, Our Kitchen, Parish & Town Councils across the district, NHS volunteers and Connect Well East Kent as well as a number of other organisations.

        With these organisations we are able to provide assistance with food shopping (including collection of click and collect shopping), prescription collections, access to a paid for hot meal delivery service and refer residents for urgent help from TDC’s Community Safety Unit and Multi-Agency Task Force. In some situations we can arrange for an emergency food parcel to be delivered too. We are also giving general advice for residents as well as putting people in touch with local befriending services.

        Every caller’s need is different, and we work regularly with NHS colleagues to help discharging patients and people with complex medical needs as well as the little things like ensuring that a tortoise gets fed correctly and people’s microwave clocks are reset when they stop working. The majority of our calls are from people who are concerned about having enough food or picking up their prescriptions

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        How do I make a report about someone I am concerned about?

        If you are concerned about someone you can ask them to complete our online form which asks a number of important questions that will help us to put people in contact with the organisation most suited to their needs. If your concern is for someone needing help urgently (within 48 hours) you should ask them to call our telephone helpline. 01843 577 330. There are people taking calls Monday to Friday – from 9am to 5pm. If they are unable to do so, please contact us by phone or email communitysupport@thanet.gov.uk.

        This mailbox is monitored from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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        How quickly is help available?

        When we receive a call to the helpline we gather as much information as possible about the caller and the needs they have. We aim to identify the most appropriate organisation to share that information with and pass all the details on. We use the information we are given by the caller to understand how quickly help is needed. The aim is for the assigned organisation to make contact within 48 hours but it depends on the urgency of the call.

        Because of the increasing number of people that will need help in the future we are prioritising callers who need help with food etc. imminently. We would like to urge anyone who is registering as a vulnerable person and anticipates that they will need help in the coming weeks, to use our online form if possible.

        If someone is experiencing a medical or health emergency they should call 111 or 999.

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        What about homeless people? How are they being helped?

        Our dedicated rough sleeper support team – RISE – has worked hard and quickly found accommodation options for all the rough sleepers known to us. A large number have accepted the offer of somewhere to stay and have already moved in. We do still have some people who, despite being offered accommodation, have chosen not to accept it at this time. We’ll continue to stay in contact with them and encourage them to take up an offer of a safe place to stay.

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        Which other organisations locally are providing help?

        There are organisations collating information for people to find help and advice:

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        Which specialist organisations are providing information for people in the higher risk group?

        Many specialist organisations and charities have specific advice for people self isolating and in need of advice including:

        • Age UK – 01843 223881
        • Asthma UK – 0300 222 5800
        • British Heart Foundation – 0300 330 3311
        • Diabetes UK – 0345 123 2399
        • Mind – 0300 123 3393
        • Scope – 0808 800 3333
        • The Silver Line – 0800 470 8090
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