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Council Thanks Community Hubs for Local Response to Pandemic

Author: Carrie Spacey Published: 30th July 2020 09:10

With over 14,000 people in Cheshire West and Chester shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic, community hubs were essential in keeping them safe and supplied with food and medicines.

Neston Community Youth CentreCllr Louise Gittins (foreground) with NCYC Centre Manager Gareth Prytherch and some of the volunteers who rapidly responded to the need for a community hub during the pandemic.

Shielding was advised for all those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, limiting their exposure to other people and movement outside their own homes.  Particularly in need of help were those with no close family or friends nearby who could assist them.

From the middle of march, Cheshire West and Chester Council and its partners rapidly mobilised a community response network of hubs to enable the distribution of food and medicines to shielded individuals and households.  In Neston the heart of that response was at Neston Community Youth Centre, which quickly engaged with a network of volunteers and worked with local clinics, pharmacies and foodbanks.

Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and member for Little Neston, Councillor Louise Gittins said: "I'd like to express my gratitude to everyone who has been involved in supporting shielded residents, including all our health, voluntary and charitable sector partners. Many teams have stepped out of their normal roles to deliver our shielding response and provide support and comfort.

"Residents have expressed their gratitude to the people delivering items, to officers checking in with them on the phone, on our social media platforms and in writing to the Council.

"The collective shielding response has supported people living alone and in isolation, with life-threatening conditions, living in financial hardship and in difficult living conditions. They've supported anxious residents, expectant mums and bereaved spouses and, by and large, their compassion and general desire to help has been well received and valued by residents.

"As a community we must all be vigilant about a potential second wave of infection. We must continue to follow the guidance that remains in place for all our safety - respect social distancing, wear face coverings on public transport, in shops and takeaways and wash our hands regularly. If necessary, if the risk rises again, we will need to provide further advice to medically vulnerable people."

Content for the first 60 emergency food boxes was supplied by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), with all food since then either purchased by the Council or with generous donations from local companies.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service delivered over 1100 emergency food parcels from the food hub, with more boxes delivered to vulnerable homeless people who were shielding.

At its peak, the virtual hub involved 48 redeployed Council staff, working either full or part-time.

Over the coming weeks these teams will continue to help people as they start to adjust to the end of shielding and continued relaxation of lockdown.

Up to date Government guidance for those people who have been shielding can be found here.

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