Coronavirus (COVID-19) - information and resources for elected members

Supporting you and your communities through the COVID-19 outbreak

Cumbria County Council Members and staff are playing vital roles with communities and partner organisations, particularly in providing support to the most vulnerable residents.

To support Members over this period, this pack includes resources to help you stay in touch with the local community, and details of the range of support that is on offer to communities from the Government, the County Council, District Councils, the NHS, and partners.

The Local Government Association, in its Councillor Guidance, highlights that Members are among the people who know their local areas best, and have an important role to play by:

  • acting as a bridge between the council and your local communities
  • sharing online official messages and information from the council's social media
  • accounts - be that Council updates, updates from Public Health or the Government
  • identifying local vulnerable people, residents and businesses and feeding this intelligence back into the council - if you have local intelligence
  • working with local community and voluntary groups to provide support and advice where needed. This may include assisting the brokerage between offers of help and the community groups to ensure they are fully supported. Maybe you may also wish to join a community group and increase their volunteer capacity to carry out home deliveries - providing you are not putting yourself, your families, or others at risk
  • providing reassurance and facilitating support for local residents.

A Community Action Response graphic, produced by Eden Project Communities, is a useful summary to encourage everyone to do what they can to support their communities, and particularly vulnerable and isolated people, during the  COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite 'social distancing' there are still lots of ways we can connect with others without putting them or ourselves at risk:

Connect online

Council digital channels have proved vital to making sure we can provide services to those who need them.

This crisis is very different to any we have ever experienced, the way people are communicating, and staying in touch is largely through social media. There are new community forums and support groups and many Members are already volunteering with local groups. Individuals have set up local social media groups to help keep neighbours and communities connected - from online Facebook groups to community WhatsApp groups.

As a Member you can use these new social media groups to stay in touch with your residents and keep track of the issues that matter to them, as well as keeping the Council sighted on any local issues of concern. These groups are a great resource to gain insight and intelligence about what's happening in communities, and to share national and local messaging as appropriate. We also recognise that these groups are often a forum for debate - this can sometimes be helpful but also occasionally unhelpful to get involved in.

Social media is also a key way to help you monitor and respond to some of the issues that may present themselves in your local community such as excess household waste, or antisocial behaviour.

You can also follow some key groups online to find out what they are doing to support those in need at this difficult time:

  • County Council
  • Cumbria Community Foundation
  • Cumbria CVS 

The online campaign 'Cumbria Together We Can' helps provide residents with positive stories and information to help them through these difficult times.

If you need help and support with using social media, contact your Leadership Support Officer.

Connect with a phone call

Keeping in touch with residents and the support groups in your area with a phone call - particularly for those people who don't have a computer or smartphone, is a simple way to check-in and have a conversation. A phone call can really brighten someone's day, especially if they live alone or are vulnerable.

Local Newsletters

The Council is publishing regular local newsletters, 1 for each district area. These contain information, advice, guidance and details of useful contacts during these challenging times.

Cumbria County Council and District Councils are working together with volunteers and community groups to ensure local communities, and particularly vulnerable and isolated people, are well supported during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The principles of supporting communities to help themselves and focusing resources on helping the most vulnerable is central to Cumbria's response to the outbreak. 

Collaboration with residents and businesses, communities and with other public services across all sectors underpins the approach to coordinating the community response to Covid-19.

This approach is illustrated in this diagram, which highlights the focus on self-support and using your own personal networks for support where possible. This enables those who need the most intensive support to access the relevant public services.

Together, we are calling for everyone to take steps that will help themselves and others cope.

In the first instance, people should turn to family, neighbours and friends when they can - people who they personally know and trust.

Community support

Some people in your community who are staying at home, self-isolating or shielding may need the support of volunteers and charities. Since the outbreak began, over 300 formal and informal community-based groupings have been created to support others in their communities.

Council Members and staff are working alongside a number of community groups and charities in the response to Covid-19 - for example, food banks, AgeUK. This has happened quickly in Cumbria due to the strength of collaboration already in place. The Council is working with existing groups where we can, rather than taking over or putting something new in place where it isn't needed.

The Council is also acting in a brokerage role between businesses making offers of help and the community groups who are operating in that area.

Welfare Hubs

6 district based 'virtual' welfare hubs have now been established. The hubs hold a central database of all the local support and resources  available in the area- including details of all available local community groups who are offering help and support to obtain food and medicine.

To access the information in the hub - vulnerable people at risk, who have no other support network of family, friends or neighbours, can call the emergency support helpline.  Their details are passed on to the local welfare hub - where the team then match the individual with a community group or other support. It operates like a signposting and brokerage system. These 'virtual' welfare hubs are being supported by teams made up of staff from Cumbria County Council, District Councils, partners and community and voluntary groups.

The hubs will regularly check in with the individual to make sure they have what they need in terms of food and medicines. During conversations with individuals, other issues may arise and the hub teams will signpost the individual as appropriate to partner agencies for more specialised support.

Volunteering

Many people are choosing to volunteer to provide support to those who need it during the  COVID-19 outbreak.

We would advise all volunteers and community groups to make themselves familiar with the latest guidance on volunteering - which includes advice on DBS checks, health and safety, handling money and safeguarding.

A range of information useful for community groups and volunteers is available: 

Support Cumbria

There are more formal volunteering opportunities, often calling for specialist skills. Those interested in becoming a local volunteer can register at Support Cumbria.

Support for businesses

The Government has made available some grants for businesses affected by the  COVID-19 outbreak.  Guidance from gov.uk

The available support includes:

  • the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF)
  • the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

More detail on these grants and how to apply can be found on your local District Council website.

Employment and financial support

Many people in Cumbria will be directly impacted financially by the closure of businesses and workplaces as part of the response to the  COVID-19 outbreak. Information about measures put in place by the Government to help employees and those who are self-employed is available at on the gov.uk website

Cumbria Community Foundation (CCF) grants

Cumbria Community Foundation has set up a fund to help charitable groups support vulnerable people affected by COVID-19.

The Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will prioritise funding to charitable projects across the county that are supporting people affected by the virus, helping to keep them safe and supported in their homes and reducing pressure on the NHS.

Details of the fund can be found on the Cumbria Community Foundation website or by calling 01900 825760 or emailing grants@cumbriafoundation.org

Cumbria County Council and partners have launched an emergency support service and 6 'virtual' Welfare Hubs for people at high risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of COVID-19, and who do not have support available from friends, family or neighbours. If they have no alternative support, these people are now able to call the Freephone number to request help with getting food, medicines, essential supplies and home deliveries. The helpline will also accept referrals from Members who may be concerned about people in their community.

The call centre will operate Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and 10am to 2pm at weekends and Bank Holidays. The service also accepts referrals from members of the public who may be concerned about people in their community.

Further information about the emergency support helpline

Safeguarding children

If you have concerns about a child being neglected or abused, please report them and help keep children safe. People can report concerns in the following ways:

  • Call the Cumbria Safeguarding Hub on 0333 240 1727
  • Call the NSPCC on 0808 800 500
  • If a child is at immediate risk of harm call 999
  • Children can contact Childline if they do not feel safe on 0800 1111

Find out more on the Cumbria Safeguarding Children website.


Staying safe - Safeguarding adults at risk

This is a worrying time for everyone but particularly for the older and more vulnerable members of our society. We are also aware of the opportunity this provides to rogue traders, scammers, bogus callers and other criminals.

We want to make sure that people are safe in their communities. Try to use existing and trusted community groups. If not, could a family member, friend or neighbour who you know and trust help?

Not sure, Don't answer the door - if you're not sure about an offer of help, ask the person to leave details and talk to someone you trust about it.

If you are concerned that an adult is at risk of abuse or neglect please contact Adult Safeguarding:

  • Allerdale and Copeland: 0300 303 3589
  • Carlisle and Eden: 0300 303 3249
  • Furness and South Lakes: 0300 303 2704
  • Out of hours: 01228 526690

In an emergency call 999.

Scams

Here are just some of the scams we are aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact residents at the door, by phone, post or online:

  • Fake payment update texts - a text-based scam doing the rounds involves a fake request from phone providers to update payment information.
  • Fake text messages claiming to be from the government offering payments to help residents.
  • Fake emails asking parents to provide bank details regarding free school meals - "As schools will be closing, if you're entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we'll make sure you're supported".
  • Warnings issued from the Illegal England Money Lending team about loan sharks offering illegal lending of money.

You can keep up to date on the latest information through Trading Standards:

Also, for free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on Freephone 0808 223 1133 or visit Citizens Advice

For many people, the uncertainty surrounding  COVID-19 is the hardest thing to cope with. 

Managing your own wellbeing and emotional resilience will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. My Learning has a number of helpful resources to help you.

If you have any problems accessing these online resources, or need additional digital skills support please speak to your Leadership Support Officer.

We will make sure Members are kept up to date with information on the national and local response to the COVID-19 outbreak through regular bulletins.

Related links:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response

Find out how to protect yourself or check if you need medical help on the NHS website

Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults (includes translations)

COVID-19: stay at home guidance

Gov.uk Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance collection for health professionals, employers, businesses and other organisations 

Coronavirus: How to help safely

5 things you can do to protect yourself and your community - Public Health England

Coronavirus outbreak Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): what you can and can't do

General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Public Health England 

Cumbria County Council - Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest information 

Information for volunteers and volunteer groups

Inclusion North - Information for all people with a learning disability or autism and their families

COVID-19 Guidance Translations