Update on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Council Leader, Councillor Bob Cook.
The Cleveland Local Resilience Forum has now declared major incidents across the Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Hartlepool council areas.
Declaring a major incident does not mean there has been a big rise in cases of COVID-19 in the Borough, or that we aren’t able to cope, it simply triggers a more formalised set of structures governing how the various agencies work together to respond to keep people safe and well-informed.
Help for the vulnerable and elderly
The Catalyst-led effort to protect Borough’s vulnerable and elderly from the impact of Coronavirus gets under way tomorrow, with an army of volunteers, community groups and businesses hitting the streets to assist with things like food shopping and picking up prescriptions.
This newly-assembled ‘COVID Community Support Team’ will operate seven days a week and I’m delighted that Catalyst have got this up and running so quickly. This is all about making sure help reaches those in our communities who need it most and you can find out all about it on the Catalyst website.
Help for those who receive free school meals
The decision to close schools and nurseries, except to key workers and vulnerable pupils, means a number of children in our Borough who normally receive a free school meal could be affected. From Monday (March 23), families with children who would normally receive a free school meal can visit Billingham, Redhill, Stockton or Thornaby Family Hub between 11.30am and 2pm to collect a free and nutritious packed lunch for their child to take away. If you are unable to get to a Family Hub we've got a number of brilliant VCSE sector organisations on hand to deliver - to arrange this call HelpPoint on 01642 527225.
Help for businesses
We know that businesses are in desperate need of help. We are continuing to contact all of the Borough’s businesses that are eligible for the recently-announced financial assistance from Government and getting their details so that we can make sure this support reaches them as soon as possible. You can keep up to date on this on the dedicated webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/businesssupport
Help for parents/carers of children still planning to attend school
We have been working closely with our schools to support them as they transition to offering specific provision for children of key workers and vulnerable children. As things stand, our schools are planning to be open next week. But should any have to close at any point, we have set up phone lines that you can call if you need to arrange alternative provision.
Details can be found at www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus/schoolsandchildcare
Scaling back of non-essential services
We are continuing to scale back a number of non-essential services to ensure we can focus our resources on those services that protect the most vulnerable.
The Allensway Day service, the Halcyon Centre, Lanark Close and community-based day options services will be reduced with immediate effect to only provide services to those who cannot be supported, short term, by families or others in the community. STEPS, Sporting STEPS and the Livewell Dementia Hub will be closed until further notice. These changes will ensure services continue for those who need it most and we will be in regular contact with families of those not attending.
Restricted visiting arrangements will be put in place at the Rosedale Centre, our short-term residential rehabilitation and assessment centre.
Customer Service points in our three main town centre libraries in Billingham, Stockton and Thornaby, will continue to operate Monday to Friday, but they will be closed on Saturdays. Usage of the points is already well down on usual.
School admissions appeals will not be carried out until further notice.
It is important that people remain calm, follow the latest national advice on the steps needed to reduce the spread of infection, and use only official sources of information when getting this advice.
For updates on all Coronavirus (COVID-19) related developments in Stockton-on-Tees visit the Council’s dedicated webpage www.stockton.gov.uk/coronavirus