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Council calls for “care and consideration” to be shown to those emerging from shielding

Following the pause on the Government shielding programme from 1 August, recognising that many residents may be emerging for the first time from their households since lockdown, Cornwall Council and NHS Kernow are calling for people in towns and high streets in Cornwall to be considerate of those around them and help keep Cornwall safe by continuing to follow the social distancing guidance in place. 

Cornwall Council, Volunteer Cornwall and NHS Kernow will continue to support shielded and other vulnerable residents, through registering for priority supermarket delivery slots, prescriptions collection, and welfare and befriending support.

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To date, Cornwall Council has contacted over ten and a half thousand shielded residents, carried out nearly 350 door visits, supported over 500 emergency food parcels, and provided volunteer and welfare support - as well as prescription and medical assistance.

Subject to ongoing clinical evidence, from Saturday 1 August, the changes are:

  • Shielded individuals can stop self-isolating as guidance will be updated to allow them to go to shops and places of worship while following social distancing rules.  
  • Food parcels sent by Government to those shielding will stop on 1 August as individuals are advised they can visit shops and pharmacies.  
  • Those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is COVID secure, adhering to the guidance available.

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for climate change and neighbourhoods, Edwina Hannaford, said: “This is potentially a very unsettling time for residents who are emerging from shielding households for the first time since lockdown – and we want to raise awareness amongst all residents in order to support those around them.

“Everyone can show their support for those who have been shielding by being kind and considerate to those around them – and following the rules – wearing a face covering, keeping a 2 metre distance whenever possible and keeping up regular good hygiene habits - washing your hands and not touching your face.”

Speaking of the help given to shielding residents during lockdown, Cllr Hannaford said: “I’d like to thank all of the people, communities, and town and parish councils that came together so quickly to help when people needed them. Staff in our contact centre have received thousands of calls asking for help with all sorts of problems that, as we all get used to living with Covid-19, are not as simple to resolve as they once were. And perhaps just as importantly, they’re there to listen. Because for some callers – those who are very elderly, or feel isolated, or are caring for relatives - having someone to talk to is just as important as getting the help they need.”

Staff who have been involved in reaching out and offering help to residents have reported back on some of the conversations they have been having.

This from the beginning of June: “Spoke to a lovely 84-year old who I registered. She has lots of help from friends and neighbours. When asked about her smoke alarm she said it had been bleeping.

“I asked her if she had to regularly change the battery, and she said quite often.  I informed her that the alarm is probably very old (and she agreed that it was), so I asked for her permission to pass her details onto the fire service for a free home safety check. She said that was wonderful and thanked me very much as she had been worrying quite a lot about it, but not expressed those concerns to her friends or neighbours.”

And, this call from late June.

“I contacted a gentleman who was also caring for his 94-year-old mother. 

“Sadly, the gentleman lost his wife two days ago and is finding the whole situation extremely difficult. He has only been able to go to the shops twice during the lockdown period, has been very frightened to venture out.

“I was able to register the gentleman so that he would receive a government food box, organise a priority delivery slot, and emailed him the ‘help with food’ page, NHS mental health wellbeing number and the Samaritans contact number. I also gave him Cornwall Council and Volunteer Cornwall numbers for future use.

“He was extremely grateful and thanked me so much for calling as he had been feeling extremely lonely and isolated in this terrible time.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “Now, these may not be matters of life or death, but it’s impossible to understate how important it is that our residents – all our residents – know that there is help available. That we are here for them. Whether that’s a food parcel, or someone to deliver vital medicine prescription, or just a caring voice at the end of the phone.

“Throughout this pandemic we’ve all found great strength in the knowledge that, however difficult things get and whatever challenges we face, we are all in this together.

“And of course, that’s true. But it’s also true to say that some of our residents, those challenges are felt more acutely.   A burst pipe, a faulty boiler, a blown fuse – they’re everyday annoyances that for most of us are quickly resolved with a phone call to an electrician or a plumber. But if you or a member of your family is shielding, it’s not that easy. Problems many of us would ordinarily consider trivial are suddenly fraught with potential risks and become a source of real anxiety.

“I’d just like to add my thanks to staff who have provided a listening ear, offered support and signposted to other help. I’m sure your words and advice made a real difference.” 

For anyone that needs help then please contact the Council’s shielding line on 0300 1233334 for support.

If at any point it becomes necessary for those shielding to self-isolate then information will be given to them as soon as possible about what they will need to do.

Story posted on 5 August