The Government’s plans to set up a ‘Hub and Shield’.
This is a partnership approach between local and national agencies to support those in our communities who are at the highest risk of severe illness (‘the clinically extremely vulnerable’) if they contract COVID-19 and therefore have been advised to isolate themselves (“shielding”) for a period of at least 12 weeks.
In brief, there are some 1.4 million people who will fall into this vulnerable group and they will be receiving letters from the NHS this week to confirm that they are considered to be at risk if they contract COVID-19. Many of these people will have a support network of people around them who can help with shopping or collection of prescriptions which can be left at the front door. But there will be some who have no friends, family or other networks locally to do these things for them for all, or part, of their period in self-isolation
There is a three-fold offer to support those who are being shielded, but do not have a support network that they can rely on:
- Food: the Government is working with the food industry to deliver basic food parcels directly to their doorsteps, and over time will look at other ways to help.
- Medicines: community pharmacies will supply and organise delivery.
- Social contact: local authorities, working with the voluntary and community sector, will be asked to continue to care for those who might be feeling very isolated
Locally in East Sussex, support will be coordinated through the County Council, acting through the Local Resilience Forum.
For those residents who are not in the most vulnerable shielded group, but nonetheless may need help over the next few weeks, Wealden District Council has set up arrangements through their website www.wealden.gov.uk/ and Contact Centre (01323 443322) for people to either ask for help, or volunteer to provide help.
We are all working together with colleagues across East Sussex and the voluntary sector to ensure we can direct people to local support when needed. We hope that most people will be able to use their own support networks but of course need to make sure measures in place for those that can’t.