Havering Council makes plans to support residents exiting shielding

Havering Council is putting plans in place to support Havering residents who have been shielding during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NHS has written to nearly 10,000 residents in Havering who have underlying health conditions to tell them that, unless they see a significant rise in COVID-19 cases, they expect the shielding programme will be paused on July 31.

The Government recently announced new guidelines for people who have been shielding. While shielders remain vulnerable, and should continue to take precautions, they may now choose to leave their home, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.

If they choose to spend time outdoors, they may do so with members of their own household. If they live alone, they can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. Ideally, this should be the same person each time.

Residents receiving the NHS food parcels from the NHS local contractor, Brakes, have also been notified that this service will end on Friday July 31, giving four weeks to make alternative arrangements.

Throughout the crisis, the council and voluntary organisation partners have worked together to make sure no vulnerable person was left behind.

Councillor Damian White, leader of Havering Council, said: “We encourage our residents coming out of the NHS shielding scheme to return to ‘normality’ and to start making alternative arrangements for their food supplies sooner, rather than later.

“The end of July will be here all too quickly, so it is important that residents that have been shielding get back to how they managed their food shopping before they began shielding. This might mean asking friends, family or neighbours to support them, or consider looking at alternative delivery options for supermarkets they might not normally use.

“Despite the relaxation of the lockdown rules, we continue to ensure that the safety net remains in place for our most vulnerable residents who may continue to need support. I want to offer reassurance that the council is still here to help those who might need further assistance.”

The type of help available for residents includes  support in  registering for a limited number of ‘priority shopping’ slots, for those who have no alternative options available, until they can get back to normal before shielding began.

The council can also explore any financial challenges residents may have in buying food etc and help to secure advice and support. If suitable, residents can be referred to the local Havering foodbank.

There is also a range of services available to help deal with the emotional or psychological aspects of shielding or bereavement.

For those who need support they can visit https://www.havering.gov.uk/covid19 for full details or call the Covid19 hotline on 0800 368 5201, available Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm. Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays 11am to 4pm.

In the event of a local lockdown and new outbreak, the council will once again support those that need to shield again, working together with the borough #HaveringHeroes volunteers.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]