Nikki Barton – Independent councillor for Surrey County Council (Haslemere Ward) and Haslemere Town Council (Haslemere South Ward). Serving community interests and not political interests. Haslemere first.
Since the Prime Minister announced social distancing measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19, a set of restrictions on daily activity to contain the spread of the virus were introduced.
All non-urgent dental activity has stopped in line with the changes to people’s everyday lives that the Prime Minister has signalled. In light of public health infection control measures and continuing concerns about NHS dental care staff safety, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) has made significant changes to the delivery and operation of our dental services in the South East region.
The number of people joining Surrey libraries has doubled since library buildings closed as part of the coronavirus lockdown, according to the latest figures from Surrey County Council.
On top of this, over 4,000 online books, comics and magazines were downloaded last month – ten times the average number of downloads a month. Proving that despite buildings being closed, the county’s libraries are still very much open.
Thousands of children across the county have been enjoying Digital Rhyme Time sessions on Facebook.
To make the most of their ‘libraries from home’, Surrey residents can find lots of activities and resources for both children and young people, as well as adults on this website.
Community recycling centres to remain closed for now
Surrey County Council and the wider Surrey Environment Partnership are keen to see services getting back to normal as soon as possible and we are working with our contractor to develop a plan to re-open our Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRCs) as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.
The government advice is clear that the public should Stay Home and only make essential journeys at this time. This will protect the NHS and save lives. Therefore, community recycling centres will remain closed until this advice changes.
Waste staff are key workers performing a vital service and protecting household collections is our priority. We are ensuring other higher priority waste services, such as kerbside collections, are maintained and our CRC staff are now supporting short-staffed household collection crews and making sure those crews still have somewhere to take refuse for disposal.
We would ask residents to please hold onto any excess waste. Surrey Joint Waste Solutions has a number of tips on how residents can manage your waste more effectively.
In a letter to Ministers yesterday, the County Councils Network (CCN) has reinforced the message that unless restrictions around the lockdown are changed the CRCs need to remain closed. But it adds that should the Government’s restrictions around essential travel change, Council’s would do everything they could to support the reopening of sites and would manage this safely.
It also stresses that in light of staff having been redeployed to household waste kerbside collection there is a fear across Council’s that reopening CRCs would affect this vital service. The CCN outlines that there is a strong case for continuing to prioritise garden waste and bulk collections of household waste before HWRCs are reopened.’
While restrictions remain in place and travelling to a CRC is not deemed to be an essential journey, the CRC’s need to remain closed.
We understand that this is inconvenient, and Surrey County Council is committed to extending CRC opening hours once the current restrictions are lifted.
Help for charities supporting relief effort
Surrey County Council has announced a £100k contribution towards the Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS) to supplement their Coronavirus Response Fund that offers support of up to £5k to smaller charities and voluntary bodies.
Already more than £350k in emergency funding to help our most vulnerable residents has been distributed by The Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS), a philanthropic charity which brings together local donors to support voluntary groups across Surrey providing vital services.
Calls continue to come into the Surrey County Council Community Helpline at a rate of 200 per day.
The next focus of offering help will be highlighting a telephone befriending service for those feeling isolated and lonely. Several volunteer groups are waiting behind the scenes to offer this support to residents. 0300 200 1008.
Council Leader Tim Oliver visited the Community Food Hub at the Guildford Spectrum to see the relief being coordinated to Surrey’s most vulnerable residents with food boxes. Watch the video here.
In Haslemere, a local group of 300+ volunteers called HaslemereHelp is supporting residents with shopping, collecting prescriptions and befriending. This amazing effort has been supported by collaboration with John Robini – the town mayor, the town clerk, Haslemere Health Centre, local supermarket Waitrose and local residents” associations. Here are HaslemereHelp’s contact details:
When someone dies, there are many decisions and arrangements to be made. Unfortunately, these decisions and arrangements are required at a time of great personal distress and sadness.
Surrey County Council is working with local funeral directors, faith groups and supporting charities and they will be able to support you through the process in the coming days. It’s more important than ever that you take the time to look after your own needs too.
When faced with bereavement we normally look to our friends and family for support. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing situation this may not be as easy as it normally would.
As we deal with higher volumes of deaths, we must ensure that decisions are made as quickly as possible, while remaining mindful of the individual circumstances and wishes of each deceased person and their family.
We’re working with local funeral directors, faith groups and supporting charities who are on hand to help and support our communities through this difficult time.
With Surrey History Centre closed to the public, staff across the service have worked incredibly hard to develop a range of activities, learning resources and projects:
Covid Diaries They are inviting people to share their experiences of life during the lockdown by keeping a ‘Covid Diary’ and also sharing their photographs with us of how life has changed so rapidly across the county. Full details of the project will be found here.
BBC Surrey and Sussex have taken up the story and will be feature a piece this Saturday morning around 10.15am.
Educational and Online Activities There is also a wide range of online learning resources and activities for all ages available via the website
Following the government announcement yesterday (17 April 2020) that there is now an extreme shortage of PPE, Surrey County Council is urgently appealing for volunteers to help supply items for Surrey’s frontline workers.
With demand for PPE nationally and globally
reaching unprecedented levels, social workers, care home staff, volunteers and
items such as gowns, aprons and masks which skilled volunteers may be able to
assist with, based on a Public Health England standard.
Leader of Surrey County Council, Tim Oliver said:“As a county council we continue to do all we can to source more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline workers to ensure they have the right protection against Covid-19, but there is simply not enough supply coming into the county, indeed nationally, and this situation is now very urgent indeed.
“That is why we are now appealing to the wealth of skilled and talented people across the county – from university students to business owners and seamstresses, who may be able to assist us in producing personal protective equipment, such as gowns and masks.
“This is a time when so many communities are pulling together. I hope the public will hear our call and come to our aid so we can do all we can to protect our frontline workers who are working so tirelessly on our behalf.”
County Council is stressing that all items will need to be made to a
specification outlined by Public Health England. Please get in touch to discuss
how you can help and we will then provide this ASAP.
Surrey County Council would still welcome
contact from businesses who are able to support and would also encourage them
to email us directly with any offers of support.
Online community support group Haslemere Help reaches over 300 volunteers, as they continue to support those who are self-isolating or vulnerable in the local area during the Covid-19 outbreak
Collaborating with Surrey County Councillor Nikki Barton and Town Council staff, and with Mayor John Robini even manning the phone lines, the group are helping with essential tasks such as shopping for provisions
The group also offers a prescription pick-up and delivery service from all local pharmacies, including a special collaboration with the Haslemere Health Centre
If you or a relative are in need of any help in these tricky times, please contact 07873 383954 or email email@example.com
Community Covid-19 support group Haslemere Help has reached over 300 volunteers.
bid to help local residents, the group collected the names of those willing to
provide volunteering support for their neighbours, and since then these
volunteers have been successfully performing tasks such as shopping for
essentials and delivering prescriptions.
A founding volunteer, Narn, said: ‘When the call went
out for volunteer help, we knew many in Haslemere would step forward. Haslemere
is a community which has always had a volunteering ethos.
full of admiration for those who have volunteered and, whilst I would have
expected nothing less, it is still overwhelming to see the kindness and
consideration from those contributing voluntarily.
‘We have fielded 100s of phone calls to our helpline which is being
manned by John Robini, our town mayor, 100s of Facebook messages and
innumerable e-mails all needing help with prescriptions, shopping and an ear to
listen and have a friendly chat. Our volunteers have also picked up
wheelchairs, delivered flowers, collected plastic surgical boots and delivered
hearing aid batteries. ‘
Surrey County Councillor, Nikki Barton, has actively supported Haslemere Help and worked to streamline the Haslemere Health Centre’s prescription delivery service using the group’s volunteers. Councillor Barton told us: ‘The queues at the health centre are often long, putting great pressure on the pharmacy team. We have arranged that you can now call 07873 383954 or alternatively you can make contact by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your prescription pick up request. Patient contact and delivery details are all that is needed. Haslemere Help will not keep any of your personal details and any collections will be treated in confidence. “
On Twitter, Haslemere resident, Miles Weston who is currently self-isolating at home has received invaluable neighbour support. He wrote: ‘This is what community-minded, unnamed people in Haslemere are doing for their neighbours. We know them, we love them for what they are doing and we admire them for not being on the lookout for public recognition. They are not bragging – they are just doing it for Haslemere.”
Haslemere Mayor, John Robini said: ‘The volunteers’ efforts and commitment, together with all those employed in delivering crucial services at this time, should lift our spirits and give us all encouragement during what is, undoubtedly, a troubling and challenging time for our town. The town council staff have also provided invaluable telephone and administrative support.’
Individuals and community groups throughout Haslemere looking to provide volunteering support during Covid-19 can still register and are encouraged to complete a Volunteer Registration Form. Residents who need help with shopping, prescription pickups or other services should call the Haslemere Help service on 07873 383954. Enquiries can also be channelled to email@example.com and through their dedicated Facebook page www.facebook.com/haslemerehelp.
As a county councillor, I receive a top line brief every day from the Leader of Surrey County Council, Councillor Tim Oliver. Here are some sections from today’s brief.
Community Helpline 0300 200 1008
Easter opening times Easter opening hours:
• Monday to Thursday, 8am to 6pm
• Good Friday 10th April 10am to 4pm
• Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 2pm
• Easter Monday 13th April 10am to 4pm
Community helpline receives 250 calls a day
Surrey’s coronavirus community helpline has handled 2,500 calls and around 160 online forms. The helpline is receiving around 250 calls a day from people needing support or volunteering to help others.
Call handlers, made up of staff from the Council’s customer services team and other staff from across the council who have been called in to support, are equipped to work remotely are making sure that vulnerable people who need support are matched with groups or services which can help. Surrey County Council is working closely with colleagues in Surrey’s district and boroughs councils to make sure that people who can’t rely on family or friends get support if they need it – including over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
The helpline is also getting calls from people willing to volunteer to help others and is signposting them to voluntary groups in their local area.
A reminder that, in Haslemere, our local support group is Haslemere Help. Individuals and community groups throughout Haslemere looking to provide volunteering support during Covid-19 can still register and are encouraged to complete a Volunteer Registration Form. Residents who need help with shopping, prescription pickups or other services should call the Haslemere Help service on 07873 383954. Enquiries can also be channelled to firstname.lastname@example.org and through their dedicated Facebook page www.facebook.com/haslemerehelp.
Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said:
“The <Surrey> helpline is part of a huge community effort to make sure the most vulnerable people in our county are protected through these difficult times and I’d encourage people to continue using it, both to volunteer if they are able and call for help if they need it.”
Bin collections – what can you do to help?
We’re doing everything we can to keep bin collections running as normal during the Coronavirus pandemic. But it’s likely that services will be impacted soon because of staff shortages due to parental leave or sickness. To help us prepare, here are some things that you can do to help.
Countryside car parks
The car parks will remain closed, in line with the government and Prime Minister’s advice on social distancing. While car parks remain closed, the countryside and all rights of way remain open.
Some landowners are concerned about the increased use of public rights of way on their property, and the risk to livestock when gates are left open and dogs are not controlled. We would advise residents to please remember to follow the countryside code at all times. If large numbers of people are using the public rights of way, landowners are permitted to consider a few measures including displaying polite notices to encourage users to follow social distancing guidelines and offering alternative routes.
The decision to keep the car parks closed is consistent with other major countryside landowners like the National Trust as we all try to prevent the spread of coronavirus. For more information on the countryside, visit www.surreycc.gov.uk/countryside.
A message from the Surrey Domestic Abuse Partnership
The Surrey Domestic Abuse Partnership is aware that the measures that the government have taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19 will put survivors of domestic abuse at further risk. Being unable to leave the home will make accessing support even more difficult and being isolated at home with a perpetrator increases the risk of serious harm or worse. Our community outreach services are still open to referrals although this service will be delivered remotely and the confidential Your Sanctuary DA Helpline and on-line chat service is available for anybody seeking information or support. The refuge network both in Surrey and across England and Wales are working hard to keep women and their children safe and can be accessed through the Your Sanctuary helpline.
Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity says calls to its Helpline have risen by 25% since lockdown measures began. Isolation has potential to aggravate pre-existing behaviours in abusive partners but isn’t reason for abusive behaviour.
REFUGE has a Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline number: 0808 2000 247
Vulnerable people’s hub
Those who really need help, who are unable to rely on family and friends should immediately call our helpline on 0300 200 1008
Online Forms: As part of our out of hours service we have an online ‘I Need Help’ form where people can contact us through our website if they need help for themselves, or a family member living in Surrey. This can be used to contact us when the Helpline is closed.
The Surrey Local Resilience Forum are coordinating measures to support the 17,000 most vulnerable in Surrey (who are receiving letters from the NHS). – We are making sure we know who those are that really need help, and where they are in the County.
We are coordinating both with government, and with districts and boroughs, and the first food parcels are starting to go out to people
That distribution is coordinated from our hub at The Spectrum leisure centre in Guildford, and there will be smaller hubs in locations across the county to manage distribution
The Hub will also support those who feel isolated in the coming weeks and months who are feeling frightened and concerned.
We have already been able to help some residents in severe urgent need with food and medicine, which is fantastic to know we’re making that difference already, but there is a huge task ahead to ensure nobody slips through the cracks
Haslemere Help has set up a volunteer home delivery service for any prescriptions from Haslemere Health Centre. The queues at the health centre are often long, putting great pressure on the pharmacy team.
We have arranged that you can call 07873 383954 or alternatively email email@example.com with your prescription pick up request. Patient contact and delivery details are all that is needed. Our volunteer team will not keep any of your personal details and any collections will be treated in confidence.
Anyone calling the Haslemere Help number 07873 383954 (being nobly manned by our Mayor, John Robini) asking to have a prescription picked up and delivered will have their details taken. If the prescription is with the Haslemere Health Centre pharmacy, their request will be collated by the town clerk and sent as a batch to the pharmacy by 6pm. Although the pharmacy is currently closing at 6pm, the staff are working behind the scenes until 10pm. Haslemere Help’s security checked volunteer drivers are picking up the batches of prescriptions at 2pm the following day for delivery to the homes of Haslemere residents thereafter.
Please do use this service and encourage others to do so. It reduces the pressure on the fantastic pharmacy staff who are working incredibly hard and it reduces unnecessary risk of social contact at the pharmacy.
Haslemere Help tested this new prescription service today and delivered 19 prescriptions. This meant 19 individuals did not need to queue thus helping the pharmacy staff and reducing queues in the name of social distancing at the Haslemere Health Centre.
In light of coronavirus and the government’s instruction to
self-isolate and maintain social distancing, we understand that residents are
working and staying at home more than usual. This has changed parking patterns
and we are adjusting our parking enforcement approach accordingly. For the time
being the district and borough council parking enforcement teams in Surrey
Not enforce parking on single yellow lines in quiet residential roads
Issue temporary parking permits for car parks or on street parking schemes where they consider it appropriate to do so
Provide more flexible arrangements in council car parks where appropriate
All on street parking charges have been suspended until
further notice and NHS responders / volunteers and carers can park for free in
council car parks and on street.
Parking on double yellow lines or zig zags or on single
yellow lines on main roads and in town centres could be dangerous and will be
enforced as normal. During this time it is important to remember that essential
public services will need to maintain access to homes and facilities so please
Check your district or borough council parking enforcement web pages for further information in your area.
I wanted to update you on the
work South Western Railway has been carrying out in dealing with the
Coronavirus and keeping key workers moving during this critical time.
Following on from the changes
to the train service timetable we made last week, we have made further
adjustments to our revised timetable, with extra early morning and later
evening trains to better meet key workers’ travel patterns. We have also
this week made further contact with key stakeholders, including NHS trusts,
supermarket distribution centres, and emergency services across our network to
check our timetable is meeting their transportation needs.
Our priority is to keep our
trains running for the essential service workers who have to get to work, while
keeping everyone safe and helping prevent the spread of the virus. This
includes adapting our cleaning regime with our heavy cleaning programme
suspended so the team can concentrate on disinfecting trains, with a particular
focus on key touchpoints such as handrails, door buttons and toilets. As well
as overnight cleaning we have extended the turnround times of trains to allow
additional cleaning, bringing in off-track staff and trainees to help disinfect
the trains whilst they are in service. The reduction in the number of train
services has allowed the team to concentrate their efforts on the trains still
running and so help keep customers and colleagues alike safe.
We have also closed our waiting
rooms and are making announcements on trains and at stations to promote social
distancing among those who have no option but to travel, while using all
available communication channels to advise against non-essential travel and
urge people to save lives and stay home.
Following Government advice, we
have advised many of our non-operational colleagues to work from home and are
restricting the activities of our customer contact centre. Unfortunately this
has temporarily hampered our ability to handle refunds, however we are
currently putting plans in place to allow us to restart this process very soon;
although it will take some considerable time for us to work through the backlog
of outstanding claims.
I know that refunds have been a
major concern for many customers and I am pleased that the industry has this
week announced some further policy changes which will alleviate some of those
concerns such as extending the refund window from 28 day to 56 days, helping
those who may be self-isolating and who feared missing out on a refund. Full
details are available on our website.
Throughout this challenging
period, we have tried to keep everyone updated through all available channels,
including twitter, our website, station customer information screens, and
stakeholder emails like this one. We have, and will continue to, take on board
feedback about our services and how we can best meet the needs of not just
those key workers, but also of those customers who are no longer travelling and
need to change their plans.
We recognise that together with
Network Rail we have a vital role to play in keeping the country moving and I
am exceptionally proud of how my colleagues at South Western Railway,
particularly those on the frontline, have risen to the challenge and are just
getting on with the job of running our railway.
The information below is taken from the daily SCC Leader update that councillors are receiving:
Closure of Countryside Car Parks
Regrettably, we have been left with no choice but to close all countryside car parks owned by Surrey County Council as of midnight tonight. We have closed them as they are a place where groups can and were forming in the last week despite Government guidance on social distancing. This is in line with government advice, and consistent with other major countryside landowners, including RHS Wisley, National Trust, Forestry Commission at Alice Holt and Painshill, which have either closed car parks, or closed altogether as we all try to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
While people can still visit the countryside, we would advise residents who are going out for their daily exercise to visit quiet locations close to their homes and not travel where possible.
I appreciate this is not the news you want to hear but there is a balance to be struck between enabling people to get the necessary exercise and limiting the movement of individuals to prevent further spread.
Please be rest assured this Council is committed to improving and increasing access to our countryside and at our Cabinet meeting on 31st March we will be considering proposals that will see new investment of £1.4m in much needed infrastructure including new noticeboards, wayfinder posts, nature play trails and upgrading our visitor centres.
During these difficult times, and while the car parks remain closed, our officers will continue to work up plans to implement these improvements as practicably as possible.
We look forward to the day when are able to reverse this position, as Government advice is revised in the future. The closures have been well publicised on several of the county council’s social media channels – including Surrey News and Explore Surrey. Additionally, an alert box is on a number of countryside web pages, like this one specifically about countryside car parks.
Government’s ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ Campaign
NEW public information materials are now available on the Campaign Resource Centre. See full details of all the materials available at the end of this brief. Follow PHE on Twitter: @PHE_SouthEast
The work being undertaken by Surrey County Council – a note from the SCC Leader
The work being undertaken by Surrey County Council staff at this moment in time is nothing short of incredible. We really are seeing public service at its very best – in particular I want to thank our social workers and teachers and those on the frontline who are doing the most remarkable job in the most challenging conditions – and I want to thank them personally for all they are doing – day in day out.
Three core messages
Stay at home and save lives. It’s as simple as that – follow the government advice.
Surrey County Council’s core mission in this is to ensure that we do everything we can to reduce the pressure on the NHS, protect our most vulnerable communities and support our staff and residents.
We will get through this together, thanks to the hard work of our frontline workers, and thanks to the vigilance and shared responsibility of the British public.
General staff … Across the board our staff are working long hours, adapting to remote working very quickly, and are totally focussed on supporting Surrey’s most vulnerable residents and helping our communities deal with this unprecedented challenge.
Vulnerable people’s hub – The Surrey Local Resilience Forum are coordinating measures to support the 17,000 most vulnerable in Surrey (who are receiving letters from the NHS). –
The Hub will also support the coordination and mobilisation of volunteers and will respond to the needs of our most vulnerable. This may be supporting in the delivery of medicines and food. –
The Hub will also support those who feel isolated in the coming weeks and months who are feeling frightened and concerned. –
This work will bolster the work that is already underway by a team operating a community helpline 0300 200 1008.
Social care / PPE – We are continuing to support those most vulnerable residents who rely on us – Our workforce has been amazing at continuing this critical service – There has been an issue with getting the right protective equipment for frontline workers and that is something we have been escalating up to government
Schools – Numbers of children in schools has been lower than expected, our schools are managing – If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be. The message from central government is clear – If your work is not critical in the response to Coronavirus then please keep your child at home. Even the children of key workers should stay at home if at all possible.
Public Health England
All campaign materials updated.
‘Stay home, save lives’ campaign: following the Prime Minister’s briefing on Monday night, today SCC has launched a new campaign to encourage people to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. The campaign will run across TV, radio, digital and social channels. We have created a suite of assets for you to help amplify the message across your communication channels. The campaign materials are now available to download on the Campaign Resource Centre.
At a national level, PHE has reached out to a significant number of charities and representative organisations to amplify the campaign messages.
‘Looking out for each other’ neighbourliness campaign
We are still intending to launch the ‘looking out for each other’ neighbourliness campaign, however, campaign messages are currently being refined in line with the new ‘stay home, save lives’ campaign. Further updates will be shared in due course.
Self/home isolation campaign
These resources have now been removed from the Campaign Resource Centre as they have been superseded by the new ‘stay home, save lives’ campaign materials. Hand hygiene campaign These materials are still current, however, we are updating the lockup (logo) featured on them with the new ‘Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ lockup.
Community helpline for Surrey
The new community helpline is available to direct you to services that can help during the coronavirus pandemic. The telephone number is 0300 200 1008 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) (These hours are currently being reviewed). This community phone line is here for two things:
To help direct residents who need support, such as picking up shopping, prescription collections or having someone who can be a telephone friend, to services who can help.
To provide advice on where to register your offer of help to support your community. The Community Helpline will not be able to provide any public health advice (please use existing services such as 111) or answer general enquiries relating to council services (these should be directed to our standard contact page).
Surrey Vulnerable People Hub
The Surrey Local Resilience Forum are coordinating measures to support the 17,000 extremely vulnerable in Surrey. The Hub will also support the coordination and mobilisation of volunteers and will respond to the needs of our most vulnerable. This may be supporting in the delivery of medicines and food. The Hub will also support those who feel isolated in the coming weeks and months who are feeling frightened and concerned. This work will bolster the work that is already underway by a team operating a community helpline. More information on this will follow.
Coronavirus – birth registrations
Appointments postponed for next 21 days. Further to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March, unfortunately we will not be able to carry out any birth registration appointments for the next 21 days. You can make a claim for child benefit or universal credit prior to the birth being registered. More information will be made available over the coming days. Thank you for your understanding at this difficult time.
Public Health England has tailored Every Mind Matters to provide advice and tips on how to manage anxiety during social distancing and isolation.
You can find guidance, advice and tips on how to maintain mental well-being while at home or are worried and anxious about the outbreak is the NHS site.
Partners can signpost people to the website using Every Mind Matters assets on the Campaign Resource Centre There is also information available on the Health Surrey website including information about local help available.