Coronavirus updates – 3rd April 2020

Coronavirus cases up in York

THE number of confirmed coronavirus cases in York has increased by more than 20 in the past 24 hours – according to Public Health England figures. Yesterday there were 36 diagnoses in York – today the number has increased to 57.

ANOTHER patient who tested positive for Coivd-19 has died at York Hospital. The fatality, revealed in NHS England’s daily bulletin, is the 13 death in the York trust. 

Grand Central cancels trains

Grand Central has cancelled all services from Northallerton, Thirsk and York to London until the coronavirus crisis is over.

York Council provided information

Support for parents and children

There is a lot of uncertainty around the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, particularly given the situation is constantly developing and the information about the virus remains incomplete.

Understandably, this is causing a lot of worry and anxiety for families. Those who have children and young people at home are often trying to work themselves adding another layer of stress.

This is why we have produced information packs for parents and carers to help them through the Easter Period and a pack to help them through the coronavirus outbreak.

It includes tips to look after the health and wellbeing of the whole family, home schooling tips and where to get information and help.

You will find lots of information for parents and families on our website at www.york.gov.uk/COVIDSchoolsAndFamilies

We have attached information packs for parents and tips for the Easter holidays. We will share social media graphics tomorrow together with a press release.

Download resource guide from https://www.dropbox.com/s/yzdrtzf3oh0t8gx/Easter%20Pack.pdf?dl=0

Community hubs update

A short summary of our community response:

The Community Response Team is now 23 strong.  Numbers of calls are ramping up:  yesterday 91 calls and 65 emails

Average call length is around 15 minutes. 

We have various levels of response:

  • Providing info – we are maintaining a listing of community resources available to people
  • For low priority issues (e.g. wanting windows washed, an oven door fixed, for specific items to be purchased in M&S) we will link them into the locality Facebook groups
  • For ad hoc urgent needs designing a bespoke response via a hub volunteer
  • Referring to a voluntary organisation

We are following up with regular welfare calls to the anxious and lonely.  We have allocated 400 volunteers to making these calls. (This is distinct from but sitting alongside CVS’s welfare calls scheme for GP referrals and housing’s calls to tenants).

We have a set up a team to maintain constant contact with all the voluntary organisations and other stakeholders to understand their needs and what they have to offer and feed that back into the picture.  We are sending them extra volunteers if appropriate but some cannot manage more so we are having conversations about how we increase their management capacity.

We have opened 9 hubs, with a tenth being looked at today. Each hub has 2 members of staff (except two locations who have provided staffing).  352 volunteers are allocated to the hubs.

In addition to providing local volunteers, the hubs are leading on feeding the medically shielded who have special dietary needs that will not be met by the government parcels.  They are also providing emergency food to other people who are not served by YFAS or the foodbanks.

Volunteers:We have over 2,800 signed up.  In addition to the uses outlined above and below we have allocated them to some pharmacies, to the community furniture store, and will increasingly direct them to other uses.

Vulnerable people needing help because they are directly affected by coronavirus and have no other source of help should email the Councils Community Support Coordinators at covid19help@york.gov.uk or call 01904 551550.

Police record speeds of up to 132mph despite motorists being told to “stay home, save lives and protect the NHS”

Some vehicles and motorbikes were observed travelling very quickly on the A64 York southern by pass yesterday.

Police have have now repeated their warning to motorists to stick to the rules of the road after a driver in North Yorkshire was clocked at 132mph.

It comes amid a rise in dangerous, highly-excessive speeds as roads get quieter.

A safety camera operator on the A168 recorded a car travelling at 132mph earlier this week.

Details of the vehicle were circulated to other units and a driver was stopped by officers from a neighbouring police force a short time later. The driver was subsequently reported on suspicion of the offence.

North Yorkshire Police has repeatedly urged motorists only make essential journeys and drive safely and within the law, to protect valuable emergency service and NHS resources.

Police patrols and safety camera vans, which are operated by key-worker police staff rather than officers, have been used at key locations to try to prevent further casualties.

Andy Tooke, of North Yorkshire Police’s Traffic Bureau, said: “Some of the speeds we have recorded as the roads have got quieter are frankly ridiculous, especially at a time when people have been asked to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

“It’s unbelievable that some motorists are behaving in a way that puts more lives in danger at a time when NHS and emergency service resources are so vital.

“It goes without saying that if people stuck to the rules of the road during a time of national crisis, there would be no offences for us to enforce.

“We will not tolerate North Yorkshire being used as a race track, and we are continuing to target those who put lives at risk by driving illegally.”

The speed limit on the stretch of the A168 that the safety camera operator was monitoring is 70mph.

In the last few days, North Yorkshire Police has also recorded speeds of 117mph and several at close to 100mph.

Corona Virus update – 28th March 2020

Aldi queue priorities for NHS & emergency services

Supermarket Aldi has said that nurses, police officers and firefighters will take priority in its queues.

In a statement, it said: “All day, every day, key workers in the NHS, police and fire service will take priority ahead of queues into our stores upon showing a valid ID.

“This is in addition to early access on a Sunday, where they can enter stores 30 minutes prior to opening.

Thank you from everyone at Aldi.”

York Council guidance updated

The latest council guidance can be found on this link.

Regrettably it still does not address the issue of “routine” food shopping, stock positions, “least busy time” advice  and the lack of delivery & contactless payment options (other than plans to use volunteers to help the needy – see below)

A national briefing on the position at supermarkets can be found here https://brc.org.uk/news/corporate-affairs/coronavirus-latest-retailer-announcements/

Financial support for residents

The York Council  have announced a details of emergency funds totalling £1.25m for residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents will be able to receive financial help from two funds, depending on their circumstances and how much help they need. The two funds are the:

  • Emergency hardship fund for residents affected by Covid-19
  • Council tax COVID-19 hardship fund

More information at at www.york.gov.uk/coronavirus

York Council community response and hubs

“We have invited people in need to contact us via the council’s standard number as well as via covid19help@york.gov.uk  Calls are being dealt with by the Customer Centre (now operating 7 days a week).  Any requests for help that fall outside of normal service requests are being forwarded to a unit that we have established to respond to individual need.   We are dealing with a wide range of requests for help.  We are responding according to the nature of the need, for example:

  • Referring to a voluntary organisation providing a relevant service
  • Sending a volunteer to do shopping for the individual
  • Arranging a delivery of food via the foodbank
  • Arranging delivery of food that we have procured
  • Arranging follow-up welfare calls using volunteers
  • Linking the individual into the local Facebook groups

To support this effort we are in daily contact with all the relevant voluntary organisations to understand their needs as well as what they have to offer.  We are working particularly closely with the foodbank to focus on food issues to understand demand and adapt our approach accordingly.

Our response will now be bolstered through the establishment of community hubs.  The hubs are part of the city’s co-ordinated response to the COVID-19 emergency. They are not open to the public and are at strategic locations around the city. In the first instance these respond to the government’s requirement to deliver food to the “medically shielded” (we will be provided with a list of who these people are) prior to a national door to door delivery system kicking in.  We expect our first delivery of food imminently to our central warehouse.  Our hubs will also provide a safety net for this system should any individual be missed. 10 hubs are now ready to pack food into boxes as soon as it is delivered.  A further 14 can be opened if required”.

Homeless support

We are aware of the government’s announcement about how council’s should be supporting homeless people. People sleeping rough in the city are among the most vulnerable in the city and it is important for their immediate and long-term health to get them into accommodation.  We have accommodation for those who are still outside. From there, we can provide them regularly with food and support for their other needs.The Government has asked us to triage people to different location according to any underlying health issues and we’re working on this. More information on our support we are offering was outlined in our  press release from earlier this week.

Business support

The business briefing includes how we’ve worked with Make it York, York BID and the LEPs to make the case for small employer support, and are raising some teething issues with over government-backed loans with the British Business Bank. Now we are asking businesses to tell us what other support their business needs by completing this short survey from Make it York – whether they are a member or not.

 Mental wellbeing

Public Health England has tailored Every Mind Matters to provide advice and tips on how to manage anxiety during social distancing and isolation. People can find guidance, advice and tips on how to maintain mental wellbeing while at home or are worried and anxious about the outbreak is the NHS site.

Service changes

Register office

 As of Monday 30 March, York Register Office is closed to the public following the Coivd-19 pandemic. Following Government guidance we are now asking people to register a death by telephone.  If you have been given a medical certificate of cause of death from a doctor, you will need to deliver this to the Register Office (post through the letter box) or post the certificate to us.

Before delivering or posting please ensure you add the following details, clearly, on the medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) envelope:

  • name of the person who will register the death
  • a contact number and email address for the person who will be registering the death
  • the name of the funeral director (if known)

Once we have received the MCCD we will call you to arrange the registration. If you have not received a MCCD from the doctor, please call 01904 654477 or email registrar@york.gov.uk. We apologise for any inconveninence.

 Changes to public transport

Following the Covid-19 pandemic City of York Council have worked with York’s bus and train operators to ensure key workers and people making essential journeys are still able to get in and around the city.

After the Government announced guidelines stopping all but essential travel the number of people using bus and train services in the city has dropped substantially. In light of this we have worked with operators to remove non-essential services. We are also reminding those who are travelling need to consider social distancing whilst they move around.

 Bus services:

Bus operators and the council have looked at bus usage over the past week after restrictions were put in place to assess what trips are required for key workers, essential journeys, and also to gauge demand levels so services can operate within social distancing guidelines. Most services are continuing to run, but on a less frequent timetable. Some services will stop where there are other options for travellers. Specific changes are:

  • Park and ride services from Askham Bar, Poppleton Bar and Grimston Bar will cease from Sunday.  FirstYork will take park and ride tickets on adjacent services on their town network (for example, service 12 for Askham Bar, service 10 from Poppleton Bar and Grimston Bar).  The park and ride services from the Designer Outlet, Rawcliffe Bar and Monks Cross will continue to run, although at a half hourly frequency.  The car parks at Grimston Bar and Poppleton Bar will be closed, although the car park at Askham Bar will remain open.   The Hospital Shuttle Bus from Rawcliffe Bar will continue to run.
  • “Local” services in York will run at a reduced frequency.  Most of First’s network will operate at a half hour frequency, with half-hourly services becoming approximately hourly.  Service 13 (Connexions) will run hourly.  Service 20 every 2 hours, with frequency reductions also on services 24/25/26.  Service 19 will cease to operate, although its stops in Rawcliffe and Clifton will be served by the Hospital Shuttle Bus.
  • CitySightseeing services will not operate.

Longer distance services are also effected.

  • Coastliner services are combined with Cityzap and will operate every hour.  Service 415 to Selby will operate every hour, services from East Yorkshire have also been reduced.  Services 22, 30, 40 and 412 will operate but at reduced frequencies.

Bus users are asked to check operator websites before they travel for the most up to date information.  These can be accessed via itravel York website www.itravelyork.info Whilst these temporary changes are in place bus timetable apps and screens will not be displaying the correct information.

 Rail services:

Train companies are now offering a reduced service – ensuring key workers are still able to travel as required.  Timetables changes will be introduced from Sunday and full details are available via the National Rail Journey Planner and train operating company websites

 Car parking:

A reminder that free car parking for key workers and food workers:

Key workers who work in the NHS or are health and social care related services or work in supermarkets and food outlets without parking (this does not include takeaways) will be able to park for free in council car parks to support the fantastic work they are doing during the corona virus pandemic. Our only ask is that they put in the windscreen a letter on their employers headed paper confirming that they are a key worker in one of the services mentioned above.

During the outbreak the council are mindful that people may not be able to move their car whilst they self-isolate some discretion is being shown to people who park legally provided they are not causing an obstruction or wilfully breaking the law. Any urgent enquiries on this can be sent to parking@york.gov.uk where officers will get back to you as soon as possible.

Please note Fossbank and Piccadilly car parks are currently closed.

Healthy child service

In line with government advice, a few changes have been made to our healthy child service offer.

New parents will still be offered a face to face visit from a Health Visitor when they have been discharged by the midwife. Health visitors will call before they visit to ask about symptoms of coronavirus in the household. Health Visitors can support new parents with feeding, help to understand baby’s communication cues and answer questions relating to baby’s health, safety and development.

Health visitors and school nurses can still be contacted by phone and are on hand to provide advice and support. Please do not come to the centres, we will contact you by phone and visit only if it is essential and safe to do so.

The team can support over the phone with behaviour, toileting, sleep, healthy eating, ideas for activities during isolation and lots more.

Young people can contact the school nurses confidentially by text or call on 07833 437363 Monday- Friday 08:30-17:00

Our health visitors and school nurses can be called (Monday to Friday 8.30am -5pm) on:

  • The Avenues children’s centre 01904 551760
  • Clifton Children’s centre 01904 552322
  • Hob Moor children’s centre 01904 555475

Corona virus updates – 26th March 2020

Self employed get help

Rishi Sunak announces Govt will pay self-employed people a taxable grant of up to 80 per cent of of their average profits over the past three years, up to £2,500 a month. The Chancellor says this will be available to anyone with profits up to £50k, and is only available to those who make the majority of the income from being self-employed

Community support

We understand that both the North Yorkshire County Council and the City of York Council are setting up local volunteer hubs. These will co ordinate the provision of services within local neighbourhoods.

In York there are expected to be 20 “hubs” spread around the City with the first starting work before the end of the week. The hubs will not be open to the general public but will direct volunteer efforts on food and other deliveries.

In North Yorkshire 23 community support organisations will be the single point of contact for the county and district councils and working with the local voluntary sector.
People needing help will contact the County Council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780 which will direct them to the contact point in their area. The role of the community support organisation in each locality is as follows:
• The single point of contact for those who are alone and isolated by the pandemic
• Signposting to what local support is available in the community;
• Act as local hub for individuals and groups wishing to volunteer in the community response;
• Provide information on local shopping options and trusted suppliers who are delivering directly to those who are self-isolating;

The Community Support Organisation will work with local voluntary sector groups to arrange:
• Collection and delivery of shopping using local volunteering resources. Shopping will be delivered in line with the safety guidelines and left on the doorstep or in a safe place, in order to avoid close physical contact;
• Collection and delivery of prescriptions using local volunteers. Prescriptions will be collected by a nominated person or organisation with the agreement of the GP or pharmacist;
• Caring for pets, for example walking a dog.
• Regular social contact via telephone, FaceTime, Skype or other methods that avoid physical contact with an individual in self-isolation.
• Delivery of books and magazines or materials to support hobbies, such as wool or knitting or art materials
The first thing people wanting to help should do is to think about and talk to family, friends and neighbours who may need help. The county council is also urging them to contact local voluntary groups already known to them mindful that the Government’s regulations must be observed at all
times.
Volunteers must follow the Government’s safety guidance on keeping a two
metre distance from people and the regular washing of hands.
“If volunteers have specific or specialist skills to offer, again they should be in contact with local groups. They can also contact the county council customer service centre which can direct them to their local community support organisation which can process their offer of help.”

The county council is working with the community support organisations to bring in North Yorkshire Volunteer ID cards in line with Government guidance.

Funerals

Information from City of York Council, “Whilst the Prime Minister announced the closures of places of worship and social events, however they did make an exception for funerals attended by immediate families. We are in close and regular contact with funeral directors and are following the latest government advice.

As part of steps to manage the impact of Coronavirus, and taking into account national guidance relating to social distancing, City of York Council has announced a number of changes relating to York Crematorium.

From immediate effect funeral services will still go ahead but with only 10 (ten) mourners to being allowed inside the White Rose Chapel and 5 (five) inside the Ebor Chapel. This is restricted to close family only (spouse/partner, parents/carers, brothers/sisters and children and their partners). This is to minimise the number of people gathering.

The council will seek to provide a recording free of charge and within 72 hours of the service the funeral director will receive the recording in an mp4 file format ready to pass onto to the family”. 

 Roadworks

Stonegate completing – all others postponed

We have taken the decision to close down the active work site at Monkgate which is still more than a week away from completion.

The site will be made safe and works will not recommence until such time central government indicate it is safe to do so. Temporary traffic signals will still be in place at the junction but hopefully the network will still remain quiet as people avoid travel wherever possible.

Council leaflet

Information about volunteering and community support is being distributed to all homes in the city. These leaflets have already begun distribution.  “The delivery teams are working flat out, are working safely and within Government guidelines and the leaflets, as COVID-relevant council information, have been prioritised for delivery.” The information is the same as has already been widely distributed on social media.  

 The Council says that they are also producing postcards for each ward (with ward members contact details) and stay safe stay home information will be sent by royal mail early next week.

Current Available Mental Health and Wellbeing and COVID-19 Resources

Please find below a list of current resources that are available online to support Mental Health & Wellbeing as part of COVID-19 Response.

Mental Health & Wellbeing and COVID-19 – Adults

Looking After Your Mental Health during the Coronavirus Outbreak – The Mental Health Foundation

Coronavirus and your Wellbeing – MIND

Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak – WHO

Coping with Stress during the 2019 n-Cov Outbreak – WHO

How to stay active while you’re at home – Sport England

Coronavirus Guidance – Carers UK

Easy Read guide to Coronavirus – PHE

Mental Health & Wellbeing and COVID-19 – Children & Young People

Helping Children Cope with Stress during 2019 n-Cov Outbreak – WHO

Talking to your child about coronavirus – Young Minds

Supporting schools & colleges: A guide to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and students during periods of disruption

There are also three videos, one for school staff, one for parents and one for children and young people which may be useful.

General Health & Wellbeing Resources

Every Mind Matters – NHS and PHE

Mood Assessment and Mental Wellbeing Audio Guides – NHS

Tips for Everyday Living – MIND

Scam advice

Police advice

York Council service changes

The safety of the public and staff is paramount, therefore we are ensuring  social distancing guidance set out by the Government is followed where ever possible. This has led to widespread changes to the services we offer.

This includes:

Volunteering

So far, 1,400 residents have signed up to volunteer which is a wonderful response. We’re still looking for more, so please sign up

Parking and Car Parks including free parking for key workers and food workers

  • Key workers who work in the NHS or are health and social care related services or work in supermarkets and food outlets without parking (this does not include takeaways) will be able to park for free in council car parks to support the fantastic work they are doing during the corona virus pandemic. Our only ask is that they put in the windscreen a letter on their employers headed paper confirming that they are a key worker in one of the services mentioned above. They will not need to pay.
  • During the outbreak the council are mindful that people may not be able to move their car whilst they self-isolate some discretion is being shown to people who park legally provided they are not causing an obstruction or wilfully breaking the law.
  • Any urgent enquiries on this can be sent to parking@york.gov.uk  where officers will get back to you as soon as possible.
  • Please note Fossbank and Piccadilly car parks are currently closed.

Public Toilets

Public toilets in the city centre will be closed until further notice.. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Parks and open spaces

All council-run parks in the city will remain open for exercise but we’re asking visitors to ensure they adhere to social distance best practice. From this weekend, Rowntree Park will reopen following the flooding earlier this year.

Play areas will be closed from today and this includes basketball courts, skateparks, caged five a side areas and tennis courts. Notices are being placed in all play areas instructing the public of this decision.

To ensure we follow the government’s guidance on social distancing the York Bar Walls are closed.

Roadworks

We are suspending all non-essential roadworks across the city, including replacing traffic signals on Monkgate, following the government’s advice on social distancing. If possible we will remove cones and temporary traffic light to ensure the minimum amount of disruption is caused for those making essential journeys. This also ensures that we are able to redeploy staff if necessary to ensure essential services, such as refuse collection, continue to run.

Bulky Waste Collections

Our bulky waste collection services, which collections bulky items from households has now temporarily stopped. This is to ensure we can continue providing essential services across the city, including collecting your household waste (black bins).

Household Waste Recycling Centres

Our Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC), including Hazel Court and Towthorpe, are now closed.

This is on the basis that a visit to the HWRC cannot be considered essential – in line with recent national advice

We will be keeping Hazel Court open for commercial use – e.g. small builders, as they are currently allowed to continue to operate whilst adhering to social distancing. They will be required to produce a ‘duty of care’ transfer note on arrival.

Register Office

Unfortunately all ceremonies have been postponed following the governments advice. We have contacted everyone who has made a booking to look at rescheduling for a later date. The Register Office is currently only open to register a death. We are asking people to only go to the register office if they have a pre-booked appointment and are not showing any symptoms. We’re are also asking for only one person to attend each appointment to ensure social distancing guidance is followed.

Crematorium

From immediate effect funeral services will still go ahead but with only 10 (ten) mourners to being allowed inside the White Rose Chapel and 5 (five) inside the Ebor Chapel. This is restricted to close family only (spouse/partner, parents/carers, brothers/sisters and children and their partners). This is to minimise the number of people gathering.

Adult social care

In partnership with the NHS, we are prioritising the safe and supported return home of people currently in hospital.

We’re closely working with care home providers to monitor capacity in care homes across the city.

We’ve shared updated Govt advice on shielding online to protect the most medically vulnerable residents.

Fraud prevention

Advice from Trading Standards on how to spot or avoid scams can be viewed here https://www.york.gov.uk/FraudPrevention

Housing

We’re contacting all vulnerable households and tenants aged over 65 to check on their needs.

All housing landlord services will be run online or by phone to protect tenants, their families and our staff.

No face-to-face appointments can be run at the moment and tenants are being asked to use online and phone services only.

We’re reminding tenants that they must continue to pay their rent, but any who are struggling with their rent should contact their Housing Management Officers (HMOs) as soon as possible. We’re taking a flexible approach on enforcement.

We’ve shared details of benefits advice and where to make new claims or update existing ones is people’s circumstances change.

Housing adaptations

The priority areas are for minor adaptations to residents’ homes to enable safe hospital discharge and to fit key safes to enable carers to support them at home.

Homelessness services

In addition to our established hostels, we are working with private providers to place single homeless people with lower support needs in single rooms. These can be used to self isolate if needed. We are currently sending food to these customers and plan to use volunteers to support staff doing this.

In our hostels we are mitigating risks with extra sanitising measures and using social distancing. We are staffing hostels at levels which meet residents’ welfare needs and protect staff.

Rough Sleeper services are operating in the same way: for a bed, please go to 63, Lawrence Street or call them on 01904 416562

We are continuing with our services for people concerned about being homeless, and these will be done online or by phone. Anyone concerned about homelessness should call City of York Council on 01904 554500 or visit www.york.gov.uk/homelessness/housing-options.

Noise nuisance

We ask residents to show tolerance and consideration for neighbours at this difficult time and as we get used to new ways of living: it’s important that we all work together.

We are asking people to think about what they can do to live with levels of noise from neighbours, such as using a room in a quieter part of the home or using headphones to help concentrate. If this doesn’t work, in most cases, being neighbourly and considerate can resolve the majority of problems.

Our service is here to investigate criminal levels of noise nuisance and activate legal enforcement. If you do not think that what you are experiencing needs this, please consider safe contact with your neighbours to reach an agreement.

Stray dogs

Our stray dog service is currently suspended.  If you find a stray dog or have lost your dog please phone our Dog Warden on 01904 552299 who may have had contact from owners and finders and can put you in touch.

Free parking for NHS staff and other key workers at York Council car parks

  • Key workers who work in the NHS or are health and social care related services or work in supermarkets and food outlets without parking (this does not include takeaways) will be able to park for free in council car parks to support the fantastic work they are doing during the corona virus pandemic. Our only ask is that they put in the windscreen a letter on their employers headed paper confirming that they are a key worker in one of the services mentioned above. They will not need to pay.
  • During the outbreak the council are mindful that people may not be able to move their car whilst they self-isolate some discretion is being shown to people who park legally provided they are not causing an obstruction or wilfully breaking the law.
  • Any urgent enquiries on this can be sent to parking@york.gov.uk  where officers will get back to you as soon as possible.
  • Please note Fossbank and Piccadilly car parks are currently closed.

£1m business emergency fund to protect York  businesses and jobs during coronavirus outbreak

City of York Council today announced a £1m local emergency fund to support businesses in dealing with the impacts of Covid-19.

The fund will target a range of support at around 1000 small and micro firms, who are not set to benefit from the recently announced Government support packages.

The council is working closely with partners to make sure the fund delivers the most effective support and targets those who are least likely to benefit from existing measures.

In addition to the creation of a business support fund, the Council is also taking a series of action to alleviate pressures on local businesses during this difficult period.

These include:

  • All 350 council commercial rents deferred for three months.
  • Supporting key suppliers, including: 
  1. Paying those providing services to council and maintained schools, and bus providers for tendered routes and concessionary fares
  2. Paying in advance where possible, and for planned annual activity.
  3.   Exploring the potential for short-term loans
  • All planned increase in fees and charges are suspended (unless set by the government)
  • A license fee ‘holiday’ for businesses which can’t use them
  • Suspending debt recovery efforts

Councillor Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, said:

“These measures are designed to protect jobs and help local businesses who are having to adapt to extremely challenging circumstances and fall outside the remit of any government support.”

“In addition to the £1 million emergency fund for business, there will be a separate hardship fund of £1.25m to support residents, which we’ll announce details of soon. In the meantime, any resident facing financial difficulty should apply to our hardship scheme immediately.

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy, said:

“We want to get help to businesses as quickly as possible to assist them at this critical time. We would encourage other property landlords to take the same approach.

“We’re also working with the York BID, LEPS and other partners to connect businesses to all the available advice, guidance and support, so we’d urge any business to visit www.york.gov.uk/BusinessSupport to see what is available to them.”

The council is engaging with business support services and partners to make sure the fund delivers the most effective support, with full details to be announced in the coming days. 

Any resident facing financial difficulty can see all the available support, and apply for the York Financial Assistance Scheme, at https://www.york.gov.uk/COVIDFinancialHelp 

 

Community “Hubs” set to expand in York

The Foxwood Community Hub is popular

Councillors will consider next week a report outlining the achievements of several “community hubs” that were established in the City in 2017.

The hubs are located at Sanderson Court Community House, Foxwood Community Centre, Red Tower and Tang Hall Community Centre. There were similar initiatives in Clifton and Bell Farm.

More recently the Westfield school has announced it is opening a Hub and similar ventures have been promoted by JRHT and local churches.

The aim of the Hubs was primarily to promote financial inclusion. The project also delivered job fairs, volunteer development programmes and training and support for residents.

The project claims that the numbers attending a Hub are in the order of 200 a week. It is known that some residents attend more than one Hub. The Hubs are mainly serviced by, hardworking, volunteers.

The project claims to have served 9,000 meals, shared 5,460kg of food from supermarkets and redistributed up to 6 crates of apples and pears a week made available through “Abundance York”.

The CAB says it has directed 200 clients to an additional £210,000 worth of benefits.

The report sets out a bewildering proposal for “accreditation” for new centres. It seems to be a bureaucratic approach to an issue which requires flexibility. We doubt that this part of the plan will be welcomed by many of the volunteers.

The Council could also usefully provide a list of Hubs – with opening hours and facilities available – on their web site. Better use of social media to promote the initiative would be welcomed by many.

The report doesn’t give many clues as to what proportion of the target group has participated. It also singularly fails to mention that the City’s poorest area (Windsor Garth) has no Hub although there is a school building nearby.

Nevertheless, in a modest way – and particularly by providing a safety net for those suffering food poverty – the Hubs have proved to be a success and deserve continuing Council support.

Ironically the amount being spent on the Hubs is still less in total than was routinely provided to support Community Centres prior to the Labour Councils grant cuts introduced 8 years ago.