Coronavirus updates – 4th April 2020

Royal Mail

Details of changes to services click here https://www.royalmail.com/d8/coronavirus-changes-service

Communcations problems and doorstep deliveries

Some questions are now being asked about priorities for doorstep delivery of food packages

A direct to doorstep essential service is being organised by the government. for those classed as critically at risk. Currently and subject to supply an individual box contains; hot beverages (coffee, tea bags), biscuits, bread, cereal, tinned veg, potatoes, long life milk, tinned protein (fish, cold meat excl pork, corned beef), fresh fruit, pasta sauce, pasta and rice, toilet tissue, hand soap or shower gel. This group also gets priority delivery slots from a local supermarket. The criteria for being identified as a member of this group can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Separately some local GPs have written to some of their patients saying that they may be severely at risk even though they do not have any of the conditions contained in the above guidance. The letters don’t identify what the vulnerability judgement is based on. This group of people does not automatically get food parcels (or priority for supermarket home deliveries) although they are being recommended to stay at home for 12 weeks.

The authorities should clear up this confusion.

Separately forward delivery slots at the Waitrose supermarket are now visible on their web site ( https://www.waitrose.com/ ). Sadly there are no vacancies during the next 3 months!

The Council promised to send an update leaflet, to each household in York, with delivery starting this week. While we doubt the value of this form of communication, against a rapidly changing background, if delivery is delayed then the Council should confirm when (if) the communication will be going out. (see note below on e-newsletter updates.

Mental health and isolation

There is some evidence beginning to emerge that isolation is having an effect on some of those living alone. It is not restricted to the elderly. If you haven’t seen or heard from a neighbour, relative or friend please make a point of telephoning, texting or emailing them. Just to check that they are OK

The Council says, “This is a difficult time for everyone, with friends, families and communities affected by coronavirus.  The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy is the professional association for members of the counselling professions in the UK”.

They share this advice: www.bacp.co.uk/news/news-from-bacp/2020/28-february-coronavirus-anxiety-how-to-cope-if-you-re-feeling-anxious-about-the-outbreak/.

Please continue to look after yourselves and each other. Public Health England has published guidance for the public on practical steps people can take to look after their mental wellbeing and specific guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Every Mind Matters platform has specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the current situation.

Free school meals

Free school meal payments and provisions are offered to all pupils eligible for benefit based free school meals and will be available during term time while the schools are closed. Provision offers vary and may include school provided meals, grab bags, vouchers or direct payments. This is dependent on each individual school. Schools have been contacting parents/and or guardians directly if their child/children are eligible benefit based for free school meals or meal vouchers. The provision will be made available to children of keyworkers over the Easter period, at the discretion of the school.

Information about applying if circumstances have changed is here: https://www.york.gov.uk/COVIDFreeSchoolMeals

Resident e-newsletters

Residents can now get e-newsletters from the council straight into their inbox. By signing up to their preferred mailing list via an online form on the council website, residents can choose whether to receive business, resident or families guidance and updates about support or services, or all three.

Visit https://www.york.gov.uk/form/EmailUpdates to find out more and sign up. Residents can also change preferences and unsubscribe to the e-newsletters if they wish.  Members are welcome to register for these e-newsletters too (noting you will still receive this update each evening

Scams

Sadly, a number of criminals are using Coronavirus as an opportunity to scam people when they at their most vulnerable.

The police have a list of scams and advice available. Veritau have also produced a list of scams affecting businesses and residents across the country with a number of messages to share on social media.

Tips to keep safe from scams

  • Do not click on links or open attachments in emails and text messages.
  • Take time to check emails or messages are from a legitimate source. Please be aware that fraudsters go to great lengths to make their communications with you look genuine.
  • Delete any suspicious emails or text messages immediately.
  • Don’t let anyone into your home without verifying their identity and checking they have legitimate documentation or an official ID card.
  • Never give out personal or financial information over the phone.
  • Only purchase goods online from trusted and legitimate retailers and if you have one, then use a credit card as this will offer greater insurance.

Universal Credit and its impact in York – Call for Evidence

Later this year, a Council report regarding the impact of Universal Credit and it’s rollout in York will be presented to the Executive Member for Adult Social Care.  As part of this, the Liberal Democrats would like to hear from residents about their experiences of accessing Universal Credit.

The report, due to be presented on the 14th June 2018, will be given to Cllr Carol Runciman to consider as part of her responsibilities to review financial inclusion in York.

Given the controversial nature of Universal Credit and the difficulties some residents have had using the service; the Liberal Democrats are keen to ensure residents in York have their experiences included as part of the report, so it is truly reflective of the current situation.

If a resident would like to share their experience of Universal Credit in York, then please do contact Cllr Carol Runciman at cllr.crunciman@york.gov.uk to make sure your observations are included.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Adult Social Care, said:

“The rollout of Universal Credit has caused a great deal of stress for many residents across the City.”

“It is absolutely vital that the Council considers the impact of Universal Credit in York and listens to the experiences of residents using the system.”

“I would strongly encourage anyone who accesses Universal Credit to share with their experiences me and ensure that their voices are included as part of this report.”

Free school meals

The Tory government is repealing the free school meal legislation introduced by the last coalition government.

New regulations published this week indicate that a child will only receive a free mid day meal if his or her parents are in receipt of Universal Credit and earn less that £617 a month.

The new rules come into effect on 1st April 2018

Several families in York are expected to be hit hard by the new cut.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/148/pdfs/uksi_20180148_en.pdf

 

Nearly 80% take up of free school meals in York

Nick Clegg launching the new scheme last year

Nick Clegg launching the new scheme last year

In York the take-up of universal infant free school meals in primary/infant schools, on school census day in October, was 77.9%.

The initiative announced by the coalition government 2 years ago has proved to be popular with many parents.

Now plans have been outlined which would see the scheme extended to other primary school children.

5,819 York children to benefit from LibDem project

Local Liberal Democrats have welcomed the news that in total 5,819 children in York will benefit from the introduction of universal Free School Meals when term begins next week.

All reception, year 1 and year 2 pupils will now get their meals paid for under the scheme, which was first announced by the Liberal Democrats in 2013.

Although some children previously qualified for school meals, some do not take them due to the stigma, and others who don’t qualify struggle to afford them.

Research and pilot schemes in places such as Durham and Wolverhampton show that introducing universal free school meals leads to positive improvements in health, attainment and social cohesion, as well as helping families with the cost of living.

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