Coronavirus update from your councillors
Welcome to everyone who has subscribed since our last e-newsletter.
Please find below a range of information about the Coronavirus response in Bristol that we hope will be helpful. We usually send out e-newsletters no more than 4 times per year, however in light of the fast-changing situation we may send them out more frequently to keep you updated. If you have any questions not answered here, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Councillor Carla Denyer: firstname.lastname@example.org, 07469 413306
Councillor Clive Stevens: email@example.com, 07584 370434
Latest government advice
The government recommends:
• Avoid social contact
• Work from home if you can
• Don’t use public transport unless you have to
• Do not attend social or extended family gatherings
• Contact your GP or Health service via phone or online
• Only leave your home if you have to – to buy urgent supplies, go to key work, or get fresh air a safe distance from others.
In other words, stay inside and save lives.
Pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas and theatres should now have all closed, and restaurants and cafes should only be providing takeaway or delivery.
The Council have a new website page with up-to-date information on the virus: www.bristol.gov.uk/coronavirus. If you can’t find the information you are looking for an email address has been set up to answer questions people might have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key Workers and school closures
A list of ‘key workers’ whose children are exempt from school closures has been provided by the government. You can find it here.
It is not compulsory for key workers’ children to attend. If they are old enough to look after themselves or can be with their other parent, it is better to keep them at home to prevent the spread of the virus.
We understand that in the meantime the Government will not go ahead with primary school assessments or secondary exams this summer, and will not publish performance tables.
A big thank you from us to all the teachers and key workers that are working so hard right now.
Other closures and changes to council services
Bristol’s libraries and museums will be closed until 1 May 2020. However if you have the ‘Libby’ app you can download ebooks using your library card. To do this simply download the app – find your library – enter your library card – borrow a title and start reading.
Information about changes to other council services:
First Bus are moving to a Saturday service from Monday 23 March with services under continual review. Rail services are also going to be reduced from Monday 23 March. Timetables are being updated and will be published here for GWR and here for First Bus.
Please do not put used tissues or other contaminated items in your recycling boxes, as this risks infecting our critical refuse workers. Instead please double bag tissues, cleaning wipes, etc and keep them separate from other waste – the advice is to leave it for 72 hours before putting it in the black wheelie bin.
Number of cases
Up to date information on the latest number of coronavirus cases in the UK and for local authorities like Bristol can be found online at this dashboard.
A mapping project to create open data on the number of people self-isolating and having symptoms of coronavirus has been set up – you can add your details to the project here.
What can you do?
If you know a vulnerable person who might not be accessing services email email@example.com or email one of your councillors.
Given the panic shopping taking place and the rise in unemployment, food banks may be more in need than ever of donations. The Trussel Trust organises a national network of food banks, including eight in Bristol – you can donate to support them here.
The Quartet Community foundation supports small charities and community associations – you can donate to them here.
Lots of people are signing up to volunteer to help out during the pandemic. Bristol Council is helping the third sector with coordinating the response and you can sign up to volunteer here.
Please bear in mind that some volunteering work, e.g. door knocking and leafleting, could involve a risk of spreading the virus if proper precautions aren’t taken. The Council is currently working on guidance for the public about how to volunteer safely, with messages about safeguarding and infection prevention.
Looking after children while self-isolating
As the schools have closed and people are self-isolating with their families a lot of parents will be faced with weeks of trying to educate and entertain bored children. Schools will be providing suggestions, but here’s a list of learning resources for keeping children (and adults) entertained:
For adults and children (mixture of educational and just fun!):
There is also this useful list of activities to try with school-aged children
https://www.senecalearning.com is an online platform from KS2-A level, with information and questions to help revision. They also have youtube videos and podcasts.
https://www.twinkl.co.uk/ is a website of teaching resources. It's usually subscription only, but currently they have a free offer with the code UKTWINKLHELPS. They have specific home learning packs for many year groups.
https://www.khanacademy.org/ has loads of free resources and daily schedules
http://Youtube.com has quite a few videos and channels specifically for students. Two good ones for science are freesciencelessons and fuseschool.
Support for small businesses
Do you run a small business? If you’re worried about the impact the coronavirus shutdown will have on you, the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has opened for applications. Find out more and details of how to apply: https://bit.ly/2Uq9BCs
You can also find further support here.
The Council’s response
Councillors are being sent daily updates on how the Council is responding to the COVID-19 crisis. At the moment crisis plans are being set in motion and large numbers of staff are being redeployed to tackled the emergency. A hardship scheme is being developed by the Council to support people who need it and we hope to learn more about this in a few days. This will provide information on Council Tax payments and rent for those in council/housing association accommodation.
The Council is also considering the impact of the crisis on all of its other services - for example foster caring (most foster carers are over 60), youth services (including covering a long summer holiday) and identifying vulnerable people who need more help.
Local support in Clifton Down
Across the city, citizens are organising in their local areas to provide mutual aid to each other in these difficult times. It is wonderful to see such a strong community response and we hope these new strengthened communities will continue after the coronavirus crisis fades.
Some organising is happening through existing Residents’ Associations, so now is a great time to get involved in your local RA if you're not already.
Clifton Down Community Association covers the area between Whiteladies and Pembroke Roads, from Alma Road up to Apsley Road. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oakfield Residents Association covers roughly the area bounded by Oakfield, Pembroke and Whiteladies Road. Email email@example.com
Redland & Cotham Amenity Society covers a large area (see map) of Redland, Cotham and the eastern half of Clifton Down (everything east of Whiteladies Road). Find out more and join on their website
Hampton Park & Cotham Hill Community Association covers just those two roads. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
New informal community networks are also being formed all over the city, online. There is a Facebook group for each postcode area in Bristol, used for organising, plus many individual streets have a WhatsApp group to check in on each other and help vulnerable neighbours with shopping etc. (For those not familiar with it, WhatsApp is a messaging app, similar to sending texts on your phone, but it allows groups as well as individual messages.)
Clifton Down ward straddles two postcode areas, so the two Facebook groups are:
BS6 Community Covid-19 response: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3633792870026661/
BS8 Covid-19 Support group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549575592341916/
See the ‘pinned’ posts at the top of each Facebook group for details of how to volunteer, request help, or join your local street WhatsApp group.
There is also a lot of COVID-19 related community support happening on NextDoor (an alternative social networking site for neighbourhoods).
However, please do be aware that these new networks are informal and citizen-led. As such, while we are sure that 99.99% of the people taking part in them are genuine, these groups have no formal vetting procedure or DBS checks, and individuals may not have the same level of training you would expect from charities offering similar support. So please bear this in mind and exercise caution when sharing personal or sensitive information with people you don’t know.
If in doubt, or there is anything else we can help with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
The national picture is rapidly changing, with the closure of most UK schools and non-critical businesses such as pubs, cafes and gyms closed from Friday 20 March onwards. The government have also announced a package of measures to support businesses and help cover the wages of employees not working.
The BBC are a good source of the latest information, as is the NHS website. Exercise caution when you see advice from non-official sources.
In the Houses of Parliament our Green Party colleagues have been calling for the government to take bolder action to deal with the crisis. In the House of Lords Baroness Natalie Bennett called for the urgent introduction of a Universal Basic Income, in order to ensure financial protection for all and ensure people are able to self-isolate. You can read more here from co-leader Jonathan Bartley.
Green Party politicians from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also called for a suite of other measures last weekend as part of a ‘Coronavirus solidarity pact’.