We appreciate the current situation is fast-moving and that you are receiving an overwhelming amount of information. This sheet is designed to give you the key messages about how our councils are supporting our residents, businesses, tenants and communities ‘at a glance’. All information is correct as of w/c 6 April 2020.
Statement by the group leaders of Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils
Although the political make up of both Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils is varied and diverse, the resolve to work together to look after our communities, protect the vulnerable and safeguard our local economy during the COVID-19 pandemic is entirely the same. In the weeks and months ahead, our energy and resources will be focused on supporting local businesses to weather this storm, protecting our most vulnerable residents from harm and starting the work to recover from this unprecedented challenge.
In Babergh and Mid Suffolk, we have fantastic and dedicated staff and councillors, working to support our communities. We also have equally admirable community groups, volunteers and organisations doing great work in difficult circumstances. We thank them all and stand with them in solidarity.
Urgent support for those in need
- Helpline for the most vulnerable - 0800 876 6926 free to call 7 days a week, from 09:00 to 17:00. The ‘Home But Not Alone’ hotline is for people without family or a friendship network to support them, and who require emergency assistance with care needs, including food, medicines, loneliness, or connecting with community volunteers. NB the telephone line is not a general information line for COVID-19 queries.
- If anyone is either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless imminently please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 123 4000.
- For those unable to pay their Council Tax – Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils locally administer the Government’s new Hardship Fund, automatically reducing Council Tax bills for households already in receipt of means-tested Local Council Tax Support – ensuring the most financially vulnerable households will have nothing to pay in 2020/21.
Support is also available for residents who do not usually fall into this category but now need help. If their household income has reduced, then please encourage them to check our website to see if we can help:
- For council tenants unable to pay their housing rent, we have put measures are in place to prevent eviction (see further support for council tenants below)
- Anyone at risk of domestic violence should phone 0300 123 4000 during office hours, or 0808 168 7794 out of hours.
- It is natural for residents to be feeling anxious or lonely. Online resources such as Suffolk Mind provide tips on looking after mental wellbeing: www.suffolkmind.org.uk. Please encourage continued contact with loved ones via phone and text, as this small step can significantly improve the wellbeing of somebody isolated at home.
- We have been working hard to source urgent temporary accommodation for vulnerable groups who urgently need a place to say in order to prevent them being homeless, to self-isolate, stay safe or recover following recent illness.
Support for our communities
- Those who want to volunteer to help should download & register on Suffolk’s Tribe Volunteer app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. This enables us to coordinate the efforts of individuals, charities, town and parish councils, community and religious groups and match them with individuals and communities who need help e.g. delivering groceries, medication or essential household goods, in line with social distancing guidelines. It also ensures existing safeguarding processes are adhered to. Please encourage all to do so, so we can see where the resource is and where there may be gaps.
- We also have access to be able to match those volunteers who have already registered with the NHS (GoodSam) app as community responders, for patient transport or check-in and chats - so there is no need for people to register with both apps.
- Our Communities team is working to provide help, support and assistance to community groups that are already delivering groceries, medication of essential household goods. They are also taking the referrals through the helpline number and ensuring individuals get support from local groups or through statutory providers if needs are more complex. As time goes on, they will also be helping groups to build their capacity and resilience by linking them with new volunteers identifying themselves through the Tribe app.
- Please let our Communities Team know of any local volunteer groups that would benefit from our new Emerging Needs Grant of up to £2,500, designed to cover their increased costs incurred as a result of Covid-19 e.g. general running costs related to existing projects/activities, ongoing staff costs, volunteer expenses, utility bills and purchasing food and other consumables. The application form is available to download on our website: www.babergh.gov.uk/communities/grants-and-funding/how-to-fund-your-project-and-advice/ or www.midsuffolk.gov.uk/communities/grants-and-funding/how-to-fund-your-project-and-advice/