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Hart (Humanitarian Assistance Response Team) Update


1          What is Hart?
The Humanitarian Assistance Response Team (or Hart for short) at Newark and Sherwood District Council (NSDC) is the local hub for all community support in Newark and Sherwood and currently has four key priorities:

  • To support, map and promote all community activity that is springing up all over our district from groups keen to help.
  • To hold and publicise a central list of all food outlets that are currently open, either offering a take away service or a food purchase offer.
  • To signpost individuals to Nottinghamshire County Council who wish to volunteer at this unpresented time.
  • To support isolated residents who may need help with the supply of food or medication during the COVID-19 pandemic where there are no local support groups in place.

Any Nottinghamshire residents who need support are being encouraged to contact the central Nottinghamshire Coronovirus Community Support Hub managed by Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) by emailing enquiries@nottscc.gov.uk . If emailing is not possible, people can call 0300 500 8080 which is currently manned by 120 staff.  All emails will be dealt with as quickly as possible and every person will receive a response.  The telephone calls are triaged by NCC advisors who will initially signpost people in need to  local services, community groups and volunteers   They will also deal with requests for social care, safeguarding support and refer cases to district councils accordingly.  Those fed down to NSDC will initially be triaged by NSDC Customer Service Advisors before being referred into the Council’s local Hart team, which is working closely with the county council, Town and Parish Councils, Newark and Sherwood CVS, local food retailers and local community/volunteer response groups.
Initial pathways across the system have been agreed to ensure national, county and district/neighbourhood community support is as integrated and joined up as possible. However, these are constantly changing and developing so it is almost inevitable that there will be some fragmentation, so please bear with us whilst these are refined and improved. 
The Hart team is also:

  • Representing the District Council on a number of Nottinghamshire Local Resilience Forum cells/groups focused on humanitarian assistance, food supply, community and volunteering support
  • Leading a multi-agency group set up to support our Gypsie Roman Traveller community  with  COVID-19 related complex issues
  • Working closely with Housing / Homelessness colleagues to signpost incoming requests for help from vulnerable groups and ensure rough sleepers are housed
  • Liaising with the Newark Food Bank and Ollerton Food Bank to ensure they have sufficient stocks and volunteers available to help with deliveries
  • Liaising with Newark and Sherwood CVS to ensure the two organisations work together and that referral pathways are in place for people to access their services, such as their volunteer support scheme
  • Liaising with local pharmacies to help deliver essential medical supplies
  • Liaising with national and local food suppliers to create local food stores that will help the fill the gap until the national scheme is up and running. The Palace Theatre is being used as a local hub for emergency supplies and staff are creating food boxes, which are being delivered across the district by the CPOs. . This includes working Nottinghamshire County Council and with the British Red Cross to distribute food parcels to identified emergency vulnerable persons and assisting with the delivery of food parcel to the vulnerable/shielded group
  • Allocating dedicated communications officers to the Hart Team to ensure timely and appropriate internal and external communications. . This will include sharing news updates and example of the Hart Team working out in the community.

Please note that the arrangements we are establishing are not intended to replace what local parishes and community groups have set up but to augment and support them, particularly in places where no such arrangements or networks are in place.
If any Parishes require informal support and advice about setting up or managing local groups with safe and secure practices for volunteers please contact the golden number 0300 500 8080 or N&S CVS direct on

WHO IS IN THE HART TEAM?
The Hart team is made up of NSDC employees who have been redeployed from other roles within the District Council.  For example, Officers from the Public Protection Team and Environmental Enforcement Team are being deployed by the Hart Team to under taking house calls, food/meal deliveries and medical deliveries. More volunteers from the Housing team (Street Wardens) are on standby to help with this if needed in the coming weeks.

2          Information for isolated residents
The Hart’s immediate focus will be those who live in Newark and Sherwood and meet one of the below criteria:
•           Those identified as most at risk from the shielding exercise,
•           Those who are over 70 and social isolating (but healthy),
•           Those who are under 70 but have underlying health conditions (as defined),
•           Anyone else having to social isolate (families, children), particularly those in food poverty; and
•           People in refuges and hostels.
Support available to these isolated and vulnerable residents includes the provision of emergency food parcels and support with medication deliveries, where there is no support available. 
An example of the type of support available is delivery of emergency food packages - NSDC officers will come out with an emergency box of food to last for around 3-4 days.  Included in this package will be a letter containing information about arranging food on a longer term basis from supermarkets.  NSDC staff will have a name badge.  When they arrive, they will call the residents telephone number and advise they are outside. They will then leave the food parcel on their doorstep and retreat. They will ensure that the food parcel is collected safely before departing. Residents are reminded to only open the door to those people they are expecting so that they can ensure they are a safe distance away.
3          Information for Community Groups
The District Council is also mapping the community groups that are already in place offering support to Newark and Sherwood residents and will then help plug the gaps where there is a need.  If there is a local community group, faith group, charity, parish or town council that is already supporting people who are self-isolating, they are encouraged to email enquiries@nottscc.gov.uk including 'Volunteering' in the subject line, or by calling 0300 500 8080.  They need to provide the following information:

  • Your name / organisation
  • Contact details - postal, telephone and email address
  • Have you been DBS checked?
  • Area of Nottinghamshire in which you are able to provide support
  • What support you can offer.

The District Council is working with NCC to map what support is available and plug the gaps where there is a need to ensure that all residents of Newark and Sherwood have access to emergency support.
4          Information about support groups, food outlets and take away services
Listed on www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/coronaviruscommunityhub is a comprehensive guide to all outlets that are open and offering some sort of food provision.  Whether that be restaurants that are now operating as a take away service or a Community Kitchen set up to deliver meals to isolated residents, everything for Newark and Sherwood is listed on that one site.  The information is updated daily to ensure it is kept up to date.  This information can be found directly from the homepage of NSDC’s website as well - www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk
For all residents, if you met certain criteria, then they can access foodbanks.  This is for people who are in food poverty and not for those who can afford to pay but just cannot access food.
Meals are also being offered on a door-to-door delivery basis by a community kitchen at Carriages at Newark Castle station, with the support of Newark and Sherwood District Council as part of its response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Whilst Carriages already offers three-course meals to residents, two members of Council staff are working alongside them every Wednesday to bring two-course meals to residents every week.  Residents of Newark and Sherwood can order their meal by calling 01636 676129, which is then delivered to their door safely, adhering to social distancing guidelines.  Meals are offered for £2.50 or free of charge to those in need.  There is also a pay it forward option available, so anyone can call the telephone number and donate money to help purchase a meal for someone in need. Meals can be delivered to Newark and surrounding villages but require re-heating on arrival until piping hot.

5          Information to individuals wishing to volunteer
We know that communities pull together at times like this and there are many individuals who do not have any underlying health conditions or who do not fall into an at risk group who wish to volunteer.  The District Council are asking all individuals to contact the Nottinghamshire County Council community hub to register.  The email address is enquiries@nottscc.gov.uk and the telephone number is 0300 500 8080.  County Council will then filter all Newark and Sherwood volunteers to the District Council Hart team who will work with N&S CVS to ensure a local database is collated.
6          How did these Community hubs come about?
Local Government Minister and Newark MP Robert Jenrick announced at the weekend that new community hubs would be set up to lead on the ‘humanitarian’ effort. The Government is liaising with supermarkets to ensure that basic food packages can be supplied to all those eligible.  This new email address and phone number is set up to allow vulnerable residents and community groups to access their local community hub.
7          Hub telephone opening times
The telephone support service, hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council, (0300 500 8080) is open between 8.30am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday.  Alternatively and preferable people should email enquiries@nottscc.gov.uk
8          What is NSDC’s role in providing these hubs?
The Secretary of State announced, earlier this week, the launch of resilience/community hubs to lead on the ‘humanitarian’ elements of the pandemic.   The District Council will be identifying what community response is already in place to deliver food and medication, plot this, identify the gaps (and work to plug them).  The immediate task, already well underway is to ‘map’ what community activities are already in place and to support them and coordinate where necessary.
NSDC will also be encouraging residents to be cautious and to avoid scams as unfortunately some of these have been identified.
9          Operational Update (31.03.20)
Rapidly changing environment
Changes are happening daily at the moment and the Hart team is responding very quickly to this ever changing environment. Below are listed some key updates on some of the operational aspects (as at 31.03.20)
Demand
The total number of requests received by NSDC customer services to date is 91.  (This includes calls that customer services have directed to alternative support groups as well HART)
The total number of requests sent to and actioned by HART to date is 71.
Example case studies:
1)         A vulnerable lady aged 83, living alone in Newark and no family nearby with several medical conditions. This lady needed her medication collecting from Boots Pharmacy, Stodman Street on the 1st April. The HART team called this lady to discuss her needs further and have arranged for a CPO to collect her medication from the pharmacy on the 1st April.  She has confirmed she is ok for food but we have encouraged her to call us for further support if needed. Very grateful for our support.
2)         A couple aged 70 and he is 76, both having to self-isolate with no family nearby. He is unwell, suffering from cancer and a recent stroke. Prescriptions are already being delivered but they are unable to use the internet to arrange a food delivery and delivery slots are limited therefore in need of food. The HART team called this couple to discuss their needs further and a CPO visited the shop and delivered their essentials on 31/03/20.
Volunteers
The Hart team are looking to work with the NHS volunteers to ensure that both these volunteers and those that have contacted the NCC’s Community Hub work in partnership.
Communications
Currently the dedicated Communications Officers are working to ensure that the NCC email address and telephone number are promoted widely around the District.  They are doing this via a variety of channels including the printed press, website, radio and social media.  New channels are being utilised on a daily basis to share the NCC Community Hub email address and phone number.  NSDC’s leader, Cllr David Lloyd, was on Facebook Live on Friday 27 March talking about how NSDC is responding to ensure help and continued support for residents and businesses during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Councillor Lloyd spoke about the District’s Humanitarian Assistance Response Team (Hart), support packages for businesses, and the measures being taken to ensure that essential Council services will continue for residents including critical waste (green/black bin) collections. So far, the video has had more than 4,700 views. The video can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/NSDCouncil/  The Hart communications team are also focusing on sharing positive news stories about the role of the Hart team and how it has helped local residents.  In doing so, it hopes more isolated people will seek the support they need.
PPE (Personal, Protective Equipment) and conserving stocks
The Hart team have received guidance about the use of PPE.  If neither a worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.
There are some additional general interventions, which are also advised, which include increased cleaning activity and keeping property properly ventilated by opening windows whenever safe and appropriate.
It is essential that stocks of PPE are conserved and deployed sensibly to critical workers. Local risk assessment and practical management should be pragmatic and proportionate, including consideration of whether there is actually a requirement to wear PPE at all.
Community Groups /Volunteers should not be entering homes and should not PPE.
Disclosure and Barring Service - DBS
NCC has recently issued guidance about DBS checks.  NCC have advised that DBS checks are not required for the majority of the tasks that people can request help for via the hub, which to confirm are:

  •  Access to food – help with food shopping/food delivery
  • Access to medicine – help collecting and delivering medicine
  • Dog walking
  • Be-friending/social wellbeing – friendly chat via phone, providing updates on what is going on in your local area regarding Covid-19
  • Physical well-being – help to stay mobile and active – access to virtual gym sessions
  • Transport – help with getting to and from local places to help with running local errands

Normally a DBS check would be required for handling money and transport. DBS checks will still need to be in place for anyone who is providing transport for anyone else.  Further advice will be coming from the CSC on this.  In addition any be-friending phone call requests from a person under the age of 18 will not be currently undertaken by a volunteer – they will be signposted to registered children’s charities who can assist.  
NCC have also advised that a DBS check is currently not required for cash handling.  Obtaining someone’s shopping and medication is likely to be the most popular request we receive and it would likely cause us difficulties in being able to meet the demand, if we require all volunteers to be DBS checked for this task.  NCC are however drafting some additional guidance for volunteers on handling money, which will be ready by tomorrow and available on the NCC website.
NSDC has put processes in place for staff going to households containing vulnerable people who are self-isolating, in critical need and have no support mechanisms around them.
Financial Support – Community Fund
NCC is currently launching a COVID community fund - £1 million pounds is available to registered charities, constituted voluntary and community organisations and Parish and Town Councils who are actively responding to the needs of vulnerable people in Nottinghamshire communities.  Grants of between £200 up to a maximum of £10k are available via a short online application form available at https://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/business-community/community-and-voluntary-sector/supporting-voluntary-sector/covid-19-community-fund
As a priority, NCC are especially interested in:  

  • Projects that directly help vulnerable people affected by the effects of COVID-19, such as by providing access to food, toiletries, necessities, as well as projects to help people in isolation; and
  • Projects that are already set up and helping vulnerable people now.

Further information is expected from NCC about these when fully launched and officers from the HART Team will be contacting local community and voluntary sector groups to help promote and support applications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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