Lockdown 3
Lockdown 3

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Constituents have understandably been in touch with me with questions and concerns about the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. The situation is rapidly changing and the response to Coronavirus is being directed by Government centrally working with Public Health England, the Government’s advice is available here.

We are currently in a national lockdown. 

The most up to date advice from the UK government is available here:

Keeping Safe

People of all ages can catch the Coronavirus, and all can help in preventing its spread.

The Government advice is:

  1. People experiencing a new continuous cough or a temperature above 37.8° should stay at home for fourteen days from when their symptoms started
  2. Anyone living with someone with a new continuous cough or a temperature above 37.8° should also stay at home for fourteen days from when symptoms started
  3. Please do not visit GPs and other NHS facilities if you want advice on Coronavirus, if you think you may have Coronavirus, please contact the NHS online or phone 111. 

The Government has advised we each take the following steps:

  • Ensure personal hygiene, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds as regularly as possible, especially after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.


I hope readers continue to stay safe, socially distance and regularly check in on loved ones. Again, people are being urged to remain vigilant for any symptoms of Covid-19 If you’re feeling unwell with any of the symptoms of Covid, a new continuous cough, high temperature, or a loss of or change to taste or smell, it’s vital that you get tested.
If you feel fine and are leaving the house on a regular basis – please do get a free rapid test and help stop the asymptomatic spread. Details can be found below.
If you’re in the first priority groups for a vaccine (and haven’t yet been vaccinated), you should soon receive a letter inviting you to book a vaccination appointment through the national booking system here
The letter invites you to log onto the national booking system or call a national number to book your  appointment at a centre within 45 minutes of your home address. The letter will include a unique booking code and individual NHS ID number to support the booking – you must have these to book your appointment. Please note: You will not be able to book an appointment until you receive your invite letter, which will be sent when it’s your turn for a vaccination. If you have already booked an appointment with your GP, please ignore the letter. More information here.

The response to Coronavirus is being directed by Government centrally working with Public Health England, the Government’s advice is available here.

You can now get tested at a local testing centre: 
• South Harrow walk-through testing centre at Brigade Close Car Park, HA2 0LQ (opposite South Harrow Police Station) – open daily 8am to 8pm. No parking available at this site.
• Edgware testing centre at Watling Community Centre, Orange Hill Road, HA8 0TR – open daily 8am to 8pm.
• Mobile testing site (cars only) on selected days, 10.30am to 3.30pm at Harrow Civic Centre and Northwick Park Hospital.
Tests must be booked in advance. Only book a test if you have symptoms.

Fell fine? get tested.

This week, a new rapid test centre has opened up for Rayners Lane and South Harrow residents at the Beacon Centre. Rapid test centres are opening across Harrow and have stopped hundreds of people from spreading Coronavirus so far. 1 in 3 people with Covid do not display any symptoms & mobile units across Harrow have already identified hundreds of people who did not know they were Covid positive

Book a free rapid test at the Beacon Centre, St Ann’s Shopping Centre, Harrow Arts Centre, Harrow Civic Centre, or Shree Swaminarayan Temple Stanmore, open 7 days a week.
Book a test: https://www.harrow.gov.uk/test
As always, book a test if:
• you are having coronavirus symptoms: fever and/or new and continuous cough and/or loss of or change to sense of taste or smell
• you are an ‘essential worker’ who is not having symptoms
• you have been asked by NHS Test & Trace or Harrow Council to have a test
Book a free test online – Tests must be booked in advance.Coronavirus Scams – The Government are advising the public to be extra vigilant and be wary of scams related to Covid-19 please read the Government’s guidance here – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/be-vigilant-against-coronavirus-scamsCovid vaccines are free and the NHS will never ask for payment or financial details.
A reminder to be alert for virus vaccine scams. There have been reports of people (often vulnerable) being contacted with a request for payment or card details in order to secure a vaccination or in some instances, to receive a “Covid-relief pay-out”. A reminder that GOV and HMRC never send notifications of a tax rebate or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by text message. The phishing websites that retrieve data from vulnerable people are looking more and more professional, please be on the alert and
share in your circles.
You can report any suspicious calls, texts, or e-mails you receive from HMRC here:
Please feel free to get in contact with my office if you are concerned about the veracity of any messages you receive.

Help to get through the pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic also has huge implications for the UK’s economy and has the potential to negatively impact the personal finances of many. I understand that over the next week the government is to introduce emergency legislation to extend Statutory Sick Pay and measures to support self-employed people, including in the gig-economy, to receive welfare payments for periods of self-isolation.

For those that are in employment, you are entitled to statutory sick pay from day one, if you need to take time off work due to becoming unwell from coronavirus, you’ll be entitled to your usual sick leave and sick pay.

For those not in employment or who have recently been made redundant, it’s vital to know your rights and get a plan in place – this could include sorting your finances and making a debt audit, and making sure you’re receiving all the help you’re entitled to – Money Saving Expert have compiled a helpful Redundancy Help guide as well as a vital Benefits Checker to see what you may be entitled to.

Guidance for Business is available here and HMRC have set up a help line specifically for the self-employed and businesses that are struggling at this time – 0300 456 3565

For employees not currently working but retained by their employer, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means employers will be able to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover 80% of wages up to a limit of £2500 per month (payments backdated to 01/03/20) and will be available for three months initially.

Some residents have contacted me to ask what happens in the event they have moved jobs or were made redundant after 28 February. The best thing you can do is go back to your previous employer (as of 28 February) and ask them to re-hire you in order to be furloughed and benefit from the Job Retention Scheme. To help you do that, I have made a template letter that you can print out  below, or send it as an email attachment to your employer.

My letter can be found here.

I encourage all employers to take advantage of the scheme and look favourably on past employees asking to be re-hired. This is in the local and national interest to support hard-working residents and keep the economy moving.

For additional guidance on sick pay, mortgages, rental help, energy top-ups, event cancellation – this useful guide is being regularly updated by Money Saving Expert.

Self Employment & Universal Credit

Employment & Support Allowance

Covid-19 Small Business Government Grant

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan

Citizen’s Advice

I have been informed that the following local organisations are continuing to operate in Harrow:

  1. Harrow Citizens Advice Bureau: Operating both phone and email. The telephone times have been extended and extra lines made available. Advisors are working from home – 020 8427 9477
  2. Harrow Law Centre: No face to face appointments. Reduced telephone contact due to not having the ability to forward calls to external numbers. – 020 8863 4355
  3. StepChange: Have opened a separate page for those struggling with/worrying about their finances relating to Covid-19 https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/debt-and-coronavirus.aspx

Everyone Active, the Council’s leisure contractor, is providing 20 classes free of charge each week live on the main Everyone Active Harrow Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/eaHarrow/ . The classes are open to anyone and all ages and levels of fitness are catered for. The sessions include yoga, family fitness, conditioning, family pilates, and cardio workouts.

Support and online resources for the family
Harrow Council have collected a range of online resources for all members of the family to keep entertained while libraries are closed. You will be able to find resource to help with homework, eBooks, newspapers and magazines and keeping yourself healthy and motivated.

Finding Support

Do you have a medical condition that makes you vulnerable? Please register.

If you think you fall into a category that makes you vulnerable to coronavirus – register with the Government here. For example, you’ll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food.

If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable, register anyway. This service is free. You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else.

Harrow Talking Therapies – The coronavirus crisis is unlike anything many of us will have encountered before and will, at some point, take its toll on our own mental well-being and the well-being of those closest to us. For anyone who is struggling with their mental health at this current time – Harrow Talking Therapies is a FREE NHS service offering support to those who are finding the current situation difficult. They offer 1:1 support via telephone or Video call. They offer bereavement support, anxiety and worry management support, low mood support and also help if you are self-isolating, or feel isolated being on your own at this time amongst other support you might be needing at this time.

Please get in touch by calling 0208 515 5015 (lines are open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) or emailing harrow.iapt@nhs.net. You will be assessed very quickly and booked in for treatment quickly too.

St Mary’s Church – If you are in need of support or company – a visit (where possible), a telephone call, help with shopping etc. St. Mary’s would like you to get in contact. You can do this in a variety of ways via the Church Office. The Office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am – 2pm but the messages will be checked daily.

Email: stmarys.harrow@btinternet.com, Tel: 020 8423 4014 (answerphone: leave your contact details)

Harrow Central Mosque – Harrow Mosque is providing a free food and essentials transport service to elderly and vulnerable people in Harrow who require assistance with medical collection or other essentials – Call or SMS: 07874869484 E-mail: helpinghands@harrowmosque.org.uk

Primary Care – Data has shown that the number of people presenting with a suspected heart attack in A&E departments across England has dropped by 50% since the beginning of March – potentially leading to unnecessary deaths and significantly poorer outcomes for people who do survive. The British Heart Foundation recently asked cardiologists across the UK what they thought was causing this drop:

  • 71% believe people are afraid to visit hospital during the Covid-19 crisis due to fear of being exposed to the virus;
  • 46% believe people are worried about putting pressure on an already overburdened NHS.

A lot of people will feel they shouldn’t burden the NHS with serious matters that are not related to Covid-19, but the NHS message is that you should seek help when you need it, call your GP or 111 for advice, in a life threatening emergency call 999. Primary care is still ongoing for serious cancer, stroke and chest pain referrals, while less urgent cases are being put on hold.

Counselling services and mental health support

5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing – A fantastic primer on stress, anxiety and depression from the NHS. Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.

Relate Family Mediation – a service fully geared up to supporting families through the crisis. Tel: 0300 0032324 or email info.LNWH@relate.org.uk.

DAWN provide a counselling service to the local community of Harrow and its neighbouring boroughs. Tel: 020 8427 6796 or email: yakeendawn@yahoo.co.uk

Need To Talk – offering 1 to 1 counselling supporting their clients or any client by telephone or webcam. Tel: call/ text on 07427548559 or email info@needtotalk.london

Ignite Trust – During these challenging and uncertain times, Ignite Trust is working hard to ensure they continue to provide support to the boroughs most vulnerable and at-risk young people. Email office@ignitetrust.org.uk.

Every Mind Matters Expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Support for children and young people

Harrow Council, Harrow CCG, and Young Harrow Foundation have put together a joint document signposting residents to a collection of some of the most helpful and trusted sources of information and guidance for children and young people’s wellbeing.
For young people (high school and college age), the document ‘looking after ourselves’ can be found here – covering how to stay healthy, stay connected and learn new skills during this time.

Harrow Council

Harrow Council has formed a Coronavirus Response Group of Senior Officers to ensure the continuity of critical services; that vulnerable residents who are most susceptible to Coronavirus are looked after and at potential measures to support residents who may face severe hardship by the possible financial shocks (i.e. loss of wages) caused by Coronavirus. You can find out the information from Harrow Council on their response to Covid-19 here and I would also suggest following Harrow Council on twitter for latest updates here. Headstone Manor, Harrow Arts Centre and all Harrow libraries have all now closed until further notice.

Harrow Council have setup an emergency helpline – 020 8901 2698

The council have now announced a temporary relaxation in Controlled Parking Zones for residents living in the CPZs and carers on home visits. The Covid-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme allows you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended. Read more. All eligible businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors have been informed they will not have to pay business rates for 12 months from 1 April 2020. Some 6,400 households in Harrow will benefit from a £150 discount to reduce their Council Tax. The funding is given to everyone who gets Council Tax Support and is of working age. Find out more. Harrow Leisure Centre, Bannister Sports Centre, and Hatch End Swimming Pool and Harrow Recycling Centre have all closed until further notice.

Finding employment

The council have a new webpage featuring a number of job and voluntary opportunities here. From delivery drivers, on-line assistants, stock room and sales assistants to cleaners, there are a number of supermarkets in Harrow and the surrounding areas (Ruislip, Watford, Uxbridge) recruiting extra temporary part/full time staff to start immediately.

Helping local people

Voluntary Action Harrow, Young Harrow foundation and Harrow Community Action are working with Harrow Council to help coordinate a Harrow wide response to the Coronavirus outbreak – a database is being compiled of people who are willing to volunteer during the Coronavirus Outbreak. Voluntary Action Harrow will use this to inform you of other organisations looking for volunteers. Please sign up here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CoronavirusHarrow

A Covid-19 Community Support Facebook group has been set-up, coordinating action within WhatsApp groups for every ward in Harrow – you are welcome to join the Facebook group here and if you are not a Facebook member but would like to join your ward’s WhatsApp group – e-mail harrow.help@gmail.com with your postcode and the coordinators will add you to the correct group.

Harrow Coronavirus Community Fund

Harrow Giving has set up a fund to support front line organisations that are working with the affected communities. Initially this may be to help with food distribution or to ensure organisations have the capacity and resources to support their most vulnerable clients.

#CoffeeVsCovid – buy an NHS worker a coffee – Last week, a group of friends began raising money to fund small acts of kindness in support of London’s NHS staff. They asked nurses, doctors and NHS trusts what the public could do to help, and they replied by asking for coffee and snacks to help keep morale high. We might not be in a position to buy ventilators, but we can each send a cup of coffee.

Donate what you can, support is being given to Northwick Park staff and all the money raised will be shared proportionately across London’s major hospitals at the end of each week in support of existing staff welfare provisions.

VCS – Feeding Harrow

An emergency collaboration of voluntary groups has formed in response to Covid-19, Feeding Harrow will provide meals and food for people in isolation across Harrow. The drop off point is Kind Café @ The Bridge, Monday to Friday 10:30AM-4PM

Harrow Foodbank continues to highlight the impact of in-work poverty and the number of ways that people find themselves at a crisis point. Donations are accepted in collection bins after checkout at all major supermarkets. The Foodbank continue to emphasise the majority of its users are in work, but many are in need of emergency food provisions. If you can, please consider providing a monetary donation to the food bank, they have acquired a van and plan to make deliveries to vulnerable residents across the
borough in 2021 -send an email to info@harrow.foodbank.org.uk or visit Harrow.foodbank.org.uk for more.

Donations of hand sanitiser needed 

A number of our local organisations who work directly with clients; providing home care or transport are not able to find hand sanitizer.

If you have any spare to donate to a local cause please contact us and we will distribute it to local organisations. contact@voluntaryactionharrow.org.uk

My Yard are requesting mobile phones / electronic devices / food

During this time My Yard is managing to source groceries and meals for many vulnerable people. They have an amazing team of volunteers and have been supported by City Harvest, who have donated food as well as Marks and Spencer’s.

However:- the group would like to reach out and ask if anyone could spare any old iPads or phones for children to use and, if possible, sponsor a sim and data to go with this. Children are really struggling in overcrowded situations and little social contact.

Specific items are in shortage for young and old and many are without gas or electricity so if you want to sponsor some food, donate or if you have an old electronic spare, they could help someone unable to be in communication with others. Please get in touch:



07939 917800

NHS Volunteer Responders

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak. To do this the NHS is calling on an ‘army’ of volunteers who can support the 1.5m people in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well. Our doctors, nurses and other professionals will be able to refer people in to NHS Volunteer Responders and be confident that they have been matched with a reliable, named volunteer. Sign up here.

Harrow Carers
Harrow Carers are seeking volunteers to help unpaid carers care for vulnerable people in Harrow, they will need:
– Drivers to distribute urgent food & supplies
– Care workers to help care for the vulnerable
– Befrienders to telephone and support unpaid carers
– People to teach carers how to use digital platforms in order to stay in touch with loved ones

Contact Colin.Powell@harrowcarers.org or call 020 8868 5224 if you can assist Harrow Carers in any way

London’s Community Kitchen (based at The Bridge, next to Harrow Leisure Centre) run a Free Surplus Food Market open to everyone every Friday from 3-5PM. At the height of the pandemic, this operation has served over 10,000 people across Harrow and London. Please consider donating or getting involved in any way that you can with this incredible Harrow-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic: https://www.londonscommunitykitchen.com/home-1
If you’re ever in need of their support, the Community Kitchen want to help – they won’t ask you for any details, or anything in return, just turn up and they will provide you with food.

The Community Kitchen would love any support to keep their operation running as effectively as possible. Please get in touch with Vivette Morrow: vivette@londonscommunitykitchen.com and once you have had a Covid test, she will help set you up as a volunteer!

Stuck abroad?

We advise that you contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport, insurance and accommodation providers to see how they can assist. The FCO only organise government repatriations in rare and exceptional circumstances.

The FCO travel advice remains the best and most up-to-date way to remain informed of travelling internationally and is currently being updated daily for many countries. Further instructions on how to get home are available on Travel Advice pages for each country, particularly the ‘Return to the UK’ page. We recommend that you subscribe to travel advice email alerts for their destination, and continue to monitor the FCO coronavirus travel advice page.

Support for Domestic Abuse victims 

Anyone anyone experiencing domestic abuse can now go into a Boots or an independent chemist and seek help. If they say the codeword ‘ANI’ (pronounced Annie), they’ll be taken to a private room and asked if they want to call 999 or a domestic abuse helpline. ANI stands for Action Needed Immediately.

National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
Respect helpline for male victims of abuse 0808 8010327

Support for those who are homeless

Firm Foundation
Due to COVID – FirmFoundation have suspended drop-in facilities. If you are homeless and rough sleeping, you can call Streetlink on 0300 5000 914.

Ring Harrow Council on 020 8424 1093 – you can also contact FirmFoundation through the Contact Us page on their website or call the office on 02084265515.

Fresh Horizons CND

The Fresh Horizons CND charity based in Wembley has supported accommodation available for the single homeless in Harrow during the ongoing coronavirus restrictions. If you or someone you know is in need of supported accommodation, Fresh Horizons can be contacted by telephone at 0300 321 4702 or via email at info@freshorizonscnb.org

Help from me

I appreciate that whilst this outbreak of Covid-19 is currently dominating a lot of our thoughts, other concerns and problems do not disappear. However, to help reduce the spread of infection, I am asking members of the public who need to contact my office to do so by phone or email rather than in person and further, I will now be holding surgery appointments exclusively by telephone and Zoom video conferencing. This is a temporary measure and a sensible precaution to protect vulnerable people.  Please be assured we continue to offer a full service of advice and support to members of the public who need it.

As always my office can be contacted on gareth.thomas.mp@parliament.uk or by telephone on 0207 219 4243 is the preferred way to bring any casework issues to me. Please bear with us, as we have received over 5 times our usual weekly amount of correspondence. My team and I are working hard to respond as promptly as possible.

Best wishes


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