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.
The most up to date advice from the UK government is available here:
People of all ages can catch the Coronavirus, and all can help in preventing its spread.
The Government advice is:
- People experiencing a new continuous cough or a temperature above 37.8° should stay at home for fourteen days from when their symptoms started
- 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
- 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.
June Update: What can I do that I couldn’t do before?
From 13 June, you will be able to:
- Form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household if you live alone or are a single parent with dependent children – in other words, you are in a household where there is only one adult. All those in a support bubble will be able to act as if they live in the same household – meaning they can spend time together inside each other’s homes and do not need to stay 2 metres apart. Support bubbles should be exclusive – meaning you should not switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households
- Attend your place of worship for the purposes of individual prayer
From 15 June:
- You will be able to visit any type of shop and some additional outdoor attractions – drive-in cinemas, and animal attractions like zoos, farms and safari parks
- Year 10 and 12 pupils in secondary schools and further education colleges will begin to receive some face to face support
- You will have to wear a face covering on public transport
You will still be able to meet outdoors with groups of up to six people from different households, provided social distancing is observed and you stay 2 metres away from anyone outside your household or support bubble.
As before, you cannot:
- visit friends and family inside their homes (unless you are in a support bubble from 13 June) or for other limited circumstances set out in law
- stay away from your home or your support bubble household overnight – including holidays – except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes
- exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
- use an outdoor gym or playground
- gather outdoors in a group of more than six (unless exclusively with members of your own household or support bubble or for one of the limited set of circumstances set out in the law)
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-scams
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.
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
I have been informed that the following local organisations are continuing to operate in Harrow:
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
Counselling services and mental health support
- Relate Family Mediation– a service fully geared up to supporting families through the crisis. Tel: 0300 0032324 or email iLNWH@relate.org.uk.
- DAWN– provide a counselling service to the local community of Harrow and its neighbouring boroughs. Tel: 020 8427 6796 or email: email@example.com
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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 email@example.com.
- Every Mind Matters– Expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Testing – NHS CCG has opened a COVID-19 testing service for Key and Essential Workers resident or employed in the borough of Harrow. The testing centre went live this month, offering appointment-based testing from Alexandra Avenue Health and Care Centre. If you are a key or essential worker in Health, Social, Priority Local Authority or Emergency Services appointments can be made by calling 0208 966 6300 (listen to the options). The lines are open from 08:00 to 20:00, 7 days a week.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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
Due to the number of volunteers over 70 or self isolating along with the increase in demand Harrow Foodbank needs additional volunteers. They are looking for volunteers.
If you are available please sign up here
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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 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
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.
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 email@example.com 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.