I know everyone is rightly concerned about COVID-19 and the impact it will have on our lives. At this difficult time I want to reassure you that we at the council are working closely with our partners in health, the police, the voluntary sector and businesses, doing all we can to support the local community. Most importantly, we want you all to stay healthy and safe, so please do follow the NHS UK advice below.
Our number one priority is to deliver the vital public services you depend on and to safeguard and look after the most vulnerable. Our frontline council services such as waste and recycling, and adult and children’s social care, have well-developed plans to minimise disruption.
Most of our services are currently operating as normal. However there may come a point where we have to stop some services, such as libraries, to ensure we prioritise others, and we will keep you informed every step of the way.
We are also working closely with local partners to coordinate our response and ensure that no-one is left behind.
We have a COVID-19 web page which will be updated daily with any changes to our services and we will also be doing further updates through our weekly Your Croydon newsletter. We want to reach as many people as possible so do subscribe.
If you are experiencing hardship or difficulties
Some of you may need extra help at this time and there is lots out there. Today we announced that council tenants in arrears as a result of COVID-19 will not face eviction, and we are urging private landlords to follow suit.
Our website lists all the council support available for residents including:
• For help with welfare rights advice, call the council’s free advice line on 0800 731 5920 to speak to an adviser or email email@example.com
• Discretionary Housing Payments may be available for a limited time to top up housing-related benefits to cover housing costs such as rent
• You may be able to claim a discretionary reduction in council tax- visit our website to find out if you qualify.
• We run three food stops with community partners in New Addington, Selsdon and Thornton Heath, where eligible residents can get £20 worth of food and groceries for £3.50 per week. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org
• The council’s Gateway service helps residents avoid homelessness and boost their financial independence, with support ranging from one-to-one debt advice and maximising their benefits, to skills training. If you are a resident needing support from Gateway staff, or you are a community organisation wanting to refer a member of the public for help, email email@example.com including a mobile number so an adviser can call you back.
• We have been notified by government that councils will be provided with additional financial resources to support vulnerable residents and will provide further information on this topic as soon as it is available.
Following government’s announcement on 18 March, Croydon schools will close their doors to most children this Friday. The safety and wellbeing of children and families is our priority, and we are working with schools and partners across Croydon to ensure that children and families can access the support that they need while schools are closed.
Together we are developing a package to ensure those children and families who need to, can still access food and other essential help and services during the school day.
To minimise disruption to our young people’s education, school staff have been working to ensure that pupils can continue to access the curriculum from home, through a broad range of resources. Contact your school for more details.
The government has said that it plans to work with schools to ensure they remain open for a small number of children. These include those whose parents are key workers, so that their parents can maintain their vital roles in public service, and the most vulnerable. We will be working closely with our children and schools to continue to support them through this process.
I know many businesses are concerned about the impact of COVID-19. We are working closely with the London Growth Hub and the council has established a business taskforce to identify short-term and long-term need. Government has announced a package of support for business and we want to ensure local businesses can access this as soon as possible. In addition the government has produced specialised advice for businesses and employers in relation to coronavirus.
Staying healthy and safe
We all need to play our part to avoid the spread of germs and viruses, including coronavirus, and reduce the impact on NHS services.
Wash your hands often, for 20 seconds, using soap and water.
Use sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
Carry tissues with you, use them to catch a cough or sneeze; then bin the tissue and wash your hands or use sanitiser.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
For information on coronavirus symptoms, visit the NHS coronavirus webpage.
If you, or someone you live with has symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, visit the government stay-at-home guidance.
The government is advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus to follow social-distancing measures.
For details of who this includes and the recommendations, visit the government guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people.
Volunteering – how you can help
Finally, I want to say a huge, huge thank you to all of you for everything you are already doing to help and support others. We are a strong community and it has been wonderful to see people pulling together in this time of need. If you want to get involved, Croydon Voluntary Action can help you to volunteer where it will have the most impact. You can sign up online at www.cvalive.org.uk.
We will keep you updated about these and other ways we are working to support you. Please take care of yourselves and keep visiting www.croydon.gov.uk for more information.