Can you support your community during Coronavirus (COVID -19)?
What can you do as a community?
During this difficult time, we want to make sure that our residents look out for one another to help everyone to stay safe and healthy.
Our community and voluntary sectors will play a key role over the coming months and we’re working hard to provide up-to-date health information and advice to these organisations.
Offering support and thinking of one another makes neighbourhoods and communities stronger together. This is particularly important for those who are more vulnerable and isolated.
If you are low risk and healthy, consider offering help and support to others in your community.
Become a Compassionate Community Connector
Virgin Care is working with Bath & North East Somerset Council and local 3rd sector infrastructure organisation to support communities and the most vulnerable in their own homes during the Coronavirus pandemic.
We are recruiting volunteers through our #CompassionateCommunities scheme lead by Banes 3SG to offer support to community groups and charities as they work to help the elderly or vulnerable people self-isolating.
More than a thousand people from all walks of life across Bath and North East Somerset have already registered to volunteer.
You can sign up to be a Compassionate Community Connector and help others in your community, please register your interest on the 3SG website.
Charities and community groups who would like support from the #CompassionateCommunity volunteers can post their requests on the 3SG website.
How can community groups help?
People in every community will face the challenges of COVID-19 in some way – from needing basic provisions to help while they are unwell. Community groups can help by doing the following:
- Helping people to understand when and why they need to stay at home, following the NHS guidance and signposting people to advice to stay at home and how to self-isolate
- Encouraging people to reach out to neighbours and check on those who are most at risk
- As self-isolation increases, we need to stay in touch for our physical and mental wellbeing. If you know someone who is self-isolating, contact them via phone and text and check that they’re okay
- Considering adopting a buddy system (making an agreement with another person or family, to keep an eye out for each other, and be a point of contact in the case of illness or self-isolation)
- Collecting provisions or medication for those who are self-isolating, and leaving supplies at the door
- Encouraging people to make the most of local online groups, keeping up-to-date and sharing accurate information
- Supporting people who may be anxious about COVID-19. Signpost them to the correct advice from Public Health England, and encourage people to follow the correct hygiene practices
Please be respectful of anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 as it’s likely to be an anxious time for them. Due to patient confidentiality, their details will not be publicly confirmed, so please do what you can to respect and protect their privacy, and do not speculate with the local media or on social media.
Local networking tools
There are a number of useful networking tools available online:
- Next Door is a free social networking platform for local communities and neighbourhoods, focusing on connections to your near neighbours. There are already over 3,000 members in the Bath area and a number of discussion threads on how to support each other in response to Coronavirus. Here are instructions on how to join Next Door and link up with people in your community.
- WhatsApp is a free mobile phone messaging service which allows you to set up groups of up to 256 people to have collective discussions by text. You can also make video calls, which could be very useful for people feeling isolated. You can download WhatsApp on your phone or computer by going to the app store or the WhatsApp website. Here are instructions on how to set up a group.
- Even if there isn’t a specific COVID-19 support group in your area, there are already a number of Facebook pages/groups for local communities , which you can use to start the discussion.
Key health advice
The NHS has the following simple advice to avoid catching or spreading COVID -19:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, especially after using public transport, when you arrive at work or at home. Use a hand sanitiser gel, if soap and water are not available.
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
The following links provide useful, factual and regularly updated information on COVID -19:
- The NHS website has a good overview page about COVID-19. It has common questions and answers on COVID-19 including advice for families, prevention, how it’s caught and spread, self-isolation, testing and treatment, and foreign travel.
- The GOV.UK website has data on the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK, including the affected areas.
- The NHS 111 website lets you check if you have the symptoms, and will tell you what to do next if you have.
- This sort of incident could cause undue stress and anxiety. The NHS Every Mind Matters website has some really useful tips and advice to support good mental health
- The Public Health Campaign Resource Centre has the latest posters, videos and social media graphics, if you need to produce content to educate others. You will need to register for an account to use these resources.
Useful contact numbers
! WarningOnly call 111 if you cannot get help online.
You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. Only use the 111 Coronavirus service in the following situations:
- If people feel they cannot cope with their symptoms at home
- If someone’s medical condition gets worse
- If someone is ill and their symptoms do not get better after 7 days
The DfE (Department for Educations) have set up a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline by telephone on 0800 046 8687 or by emailing DfE.firstname.lastname@example.org. The helpline is open between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.
Social media is a valuable tool at a time like this, but it can also contain misinformation and rumour, which isn’t helpful. The following Twitter accounts will be regularly posting the latest factual advice and information related to COVID-19:
- Public Health England – @PHE_UK
- Department of Health and Social Care – @DHSCgovuk
- Bath & North East Somerset Council – @bathnes
- NHS England – @nhsENGLAND
- Avon & Somerset Police – @ASPolice
- Avon Fire & Rescue Service – @AvonFireRescue