30 March 2020
Highland communities helping people ‘at risk’ to protect themselves from coronavirus
The Highland Council is responding to the Scottish Government’s communication last week on “shielding” people ‘at risk’ from coronavirus. People with specific health conditions which put them at higher risk of harm from the virus will receive letters from the NHS advising them they must self-isolate for 12 weeks to protect themselves and reduce the risk of hospital admissions.
Anyone receiving a “shielding letter” can contact the Council for support during their period of self-isolation. People in this position may need different types of support and that might change during the 12 weeks. Some people may need no assistance at all because they have family or friends who can help.
Those seeking help are being asked to use the Council’s dedicated helpline at (01349) 886669 or complete a form online at www.highland.gov.uk/shielding to provide their contact details and the type of support they require.
The Council will gather the information about who needs support through a new virtual Community Hub that has been set up. This information will be passed to one of ten Local Community Hubs set up by the Council to get support to the people requesting it.
The Local Community Hubs will be in Nairn; Aviemore; Inverness; Fort William; Portree; Ullapool; Dingwall; Invergordon; Golspie and Wick. They are not open to the public to ensure we comply with public health social distancing guidance.
The Local Community Hubs will co-ordinate activity to support people across Highland. Staff from the Council and partner organisations will work alongside community groups to provide this local support. Already over 240 groups have offered help and that number continues to grow. Many groups are already providing an invaluable service to their communities.
We recognise that in addition to those individuals who have been advised by the NHS to self-isolate, there will be other people who need support. This may be support now or in the coming weeks because people need to self-isolate or need additional help. Anyone requiring support during self-isolation can call the Council’s new helpline at 0300 303 1362 and select the ‘need help with welfare’ option. We will prioritise support for those with shielding letters but will also help other vulnerable people.
If any further groups want to offer support to help people self-isolate, please fill in the on-line form at https://www.covidhelp4highland.org/volunteering.html or call the Council’s new helpline at 0300 303 1362 and select the ‘want to offer support’ option. The Council is working closely with the Highland Third Sector Interface (HTSI) in co-ordinating all offers of help.
Individuals interested in helping local groups can fill in a form to register their interest here https://www.covidhelp4highland.org/volunteering.html, or call the Council’s new helpline at 0300 303 1362 and select the ‘want to offer support’ option.
The Scottish Government are encouraging people to volunteer as well via a national helpline and the Ready Scotland website, through the British Red Cross (BRC). We are working closely with the BRC to link these Community Reserve volunteers in Highland with our local support network and Highland Third Sector Interface.
Advice for community groups:
A checklist on Ready Scotland website has advice for community groups that can be used by any group of people who want to help people in their community through the coronavirus outbreak in a way which is safe, sustainable and protects the vulnerable.
Follow advice – protect yourself and those you want to help
- By protecting yourself and your family you are already supporting your community by reducing the spread of coronavirus.
- Do not volunteer to help if you or a member of your household has symptoms.
- Follow the appropriate isolation advice before resuming any volunteering activities, and check our guide on helping in your community safely.
- All the latest evidence-based advice on protecting older and vulnerable people is on NHS Inform. Before you make any plans with your community, please ensure you are familiar with this advice.