Updates on community response to coronavirus

DORSET residents are continuing to support those most vulnerable in their local community during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dorset Council is continuing to work with several key voluntary organisations to support the local community’s efforts in response to the epidemic.

Volunteering guidance in lockdown

On Monday, March 23, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown in all non-essential travel. Following official guidance from the government, Volunteer Centre Dorset has issued the following advice after consulting with its national office: “Volunteers responding to the COVID-19 crisis would be regarded as essential support services, and could continue to do what they have been.”

Safeguarding when delivering food

Dorset Council are working with colleagues at Public Health Dorset and have produced some simple but important tips for volunteers when delivering food to vulnerable residents. Tips are displayed on the council’s Community Response webpage.

Funding to support our communities’ efforts

Seventy-one grant funds have been made available to support local community groups. In addition to this, Dorset Community Foundation has launched its own Community Fund for those who would like to make a donation or want to apply for funding.

Dorset Community Foundation will also be administering the National Emergencies Trust – Coronavirus – Funding for Dorset. They will be working with officers at Dorset Council to ensure the funding is shared fairly across the Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole (BCP) areas. More information on this will be shared once funding becomes available.

What’s going on in our communities?

The Dorset Council Community Response webpage includes a link to Help and Kindness, which is recording all of the community actions to identify any gaps and share good practice.

Pharmacy delivery of prescriptions procedure

Public Health Dorset has been working with Volunteer Centre Dorset and community pharmacies through Dorset’s Local Pharmacy Committee to put in place a system of matching willing volunteers with community pharmacies who have a need to deliver medications to people who are self-isolating.

The system went live across Dorset and BCP council areas on March 25 and volunteers have already started to be placed with local pharmacies.

If there is a need for pharmacies to adjust the number of volunteers they have in their team, then they are able to request further volunteers over time. There is an expected initial flurry of activity over the coming days as pharmacies make their requests and volunteers are matched.

Further to this, Dorset Council is issuing good-practice guidance, both for the volunteers who are delivering medication and for the pharmacies working with those volunteers.

Services funded by Dorset Council that support people with issues with alcohol or other drugs have been trying to alter prescriptions and get people their medication directly so that they can practise social distancing and not have to go to the pharmacy so often, when these services are already under huge pressure.

Dorset Council staff and vehicles have been redeployed to support this effort, meaning that nurses and other treatment staff can concentrate on directly supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community.  One nurse described the drivers as a “godsend”, saying the service “couldn’t do this without them”.

People can volunteer to help in their local communities here.

Volunteer update

At the time of writing, more than 620 volunteers have registered their availability with Volunteer Centre Dorset (VCD) and also 105 organisations have registered specifically for the community response for COVID-19.

The VCD team are busy matching volunteers to vacancies and working with the pharmacies to deliver prescriptions.

Age UK North, South and West Dorset update

Age UK North, South and West Dorset are fully up and running, now working remotely, taking 200 calls per day from isolated people and are directly supporting in signposting to the right agencies and are linking in with our Adult Social Care teams for those that identify with care requirements.

Contact information can be found on the Dorset Council Community Response webpage.

Official isolation posters

Two self-isolation posters have been made available stating the household is self-isolating or has an immune disorder. They do not identify if the person is alone or vulnerable.

Residents are encouraged, where possible, to use these and not use any unofficial ones which may identify people living alone or sensitive data. The posters can also be found on the Dorset Council Community Response webpage.

Councillor Laura Miller, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “The response within the community has been outstanding. I would like to encourage those who are well and willing, to register with Volunteer Centre Dorset to further support the efforts in their local community.

“There are a number of resources available on our Community Response webpage which includes information on safeguarding, how to access support for yourself or for loved ones, contact information for queries on foodbanks as well as information on access to funding available for community groups”.

You can find more information on how to access support, registering your interest to volunteer and also guidance for those who are currently volunteering on the Dorset Council Co-ordinated Community Response webpage.

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