As Iâ€™m sure you are aware, the UK has been on â€˜lockdownâ€™ since midnight on Monday. While I know this creates many challenges for everyone in their everyday lives, it is absolutely vital that we all follow government guidance on this in order to save lives and protect the NHS.
This means we must only leave our homes for one of four reasons:
- Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle â€“ alone or with a member of your household only
- Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work, but only where you absolutely cannotÂ work from home.
We have made good and quick progress on developing our new community hub that will support vulnerable residents, and especially those who the NHS has identified as needing to take extra care (known as the shielding programme). Our priority will be to work with voluntary and community groups to help those who are unable to rely on friends and family. We will make sure they receive the food, essential supplies, medicines and social contact they need. You can find out more at www.southwark.gov.uk/covidsupport
I want to pay tribute to the many hardworking and dedicated Southwark Council staff who are working to keep vital services going in order to protect our most vulnerable residents. We are ensuring these critical services are adequately resourced whilst closing down some areas of the councilâ€™s normal work which cannot carry on under the current conditions.
I would ask for your continued patience and understanding as we work through the changes we need to make to our services to redirect staff to key services like adult social care. We will keep you updated about these changes through these newsletters, our website, and other communications.
In this newsletter you will find some key information about council services and support available to residents and businesses. You can also check our website for regular updates at www.southwark.gov.uk/coronavirus
Financial support for residents
- We are taking action locally to provide financial protection to those in our communities who are most in need. We have supplemented our Southwark emergency support scheme (SESS) budget of Â£650k per year with an additional emergency fund of Â£1.5m.
- We have suspended all debt recovery actions related to council tax and business rates and are looking at how we can help residents who are struggling financially.
- We also have information and support if youâ€™re struggling with rent payments.
Financial support for businesses
We are working to roll out government support to businesses affected by the impact of COVID-19.
Information about business grants, business rates relief, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme and much more is available on our business support webpage which is being regularly updated.
We know this is a very difficult time for the Southwark business community. If you have questions or concerns, please do contact us at email@example.com.
We are currently keeping our parks open so that residents have somewhere to exercise and get some fresh air alone or with members of their household, but it is essential that we all limit our time outside and stay at least 2 metres away from other people. Any enclosed areas within parks where it is more difficult to keep away from other people (such as playgrounds, cafÃ©s, tennis courts) have been closed.
Our libraries are now closed. However, we are auto-renewing all loans and cancelling overdue fines until we can reopen, so thereâ€™s no need to worry about any books or DVDs that youâ€™ve already borrowed.
Waste and recycling
Although our Reuse and Recycling Centre is currently closed to the public, we are prioritising the collection of household waste, and will reach you as quickly as possible. We ask that you please bear with us if your waste is collected on a later day than normal, as we are experiencing some delays.
You can help by checking our recycling pages which will help you to make better use of your recycling bin, and free up space for general waste.
All health and key workers in Southwark are being allocating free, virtual parking permits. These are associated with their registered vehicles and apply to all of our permitted parking spaces.
The permits are allocated through the businesses and organisations that employ health and key workers. We have reached out to as many as we can identify, including NHS workers, schools and police, but would invite other such employers to come forward by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) will continue to operate, with parking concessions for health and key workers. Parking restrictions and CPZs play an important role in keeping traffic moving and ensuring that deliveries (especially essential medical supplies) reach their destinations on time.
All foodbanks in Southwark are asking for donations. We know lots of you want to help your community, and giving to a food bank is a great way to help. There are different ways to donate to foodbanks including financial contributions, ordering products to be sent directly to foodbanks, or dropping off products if you can do so safely and within current government guidance (for instance as part of daily exercise).
We know that gathering together for prayer and worship is at the heart of many faith groupsâ€™ support for their communities in Southwark. We are asking faith groups to ensure that the way they are supporting communities meets government guidelines about staying at home and social distancing. This includes exploring other ways of sharing ministry, such as live streaming and adhering to advice about how to support vulnerable people.
Our leisure centre and sports facilities are closed. During the closure a payment freeze will automatically be applied to all memberships, meaning no direct debit payments will be taken but members will keep their membership.
You must only exercise outdoors once a day, following the government guidelines. There are a huge number of virtual classes and home workouts you can do including many from local fitness instructors and businesses.
Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45