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Archived News 2020 - COVID Specials
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Coronavirus Special Briefing Information correct as at 9 April 2020
Centralised online information on coronavirus for Surrey residents
For essential coronavirus public information and resources which are regularly updated and added to, please see the county council’s coronavirus pages

Community Helpline offers access to practical support and is open over bank holiday weekend

Residents are being encouraged to be prepared for the bank holiday weekend and not leave things too late to ask for help.

A new SMS number, 07860 053465, for people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing has been set up to access the Community Helpline. The SMS number operates Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

A Textphone (via text relay) facility also operates via 18001 0300 200 1008 and a Sign Language Video Relay service through Sign Live, operating Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm and Saturday and Sunday, 10am-2pm.

Mental health crisis help during the coronavirus pandemic survey
The Independent Mental Health Network (IMHN) for Surrey and North East Hampshire is carrying out a short survey regarding mental health crisis support during the current coronavirus pandemic. Please share the short survey with anyone who may like to take part.

Employment advice fact sheets
Surrey Welfare Rights Unit has created three employment factsheets relating to the coronavirus pandemic and their website features up to date benefits information:

Local Citizen’s Advice in Surrey are offering telephone or email help when they can, and the national Citizen’s Advice site is also offering telephone or online chat.

Food deliveries begin from Spectrum Centre hub to most vulnerable residents
Food parcels have started to be delivered to vulnerable people who are shielding from coronavirus from Guildford’s Spectrum Leisure Centre.

The Spectrum Leisure Centre has been turned into a base for sending out food supplies on behalf of the Government to hundreds of people who are extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 due to certain medical conditions.

The Spectrum Leisure Centre is part of a wider network of hubs in each of the district and borough areas that are organising support for anyone in the county who needs it, not just for those who fall within the extremely vulnerable group and they can help with emergency food, shopping, prescription collections or dealing with social isolation and loneliness.

The Surrey Local Resilience Forum is co-ordinating the efforts across the county through a partnership with Surrey County Council, district and borough councils, NHS, emergency services, Red Cross and the voluntary, community and faith sector. The partners are also making pro-active calls to people who are being shielded for 12 weeks, as well as those who have been identified as vulnerable through various frontline Surrey services.

Information on shielding can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Guidance for volunteers: Protecting yourself and preventing the spread of Covid-19
This easy to read guide is to ensure that volunteers are informed and re-assured about how they can safely go about volunteering and ensure that they are not putting themselves, or others, at risk of Covid-19.

The guide is based on national guidance from Public Health England, and NHS England, and also draws on work from other areas including London and Scotland.

Tell the NHS about your coronavirus symptoms to help others
The Coronavirus Status Checker will help the NHS plan its responses, for example indicating where and when more resources may be needed and how the virus is progressing across the country. The survey can also be completed if someone hasn’t had or don’t think they have had Covid-19.

UK government launches Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp
This new free chatbot service on WhatsApp aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely This new free chatbot service on WhatsApp aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus giving answers to the most common questions direct from the government. Topics include:

  • Coronavirus prevention and symptoms
  • Staying at home
  • Travel
  • Mythbusters
  • Latest numbers of cases

To use the service add 07860 064422 to the phone’s contacts and then send “Hi” in a WhatsApp message. Select from the menu of options which is sent back to see more information. The service also allows the government to send messages to all opted-in users if needed.

Bright Sky App providing information and support to anyone in an abusive relationship
A free to download mobile app is now available in four languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish.

The app launched in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation provides support and information to anyone experiencing domestic abuse or someone who is concerned about a friend or family member. The app is also available for use by employers.

British Deaf Association publishing daily coronavirus videos
The British Deaf Association is publishing a daily signed video providing up-to-date information about the coronavirus pandemic.

Help stop hate crimes
There has been a rise in the number of hate crimes targeted at members of the Asian community, especially members of the Chinese community.

Stop Hate UK aims to help reduce hate crime and hate speech and operates:

They also produce an information leaflet for the Chinese community which is available in traditional and simplified Chinese.

Tips on keeping on top of mental wellbeing
Every Mind Matters from the NHS has expert advice and practical information to help look after mental health and wellbeing, including on how to cope while at home.

Healthy Surrey has information on looking after mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic including links to local services, Crisis, Safe Havens, and information on men’s mental wellbeing as well as the Mind Matters NHS Talking Therapies which are free to adults in Surrey and are still offering telephone, skype and online help and sessions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping fit and healthy during the coronavirus restrictions
Exercise is vital for mental and physical health and is more important than ever during periods of self-isolation. Choose from one of the 24 instructor led 10-45 minute online exercise videos offered by NHS Fitness Studios and take part in either aerobics exercise, strength and resistance or Pilates or yoga.

Active Surrey has tips and links on keeping active at home including links to Active 10 from Public Health England, Couch to 5k from the NHS and home workouts for home workers.

Coronavirus advice for carers
Action for Carers Surrey has information, guidance and links to help you manage as a carer during the coronavirus pandemic and are still open for telephone and email enquiries. For further help:

More information for carers will be added to the Surrey County Council coronavirus web pages shortly.

The Silent Solution – Urgent police help through the 999 service when callers can’t speak
Silent Solution is a way for people in an emergency situation and needing police help but unable to speak to let the 999 operator know the call is genuine.

When someone calls 999 from a mobile phone and makes no sound during the call, then it’s transferred to the Silent Solution system. This is an automated message which helps people who need police assistance and by asking the caller to press 55. If the caller presses 55 then the call is transferred to the police. If 55 is not pressed the call is ended.

The police will attempt to communicate with the caller by asking yes/no answers. If the person cannot speak then they need to listen to the questions and instructions from the call handler who will be assessing the call and arrange help if needed

If the call is made from a landline then the Silent Solution system is not used. If the caller doesn’t answer questions and only background noise can be heard and the BT operator cannot decide if an emergency service is needed then the call will be connected to a police call handler.

If the handset is replaced the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case it is picked up again. If this happens during the 45 seconds and the BT operator is concerned about the caller’s safety then the call is connected to the police.

Online training from Friends Against Scams
The short online training sessions aim to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams and have been updated to include information around coronavirus scams.

Information on online shopping fraud and how to get help and report it is also available on the ActionFraud website.

New HM Revenue and Customs tax helpline available
A new telephone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus has been set up. The helpline number is 0800 024 1222 and operates Monday-Friday 8am-4pm.

How to care for your pets when carrying out 'social distancing' or staying at home due to coronavirus
The RSPCA has some useful questions and answers around looking after your pet during the coronavirus pandemic including what to do if your pet is ill, what should I do with my pet if I am social distancing, can I still walk my dog etc.

Online activities from service providers this month
Numerous providers in Surrey are providing virtual activities for their service users and families during the coronavirus pandemic and include:

Linkable is providing online activities including Indoor Olympics and Sunday self isolation virtual quiz.

The Orpheus Centre is running Facebook Live events – Bring all the family to our Big Quiz.

Conquest Art is starting on online “While in Isolation” exhibition and sharing artwork on what inspired people during the day.

The Veterans & Families Listening Project Wellbeing Group is meeting online on the 2nd Tuesday in the month at 11.15am.

Surrey Coalition of Disabled People is running a Virtual Café every Monday 11am-12noon for light hearted discussion over a cup of tea and a Daily Walk and Talk having a chat whilst doing gentle exercise at home is every weekday 2.30-3pm.

New Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group is formed
The new Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was formed on 1 April 2020 following the merger of four clinical commissioning groups in Surrey.

It covers around one million people or approximately three quarters of the Surrey population in the following borough and district areas: Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Tandridge, Waverley and Woking.

The CCG has a membership of 104 GP practices who work together across four local areas as Integrated Care Partnerships.

Surrey Fire and Rescue implements plans to modernise
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has implemented its “Making Surrey Safer” plan which dedicates more resources to preventing emergencies after a detailed risk analysis showed that the service had additional resources available at night and needed to put more into prevention and protection work.

Guildford, Fordbridge, Camberley and Woking fire stations have changed how they are staffed at night with one fire engine and crew available 24 hours a day in these areas, and from 7pm-7am if needed a second fire engine from a neighbouring fire station.

Haslemere and Walton has increased fire and rescue cover with one fire engine and crew available during the day 7am-7pm, seven days a week and from 7pm-7am on-call fire fighters responding.

News in Brief 27th April 2020
Support For Carers With Shopping  
Most supermarkets are offering extra help for vulnerable groups; both in opening hours and with access to online delivery slots.  Action for Carers Surrey is providing letters enabling unpaid carers to identify themselves and their needs, so these can be more easily met by retailers and others. This is part of a government backed initiative to support carers.

To request a letter or ask for other advice phone 0303 040 1234 or email to:  You can also text them on: 07714 20075993.

Bereavement Support Available  
The Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has been working closely with faith and community leaders, funeral directors, burial sites and crematoriums to ensure that there is an increase in the capacity for funerals allowing people to mourn any loved ones who have passed away. 

Support is available via Surrey County Council’s Community Helpline (0300 200 1008) and the Local Resilience Forum has teamed up with Cruse, the bereavement support charity, to offer emotional support over the phone: Telephone – 0844 477 9400.

Looking After Your Mental Wellbeing During Coronavirus  
The Public Health team at Surrey County Council offers some tips to help look after your mental wellbeing during the Coronavirus crisis:

1. Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media – overloading on information can impact your mood.    

2. Make time to unwind. If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you’re staying at home, think about how you could adapt them, or try something new?

3. Stay connected with others, call friends and family members. Our community helpline can also put you in touch with a telephone friend if you don’t have anyone to talk to.

4. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

5. Stick to the facts. Only read and share accurate information from GOV, NHS and Surrey County Council to understand the actual risks to yourself and people you care about. This can make the outbreak less stressful for yourself.

6. Help others who may be struggling with their mental wellbeing. Check the NHS One You tips on what you can do to help others.

7. Build physical activity into your daily routine, like dancing to music you love, cleaning your home or following online exercise workouts. This can help reduce stress, anxiety and low mood. Find out more on the Healthy Surrey website.

There is a range of support and advice on the Healthy Surrey website which includes self-help resources , local services (including a 24/7 confidential helpline) and information for those with or dealing with an adult in crisis.

Age UK Surrey Offers New Emergency Shopping And ‘Check In And Chat’ Services  
Age UK Surrey is providing two additional services, some of which have been adapted to abide the current social distancing guidance and others have been launched in response to the crisis.

Emergency Shopping Service - a free service and available to older people who are not able to access online food deliveries or go to the shops because they are staying home to keep safe. The Emergency Shopping service is for people who need essential items. It can also help with collecting prescriptions.

Check in and Chat – Due to having to temporarily stop their face to face home visiting Befriending service in Waverley, Guildford, Runnymede and Spelthorne, the organisation is now offering a new telephone service - Check in and Chat - to people across the county. The service is supported by volunteers who are matched with people who would like a telephone call.

For more information, telephone 01483 503414, email  or visit their website. To volunteer please email:  

Facebook Portal Devices Trial Keeps Care Home Residents Connected  
Care home residents and patients across Surrey are now able to keep in touch with friends and family, thanks to newly introduced video calling devices installed in care settings. Facebook Portal devices are now available in a number of care homes and hospital care settings, enabling residents to stay in regular contact with loved ones through the touch of a button.

The initiative is one of a number of measures being introduced by partners across Surrey to support the most vulnerable and socially isolated residents remain connected during COVID-19 isolation measures.

Surrey was the first pilot site in the country to be selected by NHSX, the digital arm of NHS England, to take part in the scheme and learnings from the county will be used to roll out the project nationwide in the coming weeks.

Infection control measures are also in place to maintain the high hygiene levels currently in place across care home settings when using the shared device.  

Dramatize – Bringing Theatre To People’s Homes  
The live streams and video uploads will run at the following times…

9am - Live stream on Facebook
10am - Video upload to the website
1pm - Live stream on Facebook
3pm - Video upload to the website

The videos can be found via this link;
Facebook page -
To register for the online parties or family quiz please click on the following links -
Party at Home with Dramatize -
Family Quiz -

Audiology Team Adapts Support To Ensure Patients Stay Safe At Home
The First Community Health and Care Audiology Service has risen to the challenge. Although used to providing face to face appointments, they now find themselves having to adjust to home working and relying on telephone and email to communicate with patients who are living in the community. Adapting to the current situation the audiology team is managing to meet their patients’ needs, including:

  • Taking patient histories for their hearing assessment /re-assessment appointment over the phone;  
  • Discussing issues with hearing aids, assisting with replacements and trouble shooting;  
  • Counselling patients struggling with Tinnitus;  
  • Discussing the posting of replacement hearing aids, ear moulds, replacement tubes and batteries as well as organising the collection and delivery of broken hearing aids from vulnerable adults, all free of charge; 
  • Arranging to see a limited number of face to face patients if appropriate.

Contact First Community Health and Care Audiology Service Telephone: 01293 600 312. Text: 07964 439 514. Email

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