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Scam alert – COVID-19 vaccine scams – what you should and shouldn’t expect
Fraudsters are using the COVID-19 vaccine as an opportunity to scam people out of their money. Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards are working with NHS Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to highlight what residents should expect from a genuine COVID-19 vaccine invitation.

The bogus texts, calls and websites ask people to enter their bank details with the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine in return.

You can check authenticity of invites and report all scams by:

  • Suspicious text messages should be forwarded free-of-charge to 7726. Your provider will investigate the origin of the text and act, if found to be malicious.
  • If you have received an email which you’re not sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at report@phishing.gov.uk.
  • If you or someone you know receives large amounts of unsolicited phone calls and are susceptible to being scammed, we may be able to supply a free call blocker, email trading.standards@surreycc.gov.uk for more information on this.
  • You may receive a call from a different GP practice than your usual one, this is because practices have come together to pool resources.

Dr Sally Johnson, NHS Surrey Heartlands CCG’s Clinical Lead for COVID-19 Vaccinations, provides information regarding what to expect from your vaccine invitation in a new video.

Coronavirus home testing kits now easier to order
The Government has announced on the 18th February the introduction of improved accessibility to the home testing programme. 

Improvements include:

  • Home testing kits can be ordered by calling 119, no need for an email address or IT access. 
  • A new NHS Test and Trace partnership with Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to improve the home testing service for people with visual impairments 
  • A new video-call support service with specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff that will assist people with vision impairments to test at home.

The announcement can be found here.

Sudden – Help after a COVID-19 death
Sudden is a free service for bereaved people protecting their emotional and physical wellbeing from day one, and for the first ten weeks, at a time of shock and loss in cases when someone has died suddenly or too soon. It is a crisis response to COVID-19 but is here for the long term and is part-funded by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The Sudden service is delivered best in partnership with agencies including hospitals, police and by other agencies helping to support people at a difficult time of loss. If you would like to partner with Sudden then you will need to complete a form to provide information about your partnership preferences and needs.

To access the Sudden service you can visit their website to familiarise yourself with their opening times or to make a referral for yourself or another individual you can phone their direct helpline or make contact via email.

Telephone: 0800 2600 400 Email: help@sudden.org

Symptom-free community testing initiative continues in Surrey
The Targeted Community Testing initiative, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, is continuing in Surrey with a third surge testing operation getting underway this week in Maybury and surrounding areas in Woking after the identification of a case of the South African variant of COVID-19.

Test kits will be distributed door to door by Surrey Local Resilience Forum volunteers, largely from Woking Borough Council, from Thursday 18 February.

The process will replicate that of previous surge testing, where volunteers will explain the process to residents on the doorstep before testing kits are then posted through the letterbox and then collected later that day. Both previous exercises saw a fantastic response from residents with well over 90% of tests completed and returned.

Around one in three people who are infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms, so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission.

With its targeted approach, Surrey’s community testing programme is aimed at adults who cannot work from home during national restrictions. Regular symptom-free testing will help reduce the prevalence of the virus in the highest risk areas.

Surrey County Council has more information on how to get a test and to check the map of the selected areas.

Talk Plus – Open as usual
Talk Plus is currently accepting referrals for free NHS counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy. Talk plus offer a range of appointment types to suit specific needs and have adapted the way they offer appointments. Due to stay safe, stay at home guidelines telephone calls, video calls, and instant messaging sessions are available. You are able to refer online.

If people would like to access this service, they need to be aged 16+ and their GP surgery located in either Yateley, Fleet, Farnborough, Aldershot or Farnham. Individuals can speak to their helpful staff to see how Talk Plus can help with feelings of stress, anxiety, low in mood or depression. If a GP is outside of these areas then it is possible to check on the NHS website to find a Talking Therapies service in a closer area.

For more information, please contact Talk Plus: Telephone: 01252 533355

Action for Carers’ programme of events online continues
Action for Carers Surrey helps local unpaid carers of all ages, with free information, practical help, emotional support, events, advice and more.

Free events are available to give carers a chance to relax or to get vital information. Most sessions are now on Zoom, and events include mindfulness, laughter yoga and craft activities, plus practical sessions on topics like autism, carers rights, and emergency planning. Carers might like to join a support group and meet other carers in a similar situation, such as looking after someone with dementia or a child with a disability.

For further information or to access support, please visit Action for Carers

Alternatively, Action for Carers can be contacted via: Telephone: 0303 040 1234 Text: 07714 075993 Email: CarerSupport@actionforcarers.org.uk

End of life care website for carers launched
A new online resource brings together a wealth of practical, legal and financial information for Surrey carers who are caring or who have just lost a loved one, as well as advice on coping with grief and where to go for support after caring. It also includes specific information targeted towards young carers and parent carers.

Caring to the End is the culmination of a project developed by a multi-agency group of professional practitioners from the health and social care sectors, hospices, and voluntary sector providers who are working together to support unpaid carers. More importantly, the group consulted carers and former carers who had experience of end of life care and who were instrumental in the scope and design of the website and assisting with specialist content.

Professionals who are supporting carers at one of the most challenging times in their lives are encouraged to use, and promote, the website and draw upon the valuable information and resources for practical help as well as looking after the health and wellbeing of carers, following a bereavement.

Healthwatch Surrey’s latest Insight Bulletin published
Healthwatch Surrey’s February insight bulletin highlights some of the themes that local residents have spoken about recently. It is not a scientific exercise – people report what has happened in their own words, and over 100 unique experiences are recorded every month. The Insight Bulletin is intended to add insight and enrich understanding of the citizen and service user journey.

If there is something you would like to hear more about, please email Kate Scribbins: Kate.Scribbins@healthwatchsurrey.co.uk

Fuel voucher pilot scheme launched
Surrey Community Action is launching a new scheme, as part of the Warmth Matters advice project, designed to help the many people in Surrey who are facing a choice between heating and eating.

The scheme helps people who are struggling to pay for their energy with information, advice and guidance on ways to save energy, as well as providing emergency fuel vouchers to help families top-up their pre-payment meters in times of crisis and financial hardship

Surrey Community Action is inviting those who receive a winter fuel allowance and feel they don’t need it, to donate all, or part of it via Virgin Money – fundraising page.

New Area Director appointed in Adult Social Care
Paul Richards has been appointed to the post of Area Director for Adult Social Care in Mid Surrey and will join on 22 February 2021

Paul has a strong background in leading and managing integrated services. Since qualifying as a social worker in 2000, Paul has worked in disabilities services and older adults’ services in Kensington & Chelsea, followed by a career in mental health services in Southwark where he trained as an Approved Social Worker.  After a period leading Social Care in forensic services for South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Paul has spent the last seven years as a Head of Service for Adult Social Care in Croydon where his portfolio included Substance Misuse Services, Integrated Adult Mental Health Services and where he has held the role of Principal Social Worker.

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