Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Project Eagle - Enhanced Covid-19 testing in parts of Streatham and West Norwood

 

Following an announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care, yesterday, Lambeth council is asking residents living in specific parts of the south eastern area of the borough (i.e. the area in and around Knight’s Hill ward, but also including  small parts of West Norwood and some streets in Streatham) - outlined in red on the map below, to get a Covid-19 test, whether they have symptoms or not, after the South African strain of the virus was detected in the local area. 

It is important to stress that this is an isolated case – it is not an outbreak.


The case was not linked to travel to South Africa, so the public health team are now working intensively with the Department of Health and Social Care to detect if there are more cases of this variant in the local area, as part of a ‘surge testing’ programme. You may have seen information on the media recently, where similar exercises have been carried out in places in London such as Ealing, Haringey and Merton.

Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, every household living in the specific area over the age of 16 will be strongly encouraged to take a PCR Covid-19 test over the next week or two, even if they are not showing symptoms. There will be 2 Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) in the area, which will be deployed to offer PCR testing, with teams working together to deliver thousands of home testing kits to local residents.

There is currently no hard evidence to suggest this variant is more serious than others, or that the existing approved regulated vaccines would not protect against it. In fact, the companies who have developed the three currently approved vaccines are already working to find out how they may need to be adapted to offer very high protection against the emerging variants of Covid-19. Just like the annual flu jab, this would mean tweaks to the vaccine would require an annual injection.

In combination with following the lockdown restrictions and continuing to wash hands, keeping socially distanced from others and wearing face coverings, this local testing of about 10,000 people in the area will help to suppress and control the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the new variant. 

Anyone living in the area who needs to leave home to attend work, school/childcare or undertake caring responsibilities can still do so in line with the current lockdown rules. This includes attending any healthcare appointments.

Only a very small number of cases of the South African variant have been detected in London. Positive tests will be tracked by Public Health England to identify any further spread of the new variant, enabling a better understanding of the variant itself and identifying if there are any more cases of this particular strand of the virus in the area.

If someone tests positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of anyone they have been in contact with to NHS Test and Trace when requested.

This is concerning news for all of us– especially if you live in the area, live very nearby or if you have visited recently. The aim of Project Eagle is to urgently detect any cases and help crack down on the new variant.

A map and postcode look up of the affected areas along with further details on this urgent programme of work can be found on the council’s main website, here: www.lambeth.gov.uk/enhancedtesting

Monday, 8 February 2021

Can you help? Volunteer opportunities in Lambeth

 

Home Start Lambeth

Do you have parenting or childcare experience and skills? Home-Start Lambeth volunteers provide support, friendship and practical help to families with at least one child under five who are experiencing difficulties. They’re reaching out for volunteers who can give about an hour per week for 6 months minimum (times can be flexible to suit both you and the family you are supporting).

Volunteers will:

  • offer support tailored to the needs of the families over the phone, via Zoom and/or via socially distanced meet ups
  • build a supportive relationship with the family in which the challenges of family life can be discussed, positive strategies encouraged, and also encourage parents’ strengths and emotional well-being so they can best support their children
  • encourage families to widen their network of relationships and to use the support and services available in the community effectively

You’ll need to be able to be reliable, a good listener, and maintain confidentiality while recognising that there may be situations when disclosure is essential to the welfare of a child. Training will be provided online.

Your own experiences and skills can help another family more than you could imagine – Home Start would love to hear from you.

 Age UK – digital neighbours

Age UK Lambeth want you to get involved in their exciting new project 'Digital Neighbours'.  

'Digital Neighbours' help Age UK Lambeth clients to get comfortable online to overcome the digital divide, with all the social and life benefits that brings.  This is a community-based volunteering role in which the volunteer becomes something of a local digital hero in their neighbourhood.

The role is to provide basic digital support and learning to Age UK clients in your neighbourhood, over the phone or on Zoom. This could be anything from helping people get familiar with facetime, savvy with search engines or brave buying things online, all the way through to helping someone solve a scary error message or even to just ‘turn the bleeding thing on’! 

The role is very flexible, so you can fit Digital Neighbour tasks around work and other responsibilities.  Age UK hopes that helping in your local area fits nicely into everyday life – let them know if you’d like to find out more

Copes Pharmacy Streatham – Covid vaccine marshals

Copes Pharmacy, 570-572 Streatham High Road, is a new covid vaccination site, starting this week.

For now, Copes need your help on weekdays, helping to ensure the safe flow of the people being vaccinated from the time they arrive to the time they leave - checking patients are on the appointment list, checking temperatures, reassuring patients and preparing them for the vaccination.

The first shifts they need to cover will be 9am-2pm and 2pm-7pm next week. PPE will be provided. Social distancing will be managed. Please note Copes is at the far southern end of Streatham High Road – can you help?


Thursday, 28 January 2021

Families SW London magazine available on line

“Families SW London” continue to help local parents in these difficult times — providing useful information and ways to put parents in touch with local businesses.

 The latest issue can be accessed via the link below:

 

Here's the latest issue:

http://bit.ly/FSWJan21Digital

 

You can sign up to future issues here free:

https://bit.ly/subscribetoFSW 

Friday, 22 January 2021

Spires – The Challenges of the Covid 19 Pandemic.

As Councillors in Streatham we are extremely proud and grateful that the Spires is located here, and in awe of the services they provide to some of our most vulnerable residents. 
Those who find themselves without a secure home rely on the company, support, meals, fresh clothes, and a chance to shower that the Spires provide every weekday.

I was in touch with Nigel Carpenter, CEO of Spires, recently to find out how they are coping during the lockdown restrictions and this is what he told me:

"The last few months have been a challenging time for us all, not least for those without a place to call home.

 At Spires, we have seen people in really desperate situations; women suffering domestic violence, families told to leave their accommodation because jobs have been lost and they can’t afford the full rent and, as always, those who live on the streets for whom Spires is a lifeline.

 Throughout the Covid 19 Crisis we have remained open, albeit, with a reduced service. Our “Social” groups had to stop, but we continued to offer a breakfast to rough sleepers every weekday morning and established ourselves as a hub for the Lambeth Streetlink Team. Together, we got 50 people off the streets and into hotel/B&B accommodation. Many were without recourse to public funds and Spires provided food parcels to keep them going during lockdown when they were unable to work.

We maintained contact with many of the vulnerable women who use our services. We provided emotional support to those who were isolated and lonely, and practical support, by way of regular food parcels, for those at the highest risk from a Covid infection.

 We set up a Freephone number (0808 164 5246) to make it easier for those in need to make contact and arranged socially distanced assessment and key work meetings. I am proud of the work the team have done over the last few months; giving up and furloughing staff was not an option we felt able to consider.

 We don’t know what the next few months will bring, but the last 30 years has shown us that, when things get tough, it is the most vulnerable in our community that suffer the most. We have no doubt that Spires’ services will be in high demand in the months ahead.  We expect unemployment and eviction rates to rise and need to prepare for those who turn to us in need.

 Meeting people’s most basic need for food is essential but Spires can do so much more. Our staff work with individuals on a one-to-one basis, complete a full assessment of their needs and agree a plan that gives them the opportunity to take back control of their lives and regain their security".

 If you would like to donate to The Spires and support their work, please go to:

http://www.spires.org.uk/ 

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

National lockdown - please stay safe, stay at home

On Monday evening, the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown in response to the high rise in the cases of Covid-19 across the UK. This means major restrictions on all of our lives, and a switch back to the “stay at home” requirement that was in place last spring. This is an even more challenging time than the first wave of Covid-19, with more cases of the virus and more people in hospital, we are therefore being asked to stay at home.

The new restrictions allow people to leave home only to:

·         Go to work if you absolutely cannot work from home

·         Exercise once a day in your local area

·         Seek medical care or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)

·         Care for vulnerable people or to provide or seek childcare

·         And for a small number of other exemptions listed at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Primary and secondary schools have switched to remote learning apart from for vulnerable children and the children of key workers and this is in place until at least February half-term.

Please continue to follow the public health advice:

Wear a mask, stay at least 2 metres distance from anyone not in your household and wash your hands regularly.

If you have symptoms, please follow the NHS advice and get a test. The council has also now rolled out testing for those without symptoms in sites across Lambeth – you can find out more here.

Stay safe, stay at home and together we will get through the coming months

Useful contacts:

You can access support for yourself or a vulnerable person, whether on mental health, finances, employment or support for young people on the council website: https://beta.lambeth.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19

The Lambeth Larder website has an extensive directory of organisations and local community groups which can offer help, support & advice: www.lambethlarder.org

If you need to contact the council regarding services, Lambeth residents can contact the main contact centre on 020 7926 1000. If a face to face appointment is essential it can be arranged via 020 7926 9094, or by emailing lambethcustomerservices@lambeth.gov.uk

If someone you know requires urgent support please see the council’s Coronavirus (Covid-19) get urgent help for you or someone you know webpage.

The NHS is still open. All residents are urged to continue to access the NHS services that they may need including urgent and emergency services. You can access NHS services via the NHS App or www.nhs.uk/health-at-home.



Book a rapid Covid-19 test if you have no symptoms

This article can be found at:  https://beta.lambeth.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/book-rapid-covid-19-test-if-you-have-no-symptoms?medium=email&source=GovDelivery

Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, but they can still pass it on. You can get a quick free test at a local site in Lambeth to check if you have Covid-19, with results usually returned to you within an hour. 

These rapid tests are an important part of reducing the spread of Covid-19 in Lambeth as it will help to identify people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms but who are infectious and could spread the infection to others unknowingly. By getting tested and self-isolating if you have Covid-19, you can save lives and protect the NHS. 

Who can get a rapid Covid-19 test  

You can get a free rapid Covid-19 test if: 

§  You have no Covid-19 symptoms 

§  You live or work in Lambeth 

§  You are over 18 

We are particularly encouraging people who are at higher risk of being exposed to Covid-19 to get tested. This includes people who work in certain sectors, such as construction, education, emergency services, hospitality, leisure, personal care, frontline public sector roles, retail and transport. This list is not exhaustive, and you do not need to prove you work in one of these roles to get a test.  

Who cannot get a rapid Covid-19 test 

You cannot get a rapid Covid-19 test if:  

§  You have Covid-19 symptoms

§  You are under 18

§  You do not live or work in Lambeth 

If you have symptoms you should book a test through GOV.UK or by calling 119. The symptoms are a high temperature (fever), a new continuous cough, and loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. 

When and where to get a test 

Currently, you can get a test at the following locations: 

Lambeth Town Hall, open from 9am to 4.20pm

Brixton Windmill, open from 9am to 3.30pm

Brockwell Park, open from 9am to 3.30pm

You can get tested again after 7 days.

How to book a test 

You must book a test in advance; we do not accept walk-in requests.  

Book a Covid-19 test if you have no symptoms

You must not attend your appointment if you have any symptoms of Covid-19. 

You should attend your appointment on time to allow for safe registration and testing. If you are late, the centre will try to accommodate you, but we might have to rebook a new appointment if the centre is busy. 

What to bring with you to the appointment 

You should bring:  

§  confirmation of your booking - the confirmation email on your mobile device or printed out 

§  a mobile device to scan a QR or bar code on the test. There will be devices available if you don’t have your own 

§  a face covering (unless you are exempt)   

§  you may also want to bring a bottle of water, as we cannot provide water at the test site. 

§  do plan ahead - there are no toilet facilities at the test site 

How the test works 

The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. You can do the swab yourself, but there will be trained staff available if you need support. You can watch a video for a detailed explanation of the procedure. 

Once you have finished, the swab will be processed and analysed. Once the test is done, the swab is discarded. 

The rapid test is called a ‘lateral flow test’ - it does not need to be sent away to a lab and provides results very quickly, within an hour. More information about how Lateral Flow tests work, their safety and the validation process which they were subject to by Public Health England and scientists from Oxford University before being approved for use across the country, is available on the Public Health England website.

Getting your test results 

§  Results will be sent to you the same day via text message and/or email using the contact details you provided when booking your appointment.

§  The results are usually available within an hour – sometimes as fast as 30 minutes. 

§  You do not need to self-isolate whilst waiting for the test results, unless you develop symptoms of Covid-19.  

If you get a positive result  

You must self-isolate immediately and book another test with the national testing service. This is called a ‘PCR test’ and it will be analysed by a lab to confirm the result of your first, rapid test. 

To book a test, visit GOV.UK or call 119. 

If you are out or at work when you get your result please make your way home. Avoid using public transport if possible. If you are at work please inform your line manager immediately so that they can initiate their organisation's risk management plan – cleaning your work station for example.

Until the results of the second test are known, you and your household should self-isolate. Full guidance on how to self-isolate is available on GOV.UK.  

You might be eligible for support to self-isolate 

Self-isolating is essential to preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the community. The government has made a £500 support package available for eligible people.

If you get a negative result  

You do not need to self-isolate, unless you have developed Covid-19 symptoms, live with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or have been asked to self-isolate by NHS test and trace. 

However, a negative result does not fully rule out Covid-19 infection as there can sometimes be false negative lateral flow tests. This means you could still have the infection, but the test didn’t pick it up. This can happen because these tests only turn positive when there is a lot of virus growing in your nose and throat. 

This means that even after a negative test, to protect yourself and others, you must keep following the current restrictions and remember: Hands. Face. Space. 

Hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home - use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. 

Face – wear a face-covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. 

Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble. 

You cannot purchase these tests  

The UK Government has been purchasing testing kits for the public to use at approved local sites. The kits are not currently available to purchase on the market.  

The tests we provide at our testing sites are totally free of charge.


Saturday, 19 December 2020

Tier 4 restrictions introduced in London and the south east. Relaxation for Christmas mixing scrapped.

There is a new variant of the corona-virus which increases the transmission rate. Today the Government have announced that Tier 4 restrictions come into force in London and the south-east from 12.01 on Sunday morning.

Given the early evidence on the new variant of the virus, the potential risk means Christmas can no longer go ahead as planned

Those in tier 4 areas should not mix with anyone outside their household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place.

Across the rest of the country, up to three households can meet but this will be limited to Christmas Day only, rather than the five days previously set out.

There will be no relaxation on the 31 December, so people must not break the rules for new year’s.

Tier 4 restrictions are broadly equivalent to the national restrictions brought in during November.

In tier 4:

·         Residents must stay at home, apart from limited exemptions

·         Non-essential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities and personal care services must close

·         People must work from home if they can, unless this is not possible eg manufacturing and construction sectors

·         People should not enter or leave tier 4 areas

·         Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home

·         You can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space

·         Communal worship can continue to take place

·         The new variant is concentrated in tier 4 areas, he says, but is nonetheless present around the country.

·         Everyone in all tiers must stay local, he says.

·         Carefully consider whether you need to travel abroad, Johnson says, and follow the rules in your tier.

·         Those in tier 4 will not be permitted to travel abroad, apart from limited exceptions such as for work purposes.