New Helpline for People Shielding Against Coronavirus

New Helpline for People Shielding Against Coronavirus Image

A new Dundee helpline is being launched today (Friday April 3) that will provide lifeline support and supplies for vulnerable people who have been advised to shield themselves against coronavirus, but have no way to access services.

The Freephone number 0300 123 1403 will allow those who have been identified by Scotland’s chief medical officer because of specific health conditions to speak to council advisers, who will then be able to target emergency aid directly.

This could include the urgent delivery of food, hygiene products and medicines if the person taking shielding precautions has no other method to access these vital supplies.

Dundee City Council is encouraging shielded people to seek the assistance of family and close friends first wherever possible, always following the Government advice to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. However, if they feel they need urgent crisis support, they can contact the helpline.

Council officials expect that in the face of a deteriorating situation, more and more people will need assistance and so the scope of the helpline could extend in the future.

The new number, which operates from Monday to Friday 8.30am-5pm, is the latest development in the council’s response to the emergency.

Already, the council has established eight Community Support Centres across Dundee, which are now open for childcare for children of key workers, and identified vulnerable young people.

As the crisis progresses, these centres will provide a range of coordinated support to assist people in their local community.  They will serve as local focal points for distribution and outreach services, as well as allowing the council to identify where intervention is needed. The centres are not open to the public.

The city council has worked with Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action to co-ordinate the recruitment and deployment of volunteers from the centres.        

Meanwhile, planning is well underway for emergency food distribution with the former Michelin site now designated as a central distribution facility for this operation.

Separately, the council is exploring methods of helping families who qualify for school clothing grants with free school meal entitlement from April 13, which would have been the start of the new term.

A single point of contact internet portal is being launched at www.taysidecares.co.uk   to help provide a joined-up response in the wider Tayside local resilience partnership area, which includes Angus and Perth & Kinross.

Members of the public continue to be encouraged to use Dundee City Council online services wherever possible, as well as email and telephone (contact 433129 for general enquiries or 431205 for Council Tax, Council Tax Reduction or Housing Benefit enquiries).

The website www.dundeecity.gov.uk signposts many sources of support during the Coronavirus outbreak, and provides a portal for online payments and services.

Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said: “Our new helpline is initially targeted at those particular individuals who are shielding themselves against the virus, and have no access to vital supplies.

“It is important that we can provide a safety net for these vulnerable people who are following national medical advice.

“This will include supplies where necessary and also access to support that could help with any financial or benefit problems

“I am impressed by the way agencies and staff are pulling together in Dundee to tackle the impact that coronavirus is making on our communities.

“Michelin have been extremely supportive and being able to locate our central distribution facility at the site will help provide an effective major logistical operation.

“We are also seeing hundreds of volunteers coming forward. Our communities are facing an unprecedented challenge and we are providing a strong Dundee response.”

Eric Knox, chief executive of Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action added: “There has been a huge amount of work done to keep people safe in a very short time and this is has been achieved by everyone pulling together. 

“The Third Sector providers are continuing to work hard to deliver food and other supplies to vulnerable people across Dundee.  The new measures will assist greatly in achieving the co-ordination and getting help to the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

John Reid, factory manager at Michelin Dundee, said: "Everyone is ready to do what they can to help. There's a real enthusiasm from our employees to get involved and to contribute to their communities. I never doubted that would be the case and once again I am proud of the Michelin Dundee team."              

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