Here is the text of my latest email update to constituents. You can receive my e-Citizen email updates by contacting me and asking to be added to my circulation list.
Some recent announcements are below.
Six school hubs are operating over the Easter Holiday period providing 08:00-18:00 childcare cover for key workers. The Council reports that the system is generally working well although the uptake has been modest.
Vulnerable and High-Risk people
The Council’s Shielding Programme is fulfilling requests for essential food supplies for vulnerable, self-isolating people within three days. The service is available to everyone who has received a letter from NHS Scotland. If you, or a vulnerable relative or neighbour, haven’t received such a letter and you need help, please let me know. If you think you ought to have received a letter, please contact your GP. More information on Shielding services is available here.
In line with government guidance, visits to allotments can be undertaken as exercise, as well as providing a source of fresh food. However, as you would expect, social distancing rules still apply. Visits to plots should be made only by individuals, not as households, and shouldn’t be undertaken if there’s a need to drive.
As I have previously explained, the suspension of garden waste and glass collections is partly due to reduced staff numbers on account of absences due to sickness. I now understand it is also because the normal collection crew of three to a vehicle has been reduced to two in order to maintain social distancing within the vehicle. This means the collection route takes longer to complete. I have asked the Waste team if they have considered 1) using redeployed staff to help, 2) asking an external provider for assistance and/or 3) providing a reduced frequency service instead. I understand that redeployment of staff is being actively pursued and that the suspension of services is being reviewed on a weekly basis. More information is available here.
One other word of advice – please wash your hands before putting your bin out, and after bringing it in, to protect the collection crew and you.
Financial Support for businesses
The Council is now taking applications for emergency cash grants from the Government’s Coronavirus Business Support fund. Worth £10,000 and £25,000, these non-repayable grants will help successful applicants stay in business and protect local jobs. Businesses which are yet to seek support are strongly encouraged to apply online to check eligibility. Relief from non-domestic rates is automatic.
Parks and Open Spaces
Joint patrols will be carried out by Police Scotland and Council staff over the Easter weekend focussing on key parks and open spaces, which may attract congregating groups and/or lack of social distancing. Key messages are being reinforced through social media and signage at these locations.
Astley Ainslie Hospital
To reduce the risks of Covid-19 infection of patients and staff, the NHS has posted notices at all entrances asking members of the public to cease using the grounds for walking dogs, exercise or play until after the pandemic is over. The NHS says this is a regrettable but necessary temporary restriction.
Looking after your mental health and wellbeing
The Scottish Association for Mental Health SAMH has lots of information, links and resources, as well as a list of organisations you can contact if you need to speak to someone urgently, as does MIND.
Help and advice for older people
Age UK has advice on staying well and what to do if you’re feeling anxious about coronavirus. If you are feeling lonely, you are not alone. Here are a couple of free helplines you can call -
- Age Scotland offer a friendly chat on 0800 12 44 222 (Mon-Fri 9am–5pm)
- The Silver Line has a confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice. It is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Call ANYTIME on 0800 4 70 80 90
If you’re worried about money, the Council’s Advice Shop team can talk to you about all sorts of topics including debt, benefits, foodbanks and gas and electricity costs. Call 0131 200 2360 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NHS Lothian launches drive-through test centre
NHS Lothian has transformed the Chalmers Sexual Heath Centre into a mass drive-though Covid-19 test centre with hundreds of staff being tested each day. You can read more about this here.
Support and Advice
This continues to be an anxious and uncertain time but I am ready to help in whatever way I can. As I write this, the sun is shining and the daffodils are blooming - Spring has definitely sprung! I wish everyone a safe and happy, if restricted, Easter weekend.
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I hope you find this practical advice and information helpful.
Councillor Neil Ross
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Morningside Ward