Resilience Partners are working together across the Highlands and Islands
19th March 2020
At today's meeting of the Highlands and Islands Local Resilience Partnership (HILRP) (Coronavirus/COVID-19,) members reviewed the emerging guidance from the Scottish Government on self and household isolation and the imminent closure of schools and nurseries which will impact on the staffing levels of all organisations and their capacity to carry out even core activities.
Resilience Partnership members are currently exploring how staff can be redeployed from business as usual, as part of the response to limiting the spread of the virus, into other areas where staffing is proving challenging. The group is also looking at appropriate roles for volunteers.
The aim of the national measures is to slow down the spread of the virus.
Ken Oates, Consultant in Public Health at NHS Highland said:"This is a rapidly evolving situation, which is without precedent. Sharing information across the Local Resilience Partnership and working together is the most effective way to help keep our communities and our staff safe."
Chief Executive of Highland Council and Chair of the HILRP, Donna Manson added:"As Resilience Partners, we have worked closely and successfully together for many years in the Highlands and Islands. We will continue, in this unprecedented situation, to support one another and do the best we can for the safety and protection of our communities and our staff. Work that also begins right now is planning for Recovery and how we can rebuild the economy and resilience of the region following what is going to be an extremely challenging period ahead of us all."
From Monday, a number of changes have been made in line with national guidance, to how we collect waste in order to protect staff, during the Coronavirus emergency. To protect our staff, and prevent the spread of Coronavirus on our waste collection routes we have improved social distancing measures in line with guidance and in discussion with union reps.
Highland Council will continue to provide school meals through e-vouchers to families throughout the school Easter break. This is to recognise the particular difficulties many families will be experiencing due to the Coronavirus emergency.
Learning and childcare hubs for the children of key workers will remain open across Scotland over the Easter holidays. The move will help support key workers in the NHS and other key sectors on the frontline of the response to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Highland Council is working hard to release business grants to eligible local businesses as quickly as possible. The Council has received over 2,000 applications since the scheme was introduced last week and has set up systems to process these applications quickly while ensuring the necessary information is received.
Since The Highland Council's dedicated helpline went live last Wednesday afternoon staff have dealt with over 1,600 calls. The helpline has been set to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support.
Council tax payers in Highland who have lost their jobs or are experiencing a drop in their income are being encouraged to apply as quickly as possible for a reduction in their council tax. This help, known as the ‘Council Tax Reduction Scheme', is available for lower income households, including home owners.
Around 19,000 business rate payers in Highland will not receive their annual rates bill this April. The Highland Council recognises the exceptional economic challenges for local business and has therefore decided to pause business rates bills in respect of financial year 2020/21.
What is 'shielding'? If you fall within one of the groups recommended to shield, you will have received a letter or text from the NHS. Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising contact between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
During this time of restrictions it is important that we all stay active, for our physical health and mental well being. Recreation outside is an important element of this, but it is essential that each of us practice good social distancing while outside.
The Highland Council has launched a free helpline to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support during Covid19. The single line number - 0300 303 1362 - will connect callers to relevant Council specialist teams and will operate Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.
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