Cambridgeshire County Council update 20th May 2020

Council leaders working with schools for pupils to return ‘when it is safe to do so’

Education leads at Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council are working with schools, Academy Trusts and the Diocese from across the region to look at bespoke plans for the safe return of pupils – based on Government scientific advice which is expected to be released on 28 May.

While the final decision on when and how to open individual schools rests with their head teachers and the governing bodies who run them, the Government has encouraged schools to consider beginning to re-open education provision from 1 June. This will mean additional Primary provision for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils and Secondary schools working with pupils from Year 10 and Year 12 to ensure they are supported for important exams next year. Special schools will also begin to welcome more pupils.  In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough council leaders have confirmed, ‘the safety of our children, their families and school staff is always our number one priority and we are supporting schools to make decisions based on their individual circumstances’.

Schools have said it will be difficult to maintain the two-metre social distance guidelines at all times, particularly very young children, leading to problems with the number of children allowed on-site. There are also concerns about staff and children who fall into the very vulnerable ‘shielded’ groups.

Clear in the knowledge that there is no ‘one size fits all solution’, council education leads have been working with schools to create bespoke plans specific to each one and their circumstance, which include revised cleaning regimes, sourcing appropriate PPE, and allowing for phased re-openings.

As part of the plans, schools which have remained continuously open since February for vulnerable children and children of key workers, may close to all pupils for next week’s half term holiday – which includes bank holiday Monday.  This is to allow staff more time to plan for a phased return, including adapting their buildings to accommodate returning pupils.

The council has confirmed that – in line with government guidance – no penalty fines will be issued to any parent or carer who doesn’t send their child to school between now and the start of the next school year.  Clarification is also being sought from Government about the extension of free school meals for eligible children whether in or out of school. 

Nursery and early years settings are also being encouraged to re-open from 1 June, and have been asked to prioritise places for three and four year olds – along with vulnerable children and those of key workers.

Please visit the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough council websites for more information.

First-ever website for those shielding launched

The Countywide Coordination Hub, in collaboration with Cambridgeshire Skills, City College Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Library Service, launched a new interactive website this week to help people who are shielding to combat loneliness during isolation.

The idea for the website was borne out of the fact that one of the challenges for people who are self-isolating is being able to keep busy in their own home, and offers a set of leisure, pleasure and learning opportunities for shielded people to take part in. Additionally there are skills and courses within the site that will help users improve their skill set in their own professional environment.

This will include aligning the food deliveries from the hub to a healthy eating class, either online or via recipe cards for those that don’t have digital access. The food delivery from the hub will include all the ingredients needed to cook the meal that will be taught online or via the recipe card.

In addition, there will be sewing classes taught using instruction cards for those that have no internet access, which would be delivered with materials alongside the food deliveries.

There is a section of the website which supports families of pre-school children to help their children prepare to start school in September. Activities are aimed at creating quality family time as well as ensuring children have a good skill set ready to start school.

For those people who do not have access to a computer, information that is on the website will be sent through the post.

The councils have also made a bid for funding to set up a scheme where people can loan laptops or to supply those without digital access with tablets.

This will allow people to not only access the website, but engage with friends and family online and therefore limit feelings of loneliness with face to face contact.

Mental health helpline offers support to people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough throughout coronavirus outbreak

A mental health helpline offering support to people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has expanded its service to help more people during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Lifeline helpline, a free mental health support service, has been running for 21 years and was set up by local mental health charity Lifecraft. Due to the demand for support during the coronavirus outbreak, Lifecraft has joined forces with the local Mind charity – Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire (CPSL) Mind – and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT) to offer increased availability and longer access hours.

The service is now available for all adults in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough between 9am and 11pm Monday to Friday and 2pm to 11pm weekends and Bank Holidays. A trained call handler will offer support on the phone and can also link callers directly to other organisations specialising in areas such as bereavement, financial concerns, employment, drugs & alcohol issues and more.

You can access the helpline by calling freephone 0808 808 2121.

Charities such as Cruse, Change Grow Live, Citizens Advice Bureau, Richmond Fellowship and Caring Together are among numerous organisations supporting this initiative.

Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is all about kindness. The annual campaign is taking place from 18 to 24 May this year and just so happens to coincides with the 21st anniversary since Lifeline was set up. The purpose of the campaign is to get people talking about mental health and encourage action to promote good mental health for everyone.

The Now We’re Talking campaign has been launched by Local Authorities (including Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council), NHS and charities and community organisations to get people talking and beat loneliness while self-isolating during the coronavirus outbreak.

The campaign directs people to other services such as Qwell, an online wellbeing support and Keep Your Head, a website which bring together all mental health support available across the country.

For more information on ‘Now We’re Talking’ visit the Peterborough website here and the Cambridgeshire website here.

Dr Liz Robin vlog about new symptoms

Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, explains the new symptom associated with having caught the coronavirus infection and breaks down what the other two main indicators are, plus what to do if you have any of these three symptoms.

(If you have any of these three symptoms you should use the online NHS 111 coronavirus service or call NHS 111 if you cannot get help online. NHS 111 will tell you what to do.)

Click here to watch today’s Liz’s latest blog.

Senior public service figures celebrate Ramadan

Gillian Beasley, the Chief Executive of Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council took part in Iftar (breaking of the fast) at 8.58pm on Monday night along with local Muslim leaders after a day’s fasting as part of the council’s solidarity with people celebrating Ramadan.

Taking part with her were some senior figures from local public services – Director of Public Health Dr Liz Robin, Steve Cox, Executive Director of Place and Economy, Adrian Chapman, Service Director: Communities and Partnerships, Pete Carpenter, interim Director of Finance at Peterborough City Council, Jonathan Lewis, Director of Education and Superintendent Andy Gipp from Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

A video of the zoom meeting where the fast is broken following a recitation of the Holy Koran, and people taking part give their reflections of taking part in the fast before. It starts from 12mins 45s.