Norfolk's response to coronavirus
Q&A with Doctor Louise Smith, Director of Public Health
What has been the most important aspect of your role during the Covid-19 pandemic?
One of the most visible, aspects of my role has been around making sure that key messages are getting out to and are understood by the public to prevent the spread of the disease in our county. Over the past eight weeks I have taken part in more than 30 interviews and Q&A sessions on the radio and in our local newspapers. Behind the scenes, the most important part of my role has been to make sure that all of our planning and response is led by the evidence and data available.
The public health team has been giving specialist support to partners in Norfolk and across the region, can you tell us more about that?
The public health team has been working tirelessly to support all our partners in Norfolk starting with providing the data, analysis and evidence for our local area to put numbers to plans - such as how many beds, ventilators or mortuary spaces are needed. We also give health protection advice to support schools, the use and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and some of our most vulnerable population, such as those who are homeless. We are currently coordinating a health protection response, alongside NHS and social care experts, to ensure care homes can manage any outbreaks.
We have agreed ways our providers of public health services such as the Healthy Child Programme and Smokefree Norfolk can work differently, so they can continue to provide essential services to those who need them. All our public health providers are now offering more ways for people to access services either by phone, web-based resources or one-to-one video consultations. As well as helping the service users, being able to continue to offer assistance helps to keep the pressure off other parts of the system such as GPs and pharmacies.
You will also have seen our wide-ranging information campaigns throughout the outbreak. These have concentrated on explaining the rules clearly and effectively, to prevent the spread of the disease in our county. We have also been developing information to help everyone stay well and resilient during these very challenging times.
Finally, as part of the national effort, our role has extended beyond the county, and we have released a small number of specialist staff full time to support Public Health England’s communicable disease control teams working directly to advise on who needs tests and how to care for people with the infection.
The team is working on data modelling to support the NHS – what does that mean in practice and how will it benefit Norfolk residents?
Models take what we know about a disease and a population and use it to develop an understanding about how that disease might spread. Early in the epidemic the council’s analysts calculated a model to predict how many cases were likely to occur in Norfolk, and throughout we have been comparing this model to the real data as it comes in. This is vitally important so we can make the necessary preparations to look after people, helping us to understand, for example, what capacity is needed in hospitals and intensive care units (ICU). Data modelling is invaluable in situations like the coronavirus pandemic, where time is of the essence.
How will the track and trace scheme work in Norfolk and how will it benefit residents?
One of the ways we can protect the public from infectious diseases, like coronavirus, is through contact tracing. If a person tests positive for coronavirus, Public Health England (PHE) will contact them to identify anyone who has had close contact with them during the time they are considered to be infectious. PHE will then go all out to find these people as soon as possible. Once they have made contact we can then give them the advice they need. We will work locally to help people who have been asked to go into self-isolation, and in situations where a larger number of people are affected.
Has Norfolk had a lower rate of coronavirus cases than the rest of the country? If so, why is this?
Overall in Norfolk our rate of coronavirus has been lower than the UK average, but there are differences between districts with numbers higher in the west. We don’t yet know why and the fact is we won’t have a full picture of the full impact of coronavirus in our county for some time.
In Norfolk we have worked really well together - with residents and communities, local authorities, NHS, the police and businesses - to help stop the spread and protect our county. But this doesn’t mean we can be complacent. The virus will be with us for some time yet and we all need to play our part in protecting each other. We still need everyone to apply common sense to their activities, respecting the social distancing requirements and staying at home wherever possible to protect our county.
Are you worried about other existing health issues which may have faded from public awareness whilst attention is focused on the pandemic?
Yes, it is always a concern that, whilst we are responding to an emergency, other health issues get missed. Across Norfolk we are continuing to provide services for people in need of care and support. It is really important that people know that they can still contact their GP, 111 online or call 111 for help.
It’s been reported that many people are feeling stressed by isolation and having to stay indoors. What is your advice for people who may be experiencing mental health issues?
The current circumstances we are living under are hard for many people, and the restrictions can put added stress onto individuals and families. It’s important to remember that the current restrictions are there to keep us safe, and it won’t be like this forever.
There are things we can all do to help us cope with being at home. Having a regular routine is important and keeping busy with new projects (or picking up old ones!) can help focus your mind on something other than coronavirus. Finding ways to relax is also helpful; there are lots of relaxation, meditation and mindfulness strategies on the internet. It’s also important to feel connected to other people – and that is more challenging when we’re very restricted in face-to-face contact. Catch up with family, friends, community or faith groups by phone or online.
There are also volunteers who can offer check-ins and chats to people who may be struggling on their own (call 0344 8008020). Remember, these are challenging times for most, and it’s OK to not feel OK. Talk to people and let them know how you are feeling.
For people to stay safe, what is the single most important thing they should continue to do?
One of the simplest things we can all do to prevent the spread of the virus is to wash our hands more often, for 20 seconds with soap and water. Where you can’t access soap and water, use hand sanitiser.
The government has also now advised we should wear a cloth face covering when out and about in public indoor spaces. So we should start to wear a cloth face mask or scarf in places such as shops.
Norfolk chosen for test and trace pilot
Norfolk has been chosen as one of 11 pilot areas in the UK for the Test and Trace Service.
Robust, comprehensive plans to deal with local outbreaks of coronavirus are key to allowing our residents to live their lives out of lockdown, so this scheme is a great opportunity for Norfolk to be among the first in the country to develop these.
Contact tracing is a proven, effective method of controlling the spread of infectious disease in countries around the world. We will now be working with local NHS and other organisations as well as the Government to develop a tailored outbreak control plan.
Work on the plans will start immediately. They will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.
Norfolk’s efforts will support the national rollout of the Test and Trace Service, in which everyone will need to play their part to stop the spread of coronavirus. Under the national Test and Trace Service, anyone who believes they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms should visit the NHS coronavirus website.
Lockdown in numbers
More than 3,200 emergency food box deliveries have been made to shielding and vulnerable residents
Set up to keep vulnerable people safe and well, the Covid-19 Community Response Fund stands at over £1 million (with a contribution of £100,000 from Norfolk County Council)
Over the Easter bank holiday weekend alone, we distributed over 500,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) items and 800 litres of hand sanitiser to care organisations
More than 3,500 people across Norfolk have volunteered to help within their communities. The volunteer effort has been developed with our partner organisations in Norfolk
Over 600 of our staff signed up for the skills bank, launched to ensure front line and critical services are supported as needed
27,730 digital titles were issued by Norfolk libraries through the Libby App in April - up 63% on the previous year
Since March, more than 108,000 unique visits have been made to the new coronavirus section of our website, which is regularly updated with the latest news and advice
11,648 coronavirus-related calls have been answered by our Customer Service Centre, of which 7,745 were dealt with by our advisors, with 3,903 sent on to the district councils for community support
Over 10,600 people have accessed Active Norfolk’s home workout resources, videos, and guides during lockdown
Public services working together
Norfolk’s public services have been working together throughout the coronavirus pandemic to protect people and minimise the disruption to key services.
This effort has been coordinated through the Norfolk Resilience Forum (NRF). The NRF is made up of the emergency services, councils, and other key organisations.
The forum has created working groups which have met daily to tackle the biggest challenges we have been facing as a county.
This includes making sure we look after our most vulnerable residents, that vital infrastructure is maintained, our key workers have what they need and that we are doing everything we can to minimise and delay the spread of the virus.
The forum’s work have been overseen by the Strategic Coordination Group (SCG) led by Tom McCabe (pictured above). Tom is Executive Director and Head of Paid Service at Norfolk County Council.
The NRF has also worked closely with central government and the military to support the national fight against coronavirus.
Great response to Covid-19 – but a £20m shortfall
Norfolk County Council and its partners have responded “magnificently” to the challenges of coronavirus – but the pandemic will hit the council’s budget and local businesses.
So far, the cost to the council has been £63m, in terms of supporting vulnerable people and the care market, plus purchasing personal protective equipment and loss of income.
The Government has provided £43m so far but that leaves the council with a budget pressure of £20m.
Council leader Councillor Andrew Proctor said there had been a “magnificent response” from the council, its partners and communities and attention was also turning to restarting the economy – which, according to the Centre for Progressive Policy is predicted to see a 41 per cent hit to gross value added.
Councillor Proctor said: “Although the Government is offering support to a range of sectors, there will still be a big impact on our economy. The council and all partners in Norfolk are working with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to devise the best strategy to recover from this economic shock.”
Councillor Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said: “We are doing what it takes to support the public during this pandemic – but there is no doubt we will take a financial hit, due to lost savings, additional costs to services and loss of income.
"We were already urging the Government to provide sustainable future funding for councils. This is more important than ever, due to the impact of the pandemic and how that will change the shape of services.”
The council’s decision-making cabinet – and the scrutiny committee, which holds it to account – are having virtual, online meetings during the current restrictions. You can view the recording of the cabinet meeting on 11 May here and the agenda and meeting papers here (details of Norfolk County Council’s response to coronavirus can be found in Appendix A). The next meeting is on Monday 8 June at 10am. You can view a recording of the scrutiny meeting on 27 May here and the agenda and meeting papers here. The next meeting is on Tuesday 23 June at 10am.
Protect Ourselves, Protect Norfolk
Norfolk residents have been fantastic in the responsible way they have approached the lockdown. We are now asking everyone to keep working together to stop the spread of coronavirus as new Government guidelines come into force.
As the restrictions are relaxed on spending time outdoors and meeting more members of other households, our eye-catching campaign encourages the public to keep respecting social distancing and behave in a way that will help us all protect ourselves and protect Norfolk.
Working as a key member of the Norfolk Resilience Forum, which is made up of organisations across the county, we are encouraging residents to keep doing ten key things:
- Keep staying at home as much as possible
- Keep contact with others to a minimum
- Keep working safely
- Keep safe when outside
- Keep our hands and faces clean
- Keep self-isolating if anyone in our household has symptoms
- Keep travelling safely
- Keep staying safe at work
- Keep shielding ourselves if we are vulnerable
- Keep exercising and enjoying outside space safely
These simple steps are being shared via colourful online posters across the county council and its partners’ Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The social distancing guidelines, asking everyone to observe a 2m minimum distance between themselves and others, remains in place, and those who are able to work from home are being urged to continue doing so wherever possible. Please don't forget, individuals acting responsibly will play a key part in keeping the infection rate down and protecting others.
‘Stepdown beds’ - a safe space for Covid-19 patients to recover
Many Covid-19 patients who recover and are fit enough to be discharged from hospital go home, but some need a bit more care before they’re ready to follow. A new care unit in Cawston (pictured above) is helping these people through the next stage of their recovery.
Providing what are known as ‘stepdown beds’, the unit frees up beds in Norfolk’s acute hospitals and provides a safe space for those leaving hospital to recover instead of discharging them into existing care homes, where residents need to be shielded from the virus.
Opened by Norfolk County Council and Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) just one month after the lease for the site was signed, the unit is staffed by the county council’s Norfolk First Support, working together with Hales and Independence Matters. These experienced carers are looking after service users and creating a safe environment for recovery by maintaining strict standards of hygiene and safety.
The site is funded by the NHS Covid-19 funding.
More than 600 sign up for skills bank
At the beginning of the pandemic, Norfolk County Council developed a ‘skills bank’ to enable the effective redeployment of staff to critical support roles across the organisation.
Over 600 of our staff signed up and are assisting with a wide variety of tasks, from delivering food and medicine through to supporting our frontline social care teams.
Food and personal protective equipment (PPE) to support vulnerable people are being delivered from a council-run distribution centre staffed by redeployed Norfolk County Council workers, on behalf of the Norfolk Resilience Forum.
To support people during the coronavirus pandemic, supplies arriving at the base are sorted and delivered to district councils, who then deliver them to vulnerable people on the shielded list if they haven’t received their doorstep delivery, or if they have specific dietary requirements. The base is also being used to distribute PPE to hundreds of health and social care organisations across Norfolk.
Supporting businesses, health workers and volunteers
Working with business leaders and other Norfolk councils to support small local businesses, health workers, and volunteers across the county has been a key partnership endeavour for the county council.
Our key partners have included the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and city, district and borough councils.
We are keen to help ensure appropriate support is in place. To better understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on current and future business, a survey has been circulated to small businesses including butchers, green grocers and pharmacies. These businesses are at the sharp end of service delivery and are vital to the resilience of the county, particularly in rural communities.
The survey can still be completed here and businesses can access a range of help and advice on the county council’s Support for Business pages.
A simple parking permit has launched to ease the way for health workers and community volunteers, who are helping people across Norfolk. This was brought together as a result of the county, city, borough and district councils coming together to create the new permits. These allow free parking in all council run car parks, in on-street pay and display bays, and permit parking and time limited waiting bays. They are for key workers and community volunteers, initially for three months but this will be extended if necessary.
Norfolk Resilience Forum distributes over 1.7 million pieces of PPE
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) has rarely been out of the headlines. There have even been concerns that some frontline services could run out of PPE altogether.
In some cases, disruption to global supply chains has been a factor as well: a care home in Norfolk found themselves critically low on essential PPE, despite having orders in place and re-orders lined up, when suppliers were running a two-week waiting list.
Worried that their supplies would run out before they received the stock they were waiting for, the care home contacted Norfolk County Council who are running the emergency delivery supplies to health and social care providers on behalf of the Norfolk Resilience Forum (NRF). They received a reply the same day and confirmed that an emergency supply of aprons and gloves would be delivered within 24 hours.
This is only one example of the work underway, which since 23 March has seen over 1.7 million pieces of PPE sourced by Norfolk County Council added to the NRF’s hub for distribution to those who need it most. This has included 677,000 aprons, 250,000 gloves and 800,000 masks to meet urgent need.
As a result of this work, and along with the support Norfolk County Council’s Adult Social Care team has offered to care providers in sourcing their own PPE, no care homes in Norfolk have run out of PPE over the past few months.
The procurement and distribution of PPE will continue to be a high priority for the NRF, which is building on the good work done so far and aim to ensure none of our carers run out of vital equipment as they battle the pandemic.
Recycling centres up and running again
Eight of the council’s largest recycling centres re-opened on Monday 11 May. Re-opening some sites enabled householders to dispose of any waste and recycling that had built up at home since the Government’s lockdown announcement on 23 March.
At first, the sites opened with a restricted service for cars only, but thanks to the fantastic public response, staff were soon able to welcome vans and trailers. With eight sites open, we were seeing around 2,400 visitors a day.
Norfolk residents are playing their part and making a huge contribution to the smooth running of the recycling centres by being patient, following directions from site staff, maintaining two metres physical distancing and trying to avoid peak times.
We now have 12 sites open and plan to open more in the coming weeks. The 12 sites open from 9am to 5pm are:
Caister, Dereham, Hempton, Ketteringham, King’s Lynn, Mayton Wood, Mile Cross, Sheringham and Thetford, Ashill, Strumpshaw and Heacham
From the 1 June, Mile Cross Recycling Centre only will increase opening hours to 9am to 7pm seven days a week.
Please check the website for all the latest information and for guidance on using Norfolk County Council recycling centres during Covid-19.
Norwich Castle: Royal Palace Reborn
Work on Norwich Castle Keep’s £13.5 million transformation project is continuing to make good progress behind-the-scenes.
The Normans built the keep as a palace fit for a conquering king. Now, thanks to major support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and many other funders, visitors will be able to experience the keep as it was in its royal heyday.
The lockdown has prevented any works on site but the project team has been embracing technology to share computer screens with architects, structural engineers and exhibition designers.
Norwich Castle’s design and technical team are working remotely on displays for the new British Museum medieval gallery. With nearly 1,000 objects to display, one designer described the process as being like a game of Tetris. The resulting displays will present these wonderful objects elegantly, while telling compelling stories of the lives of people in medieval times.
Lockdown has also not deterred the castle’s remarkable team of tapestry volunteers. Work on the Bayeux-inspired Norwich Friends Tapestry continues in living rooms across the county. Some are completing panels for the tapestry, others are working on complementary sewing projects, including richly-coloured banners for the recreated Norman spaces in the keep.
So, while this is a challenging time for everyone, Norfolk Museums Service is looking to the future and is committed to delivering this important project for the people of Norwich, Norfolk and beyond.
Royal Palace Reborn
- Royalty Revealed: We’re re-creating the palace of Norman Kings – one of medieval Europe’s most important buildings
- The People’s Palace: For the first time in 900 years everyone will be able to explore all five levels of the Keep – from basement to battlements
- Medieval Treasure: The British Museum’s first medieval gallery outside London will bring treasures of international importance to Norwich
- Keep Learning: More than five years of events and activities will open up the medieval world to all ages
- A Jewel in the Crown: Norwich Castle will take its place as one of the UK’s premier heritage attractions
Rooting for Nature – let’s get Norfolk composting
Thousands of Norfolk residents are already composting at home. Why not be one of them?
Norfolk County Council is spreading the word about the benefits of home composting and is encouraging people to use their garden waste, fruit and vegetable peelings to make their own compost.
With the weather getting warmer and many of us spending more time at home, it’s a great time to be out in the fresh air, getting started on a new project. Now more than ever, we are learning that getting back to nature is good for our health and wellbeing.
Producing your own nutrient-rich fertiliser for your soil also increases the biodiversity of your garden, helping worms and other mini-beasts to thrive and providing food for wild birds.
Over 90,000 compost bins have been distributed across the county in recent years. This has helped to recycle an estimated 14,245 tonnes of waste each year. This impressive team effort by the people in Norfolk has made a huge difference to the environment by cutting down on the amount of waste sent for disposal.
A recent Facebook Live composting event attracted 70 viewers at its peak. Join us for our next Facebook Live event – a Home Composting Q&A on Wednesday 24 June at 7pm.
The council works in partnership with Garden Organic, to organise a network of master composters across Norfolk who raise awareness of the benefits of composting. We’ve also teamed up with Get Composting to offer a range of discounted composting bins.
Find out more about composting and order a discounted compost bin.
Community hubs are here to help
In response to the coronavirus pandemic we have worked with district and borough councils across Norfolk to set up community hubs to help people who are:
- Listed as being under the ‘shielding’ measure from coronavirus under the Government’s guidance for those with specific medical conditions (those who have received a letter from the NHS)
- Those who are considered vulnerable
If you are in one of these groups and you are finding one or many aspects of life difficult to manage, or know someone who is, our community hubs will link you up with voluntary or community organisations that can help you with a range of tasks and support.
Help is on offer for many everyday tasks including:
- Accessing food and deliveries
- How to get your prescriptions
- Walking your pet
- Advice on benefits and other financial support
- Advice on how to stay well and active
- Arranging emergency home and heating repairs
- Accessing online services for people without internet access
If you or someone you know needs any help during this difficult time, please contact us on 0344 800 8020.
With advice starting to change, the Norfolk Resilience Forum is reminding Norfolk residents that those shielding should not go out to work, to shop or visit friends in their homes.
Call for donations to help vulnerable families learn at home
Businesses across Norfolk have responded to a call for learning resources and stationery to help families tackle learning at home.
With most children not at school, families have had to rapidly adjust to teaching their children at home. It’s a challenging time for everyone but some families are finding the current circumstances particularly hard.
In partnership with the district councils, Norfolk County Council asked businesses to donate additional learning resources like games, activities, notebooks and pens, which alongside those given by schools, will help children in their local area to keep learning.
The response has been fantastic and there is still time for more businesses to get involved. Your donation could make a huge difference to a local family. If you can help please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and location, and the items you would like to donate.
Helping people in financial need
Our Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS) team has been at the frontline of helping people in desperate financial need during the crisis in Norfolk. The team awards people emergency financial support to help with urgent needs for food, cash and household items, such as white goods and beds. As part of the service, they also refer people on to appropriate support organisations for further assistance.
Since the pandemic started, demand on the service has increased dramatically - they saw more than four times the number of applications for help during April than the same period last year.
One example of the amazing work NAS has been doing to help the community is that of a lady whose young son has a rare autoimmune disease and his medication needs to be kept in the fridge. She called the service extremely worried as her fridge had broken. This situation was made a priority and a fridge was delivered within 48 hours.
Please visit the NAS website to see if you are eligible for support and how you can access it.
Donations of goods for redistribution - such as white goods in working order, sofas, dining tables and chairs, bedroom furniture, bookcases, lamps, curtains, bedding and rugs - are always welcome. Please email Emmaus or the Benjamin Foundation for more details.
Council staff carry out thousands of telephone welfare checks
Adult Social Care have been running a programme of welfare checks with vulnerable people across Norfolk. The programme has been carried out by 60 staff with the aim of finding out whether people are OK, or if they need help with food, medication, wellbeing support or essential household functions.
By the end of April, staff had contacted 14,500 people. The checks revealed that about 30% needed some form of follow-up. In some cases this was a referral for additional support from the district council’s community hubs (for food, medication, wellbeing or household issues), an urgent follow-up for safeguarding concerns or a physical 'doorstep check' to see why the vulnerable person wasn’t responding.
A number of public health staff volunteered to take part in these checks and have shared their experiences. One staff member said: “Working on the welfare calls has been a meaningful opportunity to engage with a large number of our vulnerable and shielding residents across the county during this difficult time. The overriding response has been one of great appreciation for the phone contact, especially from those residents who are going through the lockdown on their own and experiencing feelings of real isolation and loneliness. The experience has been extremely moving and rewarding, both on a personal as well as professional level."
Another said: “Making calls has been a humbling experience, you are speaking with people who are vulnerable and shielding. Most people tell you they are doing ok, getting by and are supported by family and neighbours. However, you do have calls to people who are unwell, anxious, on their own struggling with health issues and lockdown boredom or recently bereaved. For every call you must be friendly, curious, thorough, caring, reassuring and reliable to follow up on any issues."
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service supports blue light colleagues
Norfolk’s firefighters have stepped in to help emergency services colleagues in new ways.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, firefighters have been driving emergency ambulances for the East of England Ambulance Service, helping paramedics gain entry to homes in medical emergencies, moving NHS supplies and assisting Norfolk Police at road traffic collisions and high-risk incidents.
In the first month of ambulance driving, 24 on-call firefighters carried out 278 shifts. A further 25 on-call firefighters were due to complete the second month of support, with up to 20 full-time firefighters also being trained to help.
At the same time, the service maintains its usual work and continues to respond to fire and rescue incidents across the county.
For home and business safety advice, phone 0300 123 1669 or email email@example.com
Always dial 999 in an emergency.
Norfolk libraries provide lifeline during lockdown
Libraries may still be closed but there are lots of online resources available - for all ages and both leisure and learning - to help you get through lockdown and beyond.
There are regular Storytimes, weekly Bounce and Rhyme sessions, reading challenges, heritage podcasts, virtual reading groups, cultural activities and a range of other offers online - for more information visit Library Services.
Online reference subscriptions available from home include Encyclopedia Britannica, Find My Past, Times Digital Archive, Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford Reference Library, and COBRA (Complete Business Reference Advisor). Login requirements may vary between titles.
The Business & IP Centre can answer enquiries by email or for more information visit Support for Businesses
Look in our Healthy Libraries Catalogue to see a range of mood boosting books. You will also find Reading Well booklists and many of the books are available as eBooks and eAudio books.
All borrowed items will be automatically renewed until further notice, and we are asking people to keep library books at home for the time being.
You will not be charged overdue fees, and any existing charges (as of 17 March) will not increase over time. This covers all items, including books, DVDs and music.
If you’re not already a library member, sign up online - you will receive an email that allows you to use on online services and then a library card in the post. If you already have a library card and just need to know your PIN, email us.
Online Adult Learning courses
Our Adult Learning service has made many of its learning courses available online, as well as launching a range of new online courses perfectly designed to keep you active, healthy and connected throughout lockdown.
Courses range from one-off digital help sessions through to vocational courses helping you explore a new career, with full support from our dedicated tutors and the Learner Services Team.
Learning also provides an excellent opportunity to improve your mental and physical health. There's a range of arts and crafts courses, from beginner to expert level, so that you can learn a new hobby or develop your skills - giving you the opportunity to get creative in a new way.
Search our wide range of adult learning courses.
Preventing isolation for refugees
Can you imagine being in lockdown somewhere where you can’t speak the language?
The isolation caused by lockdown is hard enough, but this is multiplied when you struggle to communicate. Our People from Abroad and Adult Learning teams have joined forces to solve this problem and support our Syrian refugees.
By sourcing and loaning laptops and 4G WiFi routers, they have ensured that every Syrian refugee household can connect to the internet. This means that not only can our staff keep in contact with them online, but they can also continue to attend their English classes, which Adult Learning are now delivering online.
Adult Learning are running classes twice a day Mondays to Thursdays for beginners and less frequently for more advanced classes.
Stay alert to potential scams
People are being urged to watch out for criminals who are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are just some of the scams our Trading Standards team is aware of, but it's worth remembering that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online and scams are evolving all the time:
- Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (Covid-19)
- People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication, asking for money upfront and then disappearing.
- People offering home cleaning services for ‘virus decontamination’
- People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy
- Emails and cold calls saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details
- There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money
- Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details, for you to withdraw cash to be collected, or transfer money to another ‘safe’ account over the phone
- There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom
If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and if you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999. Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed and you have given financial information.
To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit Friends Against Scams and complete the free online training.
Children and young people
Campaign to safeguard children reaches half a million
A wide-ranging campaign to safeguard children and young people has reached more than half a million people.
See Something, Hear Something, Say Something grew out of Norfolk County Council’s concern for the safety of children and young people during lockdown.
The majority of children and young people are still not in school, many are still not attending early years' settings and most are still unable to see their extended family and friends or take part in their usual activities. This can put vulnerable children at increased risk because they are largely behind closed doors and away from their regular interactions and the people who might notice if something is wrong.
See Something, Hear Something, Say Something asks neighbours, extended family and the wider community to look out for children and to report any concerns. The campaign also reached out to children and young people directly, reassuring them that help is at hand if they or one of their friends is feeling unsafe.
Backed by Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership, the campaign was led by Norfolk County Council and its partner organisations.
Anyone who is concerned about a child or young person, should call Norfolk County Council on 0344 800 8020
Children and young people who feel scared or unsafe can text Just One Norfolk’s ChatHealth on 07480 635060 or call Childline on 0800 1111.
Spot the signs
- Aggressive or repeated shouting
- Hearing hitting or things being broken
- Children crying for long periods of time
- Very young children left alone or outdoors by themselves
Heroes at home
Heroes at Home is a new campaign aimed at Norfolk’s young carers. Led by Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership and supported by carers organisations Carers Matter Norfolk and Caring Together, the campaign recognises the vital role young carers play in supporting their loved ones and highlights the range of support available to help them.
It’s estimated that over 11,000 children and young people in Norfolk are carers, helping to look after or support a family member or friend who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.
Being a young carer is an extremely challenging role in the best of times and during the current Covid-19 crisis, things may be particularly tough for many young carers. They may have to provide extra support to a family member and opportunities to get a break from their responsibilities, such as mixing with friends at school or in social groups, is currently not possible in the same way as it was before.
A Caring Together survey found that 79% of young carers are feeling isolated and nearly one in two young carers say they feel unable to cope.
Heroes at Home signposts young carers to the range of support that’s available via the Carers Matter Norfolk website and advice line.
A range of practical and virtual support is also available through partner organisations across the county. Caring Together provides an opportunity for young carers to have their voices heard and to help improve support for young carers through their Norfolk Young Carers Forum project.
Click for support and advice or a live chat online or call the Carers Matter Norfolk Advice Line on 0800 083 1148.
Molly is 17 and cares for several members of her family who are shielding during Covid-19, including some who do not live with her so she has to balance her time between her own house and other family members.
Molly cares for her dad, uncle and grandad who all have physical health issues and also her brother. Her day starts early and her many caring tasks include helping her mum to dress her dad, making food, assisting with mobility and giving emotional support. Molly also has to balance her caring responsibilities with her college work, to ensure she keeps up.
Since the Covid-19 crisis began, Molly has become increasingly anxious, worrying about the risk to her family if she should catch the virus. Her caring tasks have increased because her family members are shielding, and she feels very tired.
As a member of Norfolk Young Carers Forum, Molly is supported by Caring Together. She receives regular telephone calls to check how she is getting on and takes part in online groups to keep in touch with other young carers in her area. As she now has to self-isolate, she is linked to Carers Matter Norfolk to help her access practical support including shopping.
Supporting schools and early years
Supporting Norfolk’s 422 schools and academies and more than 900 nurseries, pre-schools and childminders during lockdown has been a huge endeavour for Norfolk County Council’s learning and inclusion team and its early years’ support service.
Schools and nurseries are all facing a range of challenging and complex issues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, in a rapidly changing environment.
Our broad range of support has included helping to ensure vulnerable children and the children of key workers have a school place, advising families on home learning and coordinating school transport. Our education professionals have also made sure all schools and settings have the most up-to-date advice and guidance from the Department for Education and Public Health England.
The council’s other specific support includes:
- Launching a £1.47m support package to provide financial help to childcare providers
- Working with schools to monitor the attendance of vulnerable children
- Working with community hubs to ensure free school meals are provided and assisting with the implementation of the new national voucher scheme
- Regular online meetings with headteachers
The teams are working intensively with primary schools and early years providers as they get ready to welcome more children back, starting from 1 June.
Despite all these new challenges, some things remained ‘business as usual’ and the council was delighted to ensure that 93.6% of reception-age children can go to their first choice of primary school in September.
Find more information, including the latest education news and updates.
Learning at home
The majority of children will still be learning at home after half-term.
The ongoing task of keeping children and young people happy, healthy and learning at home during lockdown, even if it has been eased, is no small challenge, so we have tips and guidance to help you. Most parents are not school teachers and cannot copy what would happen at school, but you should feel confident that you can still play a key role in helping your children learn at home.
- Our director of learning and inclusion has advised:
- Take time each day to plan with your children what you might want to do together
- Make sure the activities are short and are right for their age and ability
- Think of different types of activities, using the ideas online if you can access them
- Don’t forget you can ask your children to do all sorts of literacy or mathematical activities that relate to your family life, for example, compiling shopping lists and researching and adding up the costs
- Don’t forget each day to plan physical activity. For younger children the recommended hour might be broken up into smaller chunks of activity or games
Here is a selection of fun and educational activities hand-picked by our teaching and learning advisors from Early Years right through to post-16 and virtual schools teams from across the Eastern region. The resources, which are being regularly updated, are separated into activities and learning for pre-school; primary, secondary, special educational needs and disabilities and post-16.
All the activities have been chosen as good examples that can supplement - rather than replace - the learning that schools or educational settings will have provided. We recommend that you regularly check your school’s website and any social media pages they run for updates.
You can also view Norfolk County Council’s top tips for parents online.
Supporting families under pressure
Thousands of families across the county who might be struggling with the pressures caused by the coronavirus lockdown have received postcards through their doors or text messages to reassure them we’re still here to help.
Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services teamed up with Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services backed by the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership (NSCP) to reach out to those who may be finding things particularly tough because they were already struggling to cope with health issues, relationship problems and financial challenges before lockdown.
Thousands of colourful postcards featuring the rainbow, which has been a symbol of hope for so many during the pandemic, and tens of thousands of text messages were sent out to urge families not to struggle alone. The message was promoted on Facebook and Twitter by a number of agencies.
Families can still contact the Just One Norfolk helpline number on 0300 300 0123 or log on to www.justonenorfolk.nhs.uk for a range of support including emotional wellbeing, practical and mental health support and more.
Text, phone and online help for young people
A new phoneline and extended text messaging service have been launched followed by a brightly-coloured series of social media messages about online safety to help keep Norfolk’s children and young people safe at home and on the internet during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new phone number 0344 800 8029 is manned by children’s social workers at Norfolk County Council. In addition, the extended text message service ChatHealth, which can be reached on 07480 635060, is a very popular NHS texting service run by Norfolk Children and Young People’s Services offering help and advice to young people about a whole host of issues such as: keeping active, healthy relationships, staying safe and emotional health.
Children and young people can use the services if they are scared, or if they are worried about their friends or other young people.
Youngsters needing advice about online safety can find out more about the online advice campaign here.
The NSPCC’s Childline can be contacted on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk
Parents thank children’s portage service
The lockdown has proved challenging for a number of parents but for those with pre-school children with additional needs, the Portage team, part of Children’s Services’ Learning and Inclusion Service, has been a life-line to help their children stay active and engaged. As part of a special project, using the current trend of rainbows, the Portage team has worked with families in the virtual world to celebrate and thank the work of frontline staff and key workers.
Portage is a free home-based visiting educational service for pre-school children with additional needs. It is a recognised world-wide intervention which practices an intensive and sustained therapy while supporting parents/carers to help their children enjoy better outcomes, using the Small Steps to Learning approach, developed by the National Portage Association.
Melanie Warren, the Portage Strategic Co-ordinator said: “We were overwhelmed by the response and how it captured families’ imaginations, we created some amazing artwork to thank all keyworkers.”
Jennifer Madden, mum of three-year-old Aria, said of the Portage service: “It has provided us with someone to talk to and to discuss any difficulties we may be having. It has made us feel like we are not alone and there is always someone there who we can turn to if needed.
“They have helped us with tasks that have needed doing where possible and provided ways to keep Aria entertained. The service has been absolutely fantastic and they have gone out of their way to continue to support us as much as they can.”
Virtual events online
Bounce and Rhyme
Songs and rhymes are an excellent way of engaging with your little one, no one is too young.
Watch and join in with rhymes at home through our main Norfolk Libraries Facebook page every Tuesday morning at 10am.
You can also watch past sessions on our YouTube channel.
Join us for online children’s storytime every Monday and Wednesday at 12pm and Fridays at 4.30pm. Library staff have pre-recorded a reading of a story, so you can watch, listen and enjoy from home.
To watch and listen to the story, visit our main Norfolk Libraries Facebook page and the video will appear on the scheduled days and times.
To comply with publisher requirements, the video has to be deleted from our Facebook page shortly after the story has finished.
Brick building club
Brick building club is live on our Facebook page every Wednesday at 4.30pm. Join in to be set a new challenge and share your creations. You can watch past challenges on our Facebook videos page.
Although we cannot tour Mole and Gecko – The Show in Norfolk Libraries this month as planned, you can join in games, poems and raps with Simon Mole, poet.
How to write a poem in 10 minutes - fun interactive poetry tutorial for kids
This writing exercise helps young poets quickly generate ideas. By answering a series of simple questions children (or adults!) can write a poem using their favourite word.
Simon is also running weekly live poetry workshops on zoom, which are free to attend. 10am Tuesdays for 5-8-year olds, 11am 8-11-year olds. Sign up via Simon Mole's website.
Reading and podcasts
Norfolk Borrowers Facebook group
If you’re missing your book group or chatting about books with friends, then why not join our Norfolk Borrowers Facebook group? You’ll be able to share what you’re reading with others and get lots of recommendations to add to your ‘to be read’ piles.
Around the world in 80 books: classics in translation podcast
A podcast where we will read the first chapter of classic novels in translation. Join us for some all-time favourites such as The Count of Monte Cristo, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Don Quixote…as well as world masterpieces such as Sleepwalking Land and The Dream of the Red Chamber. Discover your new favourite novel of all time!
Each Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm we will release new tracks available via Facebook and our Around the World in 80 Books blog, where you can also follow the text.
If you would like to make a suggestion for a classic novel in translation to be read on the podcast, please send us your recommendations.
Escape with a poem podcast
Take a moment to unwind with our Escape with a poem podcast on the Soundcloud website. New episodes every Wednesday and Friday at 11am.
Summer Reading by the Beach Club
Our lovely Carly is starting a Summer Reading club for adults who want to set out some time to listen to something new every week. Join us on Zoom and listen to Carly bring uplifting stories to life and have a chance to discuss what has been read with no pressure to read aloud or having to read between sessions. A most relaxing activity suitable for everyone.
Booking is required for this activity, please email Carly
The Summer Reading by the Beach Club will take place online, via Zoom invitation, for five weeks in June. Join us every Tuesday in June at 11am.
How to attend: Sign up for a free account on Zoom and download it to your device (laptop, tablet or phone). Email Carly and receive your invitation. Log in and join her every Tuesday at 11am.
Virtual Just a Cuppa
We're running a virtual countywide Just a Cuppa group for adults, over the video conferencing platform Zoom. You'll be able to call in and see and chat to other people, while you have a cup of tea at home. The virtual Just a Cuppa is taking place every Saturday at 10:30am. If you would like to join in, or would like help to get started with Zoom, please let us know by emailing us.
Shut Up and Write
Facebook event page - Tuesdays 4-5pm
Do you struggle to find one hour to sit down and tackle that writing project you keep thinking about?
We have a weekly Shut Up and Write session online. The host will post some optional prompts and word count challenges at the beginning of each session, then we all shut up and write for 60 minutes straight.
The Library Gallery is showing work by artists from around Norfolk in partnership with Norfolk Open Studios
Get Knitting - tutorials
Thursdays 4pm on Facebook
Drop in and Draw
Fridays 3pm on Facebook
We provide the theme each week and ask you to share a picture of your drawings, or post
a comment about what you're drawing on our library Facebook Page.
Saturdays 1pm on Facebook
We will set a theme – all you need to do is take some photos and share them in comments. All our challenges are designed to be easy to do at home.
The Virtual Big Sing 2020
On 19 June at 2pm, Norfolk will be joining the Virtual Big Sing 2020 with some well-known artists from across the world. For further information and to sign up see the Norfolk Music Hub website.
The concert on 19 June is designed to be accessed by either students who are in school or for families who are home-schooling.
The Norfolk Heritage Centre Podcast
Explore our local studies collection and discover more about this beautiful county with The Norfolk Heritage Centre Podcast.
Recent episodes have included a potted history of 'The Second Air Division in East Anglia'; an interview with Tony Britten, Artistic Director for Holt Festival; and 'A Norwich Pub Quiz' which tests your knowledge of pubs in Norwich.
New episodes available every Tuesday at 10am.
Listen online or find us on your podcast app.
Museum events online
Throughout June, museums are hosting a series of brand new films for families at www.facebook.com/NorwichCastleMuseum at 10am every Monday.
8 and 22 June – Snap at Home
Songs and activities session for pre-school children and their adult carers.
15 June – Egyptians
Murder in the Workhouse
Become a detective and solve a murder in this new online murder mystery brought to you by Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.
Lockdown Living Room Escape Challenge
The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell challenges you to create your own escape game with Herbert the Historian. Watch our ‘how to’ films at www.facebook.com/MuseumofNorwich
Little Kippers at Time and Tide
Visit www.facebook.com/timetidemuseum every Thursday at 10am for under 5s activities.
Enjoy a virtual tour of one of our wonderful museums
The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell
Norwich Castle Keep