Friday, 27 March 2020 00:00

Great Yarmouth Borough Council helps communities stay safe at home during Coronavirus pandemic

Written by  David Wiles
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Sheila Oxtoby, CEO of GYBC Sheila Oxtoby, CEO of GYBC

Staff from across Great Yarmouth Borough Council are forming a new Community Team that is working with volunteers to ensure all residents can stay safe indoors during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Town Hall has been transformed into a storage and distribution hub for non-perishable food, which is all going to keep community-run food banks stocked up and ensure they can continue their good work during a time of increased demand. Residents who require food parcels delivered must continue to access these via the food banks, as the council is not supplying food parcels directly to the public.

More than 100 council staff are being redeployed from non-essential roles into supporting the Community Team with priority work, including assisting food banks, resident welfare checks, medicine delivery, administering Government relief funding and moving homeless people into suitable temporary accommodation.

The council is buying food to top-up community-run food banks and is appealing to local food suppliers, wholesalers and supermarkets for bulk donations, which are being sent out when needed from the Town Hall to the local food banks.

Local supermarkets, holiday parks and other businesses have kindly made donations, including 800kg of pasta. The council has also brought in a refrigerated trailer for the Salvation Army to help the charity store the huge influx of surplus perishable food donated by holiday parks.

From Monday, residents should look out for a letter going to all Norfolk households which has useful freephone numbers which people can call for advice or support if they are self-isolating and have no family or neighbourly support. 

Cllr Carl Smith, the council leader, said: “A multi-agency response is well underway across Norfolk to support communities through these difficult and unprecedented times, with the borough council taking the local lead on our community response, along with our voluntary and community sector partners.

“Together, we’re doing everything we can to support our communities through this fast-developing situation, especially our most vulnerable residents, in order to help all our residents follow the Government direction and stay safely at home. I would like to pay tribute to the sterling efforts of our council staff, volunteers, partners and NHS during these challenging times.

“We are there to help our communities and we all have an important part to play in protecting the NHS and saving lives. Please follow the Government’s important advice and rules around staying at home, working from home if possible, maintaining social distancing and good hygiene.”   

Sheila Oxtoby, the chief executive, said: “The whole council is responding to the pandemic, and I would like to thank all the council staff from across our teams who have willingly taken up the call to support the Community Team. I must also thank all businesses who have donated food. 

“This is an incredible effort and it’s definitely not business as usual at the council. We ask for public patience and understanding, as some of our normal services will need to stop or be different for a while as we focus on essential services: those services that are needed to support communities, maintain public health and safety, and save lives.”

If you are a business and are able to donate non-perishable food items, please contact david.helsdon@great-yarmouth.gov.uk (telephone 01493 846343) or laura.goodman@great-yarmouth.gov.uk (telephone 01493 846125) to arrange either a collection from your business premises or a drop-off at the Town Hall. If you are a member of the public and wish to donate food items, please donate these directly to the food banks.

If you are a resident or community group and you would like to help with the community response, please register to volunteer through the Voluntary Norfolk website and/or make a donation to the appeal led by the Norfolk Community Foundation. Donations received will allow the local organisations involved to carry on their vital care and support work during this challenging time.

Last modified on Friday, 27 March 2020 23:14

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