Coronavirus / Covid-19 newsreel

This page has been set up to share basic information for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, on changes to services and teams in light of the Coronavirus.

It is not a page for national and international announcements, just locally relevant issues and practical steps being taken by partner agencies to help reduce the spread of the virus; and to help residents stay safe and well.

We cannot promise 100% coverage of all issues but hope this reflects some changes to teams and services… updates will be added at the top of the list, so please check there for the latest on any topic. As things are developing so quickly, old announcements will usually remain available  towards the bottom of the list.

For more information please  see ONS.

Trailblazer team

6 April 2020

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Homelessness Trailblazer team is running as normal. You can find out more about the Trailblazer team here.

The team can be contacted through email or through district housing options teams.  You can find local information online about each Housing Options Team using these links:

Clarion Futures: jobs & training

Clarion Future (Jobs and Training) is home working during the Covid-19 crisis, and is still available to support customers with career planning, employability skills and distance learning opportunities (see this flyer)

The team can also support recruitment to front line key worker roles.

If you know of anyone who is wanting to get into work (some are worried about working at present I know, but others who are used to an income might welcome the chance to get into something right now) or if you have customers who are bored and want to fill their time with on-line learning, please send them our way!

From Employment Support Officer (March), Clarion Futures Jobs and Training, Beacon House, March.

Note: Clarion Futures is part of Clarion Housing Group. “The priority for Clarion Housing during the coronavirus outbreak is to do everything we can to keep our residents and staff safe. We are closely monitoring the situation, following government advice and continuously updating our website to keep you best informed. Visit www.myclarionhousing.com/about-us/contact_us/servicestatus/

COVID-19 Grant Scheme from Cambridge City Foodbank

6th April 2020

During the current pandemic crisis, Cambridge City Foodbank is accepting applications for grants of up to £1,000 from organisations and groups which are, directly or indirectly, enabling people in financial distress to receive food and/or meals. The following guidelines apply:

  • Grants of up to £1,000 are available but smaller claims are welcome.
  • Only applications from groups or organisations will be accepted- not individuals. You need to show a clear plan for helping people who are facing, or potentially facing, hunger due to poverty.
  • Applications that support the aims of Cambridge City Foodbank for feeding local people in need will be given priority.
  • The information provided will be handled according to our Privacy Policy for Referral Agencies which is available on our web site: https://cambridgecity.foodbank.org.uk/about/privacy-policies/
  • Application forms can be submitted at any time.
  • Any number of applications can be made, but no more than two grants a year will be made to the same group.
  • The decision of Cambridge City Foodbank will be final. In the event of rejection, we may provide feedback but we reserve the right not to do so.
  • All monies are to be spent within 12 months of receipt.
  • A report is to be sent to the Foodbank, as soon as the money has been used, stating how the money has benefited the local project and furthered the aims of Cambridge City Foodbank.
  • Applications shall only be accepted using the application form. To request an application form, please email info@ccfb.org.uk with the subject “CCFB Grant Application”.
  • Cambridge City Foodbank, 2 Orwell House, Cowley Rd, Cambridge CB4 0PP. Registered Charity: 1149883 in England & Wales. UK Limited Company: 8175815

Domestic Abuse

3 April 2020

Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance

The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) have put together some guidance to help housing providers responding to domestic abuse in these challenging times. Here is a link https://www.dahalliance.org.uk/resources/information-on-covid-19/

DAHA is currently working on some guidance for local authorities as we expect take up to be high when lockdown is lifted.

The Respect helpline is still operating, offering support for those using abusive behaviour and professionals working with them and for those who are worried about their behaviour, you can find out more here https://respectphoneline.org.uk/help-for-perpetrators/

Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership

In Cambridgeshire, the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (DASV) Partnership services are stll operating, as set out below. If you have any queries please get in touch, being mindful that the police will still attend a serious 999 call despite some misleading rumours.

Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) are working remotely and doing telephone meetings with clients and are still accepting referrals, including MARAC referrals. For information on how to refer please visit https://www.cambsdasv.org.uk/website/referral_forms/296136 You can email the Duty IDVA idva.referrals@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Outreach support is still being offered by telephone.

  • Cambridge City/ East Cambridgeshire/ South Cambridgeshire: Cambridge Women’s Aid 01223 361214 http://cambridgewa.org.uk/
  • Fenland/ Huntingdonshire/ Peterborough: Refuge 07787 255821

The Independent Sexual Violence Advocate Service (ISVA) service is also still working with clients by ‘phone, please visit the websit here https://www.caprcp.org.uk/contact-us/

The Elms SARC is still open for victims of sexual violence https://www.theelmssarc.org/ Or call 01480 425003

All the national helplines are also still available – please see the DASV website for details www.cambsdasv.org.uk

Anyone wishing to access victim support can call the Freephone advice number on 0800 781 6818 or email: victimandwitnesshub@cambs.pnn.police.uk.

There is also online advice on the Victims Services website which provides details of other local and national organisations providing specialist support: https://www.cambsvictimservices.co.uk/

Cambridgeshire Directory

3 April 2020

  • The County Council is urging organisations offering community support with Covid-19 to register on the Cambridgeshire Directory so people can find them.
  • This website makes it really clear to people how to offer help and how to ask for help:
  • If your charity / community group / organisation is offering support with Covid-19, please register on the directory and use the tag ‘Covid-19’ (see image).

Cambridgeshire Covid mutual aid website

The Covid mutual aid website is also a useful place to search for community support needed or to register community support being offered.

Countywide hub

The countywide hub is focussed on supporting residents who have been identified as shielding and being of the highest risk – and who have no reliable support networks.  It will make sure that critical services across the public sector, such as care for the elderly, can continue through the support of staff who have been redeployed from other council services and partner organisations and the support of volunteers. This work includes ensuring our most vulnerable residents have access to food, medicines and other important supplies, as well as ensuring broader social needs are met as far as possible, to minimise anxiety.

District and city hubs will provide more local support, for residents across their communities and will respond to individual offers of help or requests for support. They will also connect with and support mutual aid and other community-led initiatives. Working closely with the countywide hub, they will respond to individual requests for help and offers of assistance that fall outside the scope of the support being offered to those who are identified as being of the highest risk.

https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/news/network-of-coordination-and-response-hubs-launched?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

To contact the hubs, people are being asked, where possible, to do so online at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/coronavirus  or www.peterborough.gov.uk/coronavirus

Recent Coronavirus Scams

31 March 2020

Coronavirus scams are fast paced at the moment as unscrupulous criminals are constantly inventing new scams to take advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak. In fact Action Fraud report that coronavirus related fraud reports have increased by 400% in March. See https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/coronavirus-related-fraud-reports-increase-by-400-in-march for further details and this image for local websites, newsletters etc.

Covid Relief scam

One common scam at the moment is the ‘Covid Relief’ scam (see the two images below).

This is an example of number spoofing because this scam involves a text message that comes in on the same number as recent GOV.UK text messages informing of the new rules for social isolation. For those receiving it, it appears in the same text ‘conversation’ as the genuine government alerts which makes it very difficult to spot that it’s not genuine.

The messages claim to offer a payment to all residents as part of government’s promise to battle COVID 19.

The texts provide a link to a copycat website that appears to be very official, using all the GOV.UK branding and may tempt the recipient into inputting their banking card details in order to receive the fictitious grant.

Two clues show this is not genuine:

  • The phrase ‘COVID-19 relief’ is misspelled as ‘COVID-19 relieve’
  • the website url is a .com address whereas the government web address is .gov.uk

Big brother scam

Another text scam that purports to be from the government is what I have nick-named the Big Brother scam. This one also spoofs the GOV.UK number and suggests that the recipient is being fined for leaving their home. It includes web links or a phone number in the text which are designed to defraud.

See BBC news article here for more information.

Bogus letter scam

On a similar theme, but with a local flavour, reports have emerged of a bogus letter purporting to be from Huntingdonshire District Council and claiming that the recipient has contravened current government instruction to ‘stay at home’.

Please see screen shot (right).

I am not sure how the sender would achieve financial gain from this one unless it’s the precursor to a follow-up demanding payment but in any case it is worth noting it is bogus. And of course it could crop up in other local authority areas too.

Keeping up to date

To keep up to date, please follow the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on Twitter @PCCCambs who are tweeting scams awareness and prevention information. Please retweet to ensure the messages spread far and wide.

Please visit our website for more information about coronavirus scams. And please get in touch if you’ve received something suspicious you’d like checked out.

The CAPAS facebook page is operating a normal service, search for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership or @CAPASP19

Thank you for all you are doing to help protect your community, your efforts are enormously appreciated.

With many thanks to Charlotte Homent, Community Protection Manager, Cambridgeshire County Council.

Christians Against Poverty – Covid-19 update

30 March 2020

  • As Christians, our overwhelming desire here at CAP is to act with love and concern for others. However, our local Debt Help workers are potentially exposing themselves and clients to risk, and because of this we have needed to take measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone. We have, therefore, made the following difficult decisions about our services and how they operate:

New Debt Help bookings

  • We have stopped taking new client bookings and no new appointments will be made while we review our Debt Help service. Our New Enquiries team will refer callers to other providers offering telephone-based services, while we agree what an alternative service looks like over this period.

Face to face meetings with Debt Help clients

  • With effect from 5pm on Wednesday 18 March, we have stopped  seeing any clients in a face-to-face capacity. We will continue to review our services in light of the Government advice on COVID-19.
  • We will contact our clients by phone to explain this to them, and we are also looking at how we may be able to deliver some of our services via other means.

Supporting those most in need at this time

  • Clearly this is an unprecedented time and we are acutely aware that those living in poverty, suffering with mental ill-health or other vulnerabilities will most be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. While we are mindful of the measures needed to be put in place by the Government to delay the virus’ spread, we also know many families in our communities will be worried and in need of practical support.
  • We are looking at ways we can bring real support in the form of acts of compassion, generosity and love through our network of local churches.

Local Job Centres, particularly Huntingdon

30 March 2020

Paul Szyszko, Partnership Manager for Cambridge, Huntingdon, Ely & Wisbech, has very helpfully agreed to clarify a few issues around access to Jobcentres, especially Huntingdon where the Job Centre is located inside the District Council Offices. In other places (such as Cambridge) it is slightly different as the Job Centre has its own premises with their own front door.

  • Huntingdon District Council are only in extreme circumstances allowing the public into the building.
  • Huntingdon Jobcentre has a phone number on the door so that a customer can speak to a staff member, which is 01480-367251.
  • Not having access to the internet would not (in itslef) be a reason to have an interview inside Huntingdon Jobcentre.
  • Huntingdon Jobcentre managers have so far not come across any customer situation where they could not complete all required activities to complete or sort out a customer benefit claim over the phone.
  • If a situation arises where that could not be done, the local Jobcentre will decide whether or not to arrange an interview inside the Jobcentre.

Please do encourage customers who already are claiming benefits to get a message or query through to their Work Coach either using

  • their on-line UC Journal or
  • the direct Work Coach phone number they were originally given or
  • the Work Coach email address.The situation in Hutingdon is throwing up a number of difficult issues. To clarify:
  • In the extreme cases where a customer cannot get access to the internet at all and doesn’t  have or can’t get access to a phone at all, or of course have not been able to get through on the main Universal Credit phone number due to wait times (though of course customers are getting through in very large numbers on the main phone line);  then the Jobcentre will look at the situation on a case by case basis.
  • The internal contact number is displayed on the front of each Jobcentre and it would be possible for a conversation to take place at the door.
  • Where on speaking to Huntingdon staff (for example) there was no other option than for the customer to be seen on site then that would be arranged.

Working with the Jobcentre: message from East Anglia DWP

30 March 2020

If someone isn’t able to get on line, what’s the best thing we can do to support them?

Jobcentres are open to those that can’t get on-line or have access to a phone line. We have computers inside the Jobcentre that they can use or we can help them face to face. Inside the Jobcentre we are observing social-distancing to protect both our customers and staff that is why we have minimised our footfall. If the door is closed then there is a phone number to ring to allow access – if they don’t have a phone just knock on the door – having said that the doors should be open with colleagues standing at them to help direct customers to the right place.

For someone with an existing benefit claim who has a query on that – eg a deduction has been made in error – what is the best thing for them to do?

Because we are receiving thousands of calls – it is really difficult to get through to a case manager therefore I suggest they send their Work Coach a journal message or email or phone them if they have their email address and direct line number.  If they don’t have either they can email me – Julia.nix@dwp.gov.uk  and we can pick it up and get it dealt with as soon as possible.

Are there any other ways our sector can help support at this time?

I have always believed that the best way we can help our customers is through a strong partnership and this becomes more important during these challenging periods therefore I would suggest that you keep in contact with your local Partnership Manager and we will be able to keep you updated and you can have a single point of contact regarding how we can support you and your customers.  The obvious support you can give which I am sure you are already doing is explaining to our concerned customers that unless it is critical please ask them not to ring or visit the Jobcentre just to check that their claim is being processed or their payment is on its way.

From Julia Nix, Service Leader, East Anglia, Department for Work and Pensions.

CALM Homeless Helpline

30 March 2020

CALM’s Homeless Helpline is remaining open.

Whilst some services are having to reduce or shut down completely, we’re very lucky to not have to do this. We’re still here and will continue to be, to support you, your colleagues, the communities you work with and anyone else you know who needs support.

The Homeless Helpline is:

  • Free
  • Anonymous, confidential & non-judgemental
  • Run by highly-trained, paid professional staff
  • Emotional & practical support
  • Solution focused
  • Open 365 days per year, 5pm – midnight

If you need materials to signpost your service users to CALM, you can order them completely free here. We’ve had great feedback from you that the business cards, posters & stickers are really useful for pointing people in the direction of CALM.

CALM’s core helpline is available to anyone in the UK and will remain open alongside our Homeless Helpline. There’s not enough appreciation of the mental toll that working or volunteering in environments like yours can have, so we’re here for you if you need it. As with the Homeless Helpline, it’s free, anonymous and confidential.

CALM has also put out some top tips on getting through these uncertain times, which you’re very welcome to share with your staff and anyone else who may find them useful.

CALM stands for the Campaign Against Living Miserably.

Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS)

27th March 2020

Street Support Cambridge

27 March 2020

  • This mobile-friendly site aims to get information to people who are homeless on the street and need to find help, and to local people and business who want to give help to tackle homelessness. Detail has been added about changes to organisations and services in light of Covid-19.
  • Key updates can be found on this page

Funding resources

25th March 2020, kindly sahred by Clarion Futures Money

Civil Society

Emergency funding  

John Lewis and partners

Free school meals

Cambridgeshire County Council

Rightsnet

  • E-mail newsletter, dated 20 March, 2020
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): we’ve been thinking of ways that we (Rightsnet) can help during the Coronavirus / COVID-19 situation. So far we have :
    • created a new social welfare law update page that’s being reviewed and updated daily;
    • launched a new online casework support forum;
    • opened up access to our coronavirus-related news stories in order that they might now also be accessed by those of you without a rightsnet subscription; and
    • launched a second new forum The Social that we hope might play a part in helping us all to steer a course through the next few weeks and months by providing more of a social, less work-focused space to catch up with like-minded members of the rightsnet/access to justice community. Hope it’s useful …. please do share with colleagues or others that don’t already have access.

Webpage here https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/ (you can sign up for mailing lists etc. here)

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

RAF Benevolent Fund Community Engagement Worker service

  • 20th March 2020
  • We have taken the decision to cease home visits for the immediate future. Contact will continue by telephone and we are looking to put in place additional ‘keeping in touch’ calls for beneficiaries.
  • During this period partners can continue to refer people to the Community Engagement Worker service but please make the person being referred aware that no home visit will occur in the immediate future and that contact will only be made via telephone.
  • Our Mental Wellbeing Service remains unaffected and can be accessed by members of the RAF Family who are struggling with their mental wellbeing during this difficult period by them calling 0300 222 5703 (office hours only).
  • As the situation changes our services will adapt as best as possible to continue to meet the needs of the RAF Family. Please keep an eye on our website and twitter feed (@rafbf) for further information.

Centre 33

Papworth Trust

  • 20th March 2020
  • Given the rising number of cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19) across the country, Papworth Trust is putting in a number of measures to safeguard the wellbeing of our tenants, customers, staff and volunteers. In our work services we have asked our staff to begin working from home with immediate effect. They will be carrying out telephone appointments with customers.
  • For more information on how it is affecting all of our services, please click here. We will be reviewing our position on a regular basis. We ask that you please keep checking our website for further announcements.

Cambridgeshire Coronavirus Community Fund

  • Updated 3 April 2020
  • Cambridgeshire County Council is supporting the new Cambridgeshire Coronavirus Community Fund. This fast-track emergency fund is offering grants to help local charities, community groups, local authorities and parish councils, to deal with issues affecting older and vulnerable people in our community as a result of the continuing threat of Covid-19.
  • Grants between £1,000 and £5,000 are available for projects that aim to tackle the impact of financial hardship, potential for hunger, lack of shelter, health issues, loneliness, isolation, etc. We aim for the process to take between 5 and 10 days.
  • You can find more information about the fund, including eligibility and how to apply here: https://www.cambscf.org.uk/cambridgeshire-coronavirus-community-fund.html
  • Please also spread the word about the appeal, more information here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/Coronaviruscommunityfund

Money and Pensions service

Besom in Histon & Impington

Jimmy’s Cambridge

  • 20th March 2020
  • Jimmy’s Cambridge has issued this note COVID-19 Response 19March2020 updating on the situation for their services, assessment centre and accommodation.

Central goverment

Citizens Advice Rural Cambs

  • 17th March 2020
  • Temporary closure of face-to-face service
  • With effect from Wednesday, 18th March 2020 we will not be open for face-to-face advice at any of our offices. We’ve taken this decision to minimise the risk to clients, visitors, staff and volunteers, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions and those aged over 65. For the time being, we will be operating a telephone and email service only to respond to all enquiries, see details below.
    • Adviceline – 0344 245 1292 Monday- Friday 09.30am – 3.30pm
    • Universal Credit Help to Claim  – please call us on 0800 144 8 444 (Freephone) Monday – Friday 08:00am – 6:00pm
    • Email :  enquiries.huntingdon@ruralcambscab.org.uk
    • Advice is available via our website:  www.ruralcambscitizensadvice.org.uk or at www.citizensadvice.org.uk

    Extra advisers have been deployed to operate the telephone helpline during this time.

Cambridge Foodbank

  • 17th March 2020
  • Due the Coronavirus crisis we are making some changes to our foodbank operation.
  • We are KEEPING OPEN four of our centres:
      • St Paul’s Church, Hills Road (Monday & Friday)
      • Church of the Good Shepherd Arbury (Thursday)
      • Cambourne Old Blue School (Thursday)
      • C3 Centre, Coldham’s Lane (Friday)

We are CLOSING four centres:

      • Chesterton Methodist Church
      • OLEM Catholic Church
      • Alpha Terrace, Trumpington
      • Waterbeach Baptist

This will be in effect from MONDAY 23rd March.

Please ensure that clients know about this when issuing vouchers as the address of all centres may be printed on the back of the voucher.

You can find more infromation in this Cambridge Foodbank update.

Cambridge & District CAB

17th March 2020

We are now closing all outreaches and face-to-face work. Appointments will be by phone (we will call the clients so there is no cost to them)

Emergencies like the need for a foodbank voucher can be dealt with by people coming to the door and buzzing for attention. They will be asked to write their phone number down and we will arrange for them to come back once we have produced the voucher (we will not be allowing the public into the office).

If clients need to give us paperwork they can do so by putting it through the letter box at the front of the building.

We are closing our drop-in at Devonshire Road from Monday (16th March) until further notice.

We will continue to offer phone (0344 8487979), email advice www.cambridgecab.org.uk and appointments.

In addition we will still be issuing foodbank vouchers and covering our outreaches for the time being (see our website https://www.cambridgecab.org.uk/ for locations)

Cambridgeshire County Council

NHS England

Central government

Local goverment

Covid-19 pages for each district can be found here: