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.

RAF Benevolent Fund update

Added 20 May 2020

Please click here to find an update from RAF Benevolent Fund COVID update as at May 2020.

From Matt Rowe, Community Engagement Worker – Cambridgeshire

Community Learning And Skills update

The following upates are copied (with thanks) from Community Learning And Skills (CLAS) Bulletin 19 May 2020, prepared by the Cambridgeshire Skills Team, see https://www.cambsals.co.uk

Cambridgeshire Skills – Free online Courses

Added 20 May 2020

Cambridgeshire Skills have been working hard on getting some new online courses up and running during these difficult times.

To enrol or for further information please contact us by emailing Cambsals@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Message from Sue Watsham & Vikki Cooper – Cambridgeshire Skills

Craft Donations

Added 20 May 2020
We are currently in the process of making craft packs to help the local community.
We have already made over 170 packs but we are in need of more materials!
If anyone has anything they would like to donate please can you get in contact with us?
Any help will be very much appreciated.

Cambsals@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Message from Sue Watsham & Vikki Cooper – Cambridgeshire Skills

Sewing Bee’s

Added 20 May 2020
We are currently running a community project in which we are making scrub bags for NHS and Care workers
Do you enjoy sewing? would you like to take on a new challenge? – we are looking for more volunteers to join our sewing bee team!
If you are interested or would like more information please get in touch!
We are currently running low on fabric – if anyone is able to make any donations this will be very much appreciated
We are also looking for places to set up as “drop off points” throughout the county – if you can help please get in touch!

Cambsals@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Message from Sue Watsham & Vikki Cooper – Cambridgeshire Skills

Free 1-2-1 Consultations and Webinars & business grants

Added 20 May 2020
The Combined Authority are offering a free one hour consultation, on the phone or via video link, from an experienced business adviser to discuss your needs and provide guidance on how to access relevant support from the our services and central government.
This might include how you can address immediate challenges, how you can engage with broader resilience issues, helping you to explore different ways to conduct your business or diversify. We can also help you to understand and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on your clients, staff, suppliers and others, and help you to lay out an initial roadmap for a return to business.
Click here to book a free one-to-one consultation.

Message from Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority

Unclaimed grant funding available to businesses

Businesses in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are eligible for millions of pounds of grant funding which have so far gone unclaimed.
District and city councils are distributing two key grants, one for small businesses, and one for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. These local authorities have been working hard to contact all businesses eligible, but businesses themselves are urged to get in contact with their relevant local authority to avoid missing out.
The two grant funds and broad eligibility are as follows:

Small Business Grant Fund

Businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

Eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.

For further details on eligibility for these two grants, click here.

Message from Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority

Time to Change

Added 20 May 2020

No one should have to fear being treated differently because of a mental health problem, and that’s why we’re working to end mental health stigma and discrimination. By sharing this image on your social media this Mental Health Awareness Week (18–24 May) you’ll help us reach even more people.

Join us for Story Camp!

Added 20 May 2020
Would you like to develop your skills as a blogger, vlogger or online campaigner, and help change attitudes around mental health? Sign up to take part in our online Story Camp, a 3-month course to help you develop your online storytelling skills and confidence.
Click here to take part

CPSL Mind: service announcements

Added 20 May 2020

Here’s a reminder of new services and service adjustments made at CPSL Mind in response to Covid 19 and we urge you to share these opportunities for support via colleagues and with clients.

Lifeline Plus

If you need a listening ear.

Lifeline Plus is a new helpline for adults in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Trained staff can discuss issues affecting mood and wellbeing during this time, or signpost to other sources of support.
Call Monday to Friday, 9am-2pm, on 0808 808 2121

Qwell

Qwell is an online community for adults in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Find self-help resources and join in peer support through chat. You can also access safe and confidential one-hour sessions with a fully qualified counsellor via instant messaging.

Good Life Service

As part of our Good Life Service we offer a number of community initiatives aimed at encouraging community connectivity and increasing wellbeing skills. These ordinarily take place in cafes and other locations at the heart of our communities. Good Mood cafes are informal ‘get togethers’ designed to connect individuals to other like-minded people within their communities; offer wellbeing support and share interests and skills.

Our Open Door calm spaces offer somewhere to turn if you’re looking for a bit of space and tranquillity.
These sessions offer guidance on self-help techniques which can help you to ‘ground yourself’ and feel better – both in that moment and in the future.

However, we are now bringing these directly to you to participate in from home using Zoom video calls. You can sign up to join the virtual sessions detailed below by emailing us at goodlife@cpslmind.org.uk or calling us on 0300 303 4363. We’ll then send you a private link and password which you can use to safely and securely join.

Sanctuary service

Our Sanctuary service remains open for dedicated telephone support for those in mental health crisis and is only accessed via the NHS First response Service  on telephone 111 option 2.

Message from Alex Seeberg Communications and Marketing Assistant

Digital Inclusion – how do we help people to get online?

Added 20 May 2020

There is some Cambridge City Council funding to respond to the Coronavirus lockdown crisis to support disadvantaged people and local organisations and their staff in Cambridge with the best options available to help people get online.

This can be direct support or helping staff.

I am providing free experienced remote support for digital inclusion issues such as the following:

  • Information and advice on online devices, including low cost and accessibility options
  • Support with applications for free devices where available
  • Support with low cost connectivity and temporary connectivity options or advice/help with signal coverage issues
  • Support with data limit issues
  • Advice and signposting on social media tools to stay in contact with family/friends
  • Information on basic online safety
  • Looking after wellbeing online
  • Signposting to online learning
  • Help with career goals
  • Signposting to other services
  • Other related topics

This link takes you to a flyer aimed at individuals, and this link takes you to one for stakeholders.

If you are based in Cambridge City and need advice,  or have clients in the city who may benefit from this help please contact James.Lewis@chsgroup.org.uk
I work Tuesday (all day) and Wednesday (afternoon).

Message from James Lewis, Digital Inclusion Officer, CHS Group

Bereavement support

Added 20 May 2020

This link takes you to a leaflet about bereavement support, produced in April 2020, across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

When someone we love dies or is terminally ill, it can feel overwhelming.

There are a lot of practical things that need to be sorted out, and it can be hard to know where to begin.

This booklet gives you step-by step guidance on what you should do. It is designed for you to use on your own. Draw on it, tick things off, and make it your own.

This booklet is designed for people over pension age in Cambridge. If you are under pension age and in need of advice, get in touch with Cambridge Citizens Advice.

Download our booklet: Practical Help When Someone Dies 2019

Message from Lynne McAulay, New Horizons Project Manager, CHS Group and Rachel Talbot, CEO, Cambridge & District Citizens Advice

Debt help service helpline opens

Added 20 May 2020

An update from CAP regarding our Debt Help service during COVID-19:

We are now able to take new appointment bookings for our Debt Help service via our helpline 0800 328 0006.

We cannot see clients face to face, so we have changed our debt counselling service to offer a telephone-based service that will help and support the clients through the process. We have worked hard with regulators to ensure that our service is compliant, and we have trialled the service to ensure that it will work as well as it can do for vulnerable clients.

We want to thank you for your patience, support, and for referring clients to us. We greatly value the relationship that we have with you and look forward to helping many more of our shared clients in the future.

Update provided by Sue Bradshaw, Christians Against Poverty

Gypsies, travellers and coronavirus

Added 5 May 2020

Housing Quality Network published a useful guide in April 2020, setting out some issues and ten recommendations around services for Gypsies and Travellers. Here is a link to the report Travellers, gypsies, and the impact of the coronavirus

Friends families and travellers has also provided a great page of tips and information on these issues, here.

Information for Carers

Added 24 April 2020, information correct as at 15 April 2020.

Here’s a helpful factsheet including a list of community organisations commissioned by Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council Adult Social Care:  Carers factsheet for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

The services listed have trained and well-supported staff and volunteers able to respond to the needs of individuals for whom support might be required not only during the Covid-19 pandemic but also in the longer term.

Public Health messages: translated

Added 21 April 2020

Please visit Doctors of the World website to find public health messages about Covid-19, translated into 48 different languages https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information/

Across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, these are some of the most used languages (using Census 2011 information). Click on the blue link to open the relevant translation:

  • Arabic النشرة الإخبارية لفيروس كورو(Covid19)
  • Bengli কররোনোভোইরোস(Covid19)-এর জনয ননরদেশ
  • English Coronavirus (Covid19) Guidance
  • French Coronavirus (Covid 19) Conseils
  • German Coronavirus (Covid19) Richtlinien
  • Gujerati કોરોના વાયરસ (Covid 19) માગર્ દર્શન ક ગાઈડન્સ
  • Italian Guida al contagio da Coronavirus (Covid19)
  • Kurdish ڤایرۆسی کرۆنا(کۆڤید ١٩) ڕێنمایی کوردی سۆرانی
  • Latvian Koronavīrusa (Covid19) norādes
  • Lituanian Koronaviruso (COVID19) rekomendacijos
  • Malayalam െകാേറാണ ൈവറസ് (Covid19) മാർഗ്ഗനിർേദ്ദശം
  • Panjabi ੋਰੋਨਾ ਵਾਇਰਸ (Covid-19 ) ਮਾਰਗਦਰਸ਼ਨ
  • Polish Wskazowki (Covid19)
  • Portugese Coronavírus (Covid19) Guia
  • Romanian Coronavirus (COVID – 19) Ghid
  • Russian Коронавирус (Covid – 19) Инструкция
  • Slovak Coronavirus (Covid19) Poučenie
  • Spanish Guía sobre la enfermedad por coronavirus (Covid19)
  • Urdu کورونا وائرس (Covid19)سے متعلق رہنمائ

Our grateful thanks to Doctors of the World for this excellent resource.

Cambridge and District CAB

Update 17 April 2020, replacing information previously shared on 17 March 2020

  • In line with Government advice, we closed all of our face to face advice sessions (both at Devonshire Road and outreach locations) with effect from 24 March 2020.
  • We are still open for advice as follows
    • You can call our Adviceline on 0344 848 7979
    • You can get e-mail advice – please visit our website at www.cambridgecab.org.uk for our contact details
  • Clients in need of a Foodbank voucher should call or e-mail us. We can send a code-only referral to a mobile phone so there is no need to print and collect a foodbank voucher.
  • We continue to collect any mail which is delivered to Devonshire Road so clients who need to provide us with documents can still do so by post to 66 Devonshire Road, Cambridge CB1 2BL or by putting them through the letter box at the front of the building.
  • Booked appointments will be by phone (we will call clients back).
  • Existing clients who are working with specialist caseworkers can continue to contact their caseworker by their direct dial telephone or e-mail.

Housing Board

Added 17 April 2020

The Housing Board is a group of senior officers from local authorities and partner agencies,  which meets regularly to work collaboratively on strategic housing issues across seven districts.

These are Cambridge, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire, Peterborough, South Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk. The Board works with its partners to share learning and experience across the local housing market area on four priorities, which are * New homes & communities * Homes for wellbeing * Existing homes * Housing need and homelessness.

Due to coronavirus, the Board wil be meeting fortnightly on-line to work together on housing-related needs, issues and partnerhsips in this difficult period. You can find meeting papers here.

Money Advice Service Support

Added 17 April 2020

Message from Alan Nicholls – Regional Manager (East of England) – Money and Pensions Service 

DHIVERSE HIV support and counselling services are still open

Added 17 April 2020

We want to remind you that we are still accepting referrals to both our HIV Support Service and our Counselling Service.
During the Covid-19 pandemic some people with HIV might have concerns about e.g. benefits, their medication, access to foodbanks, access to condoms and they might feel even more isolated than usual; they might just want someone to talk to. We can support them with any of this.
People who are feeling anxious about e.g. their sexual health, relationships, sexuality might need professional counselling and we can still provide this.

Coordination and response hubs

Added 16 April 2020

A network of COVID-19 Coordination and Response Hubs has been established across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, at made up of a countywide coordination hub alongside local hubs that are being led by the district/city councils.

The Countywide Hub

The Countywide Hub is focussed on supporting residents at the highest risk, and ensuring that critical services across the public sector can be sustained through additional staff redeployment and volunteer capacity. 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.

Purpose
  • To co-ordinate the distribution of support to the Shielded Group of residents who are at the highest risk.
  • To support the sustainability of critical public services through the deployment of staff and volunteers.
  • To ensure, with our partners, that we are making the best use possible of all available resources to minimise anxiety, to co-ordinate social action, and to ensure those most vulnerable are benefitting from appropriate community support.
Contacting the Countywide COVID-19 Coordination Hub

District / City Hubs

The District / City Hubs are focussed on providing local support arrangements, connecting with and supporting mutual aid and other community led initiatives, supporting residents across their communities, and responding to individual offers of help or requests for support.

Purpose
  • Local district/city hubs have been established to support, coordinate and connect the local and voluntary activity that is happening – working closely with the Countywide Hub they will also respond to individual request for help and offers of assistance that fall outside the scope of the Shielded Group.
  • To help manage demand, it is requested that where possible contact with the Hubs is made via the online portals, listed below:
Cambridge
East Cambridgeshire
Fenland
Huntingdonshire
Peterborough
South Cambridgeshire

Food parcels for ‘shielded’ households

Added 15 April 2020

The central government’s list of ‘shielded’ households are startgin to get weekly food parcels delivered. You can find goverment guidance on shielding here.

Which? provides some useful information summarising food deliveries for vulnerable households, here.

Cambridgeshire Skills

Added 15 April 2020

Cambridgeshire Skills continues to remain contactable during these unprecedented times. Our dedicated and friendly admissions team are on hand Monday to Friday, from 8.45am to 5pm, by calling 01353 613013, emailing cambsals@cambridgeshire.gov.uk, or by messaging us via one of our social media platforms:

Online learning

Although all face-to-face learning has now been postponed, following government advice, we continue to offer learning online, and our tutors are continuing to develop techniques to enhance engagement with our learners. We have also created a dedicated ‘Online Learning’ page on our website, full of lots of useful tips, pointers and FREE learning resources, which can be found here. We will continue to add to this area, so watch this space!

Have you been Furloughed, or know someone that has?

If you are furloughed and / or want to sharpen your employability skills, visit https://www.learnmyway.com/subjects/finding-job-online/ to access the FREE ‘Finding a Job Online,’ course via the Learn My Way website. You may also find the FREE learning links on both our website and the Learn My Way website useful to upskill or retrain.

Enrolling onto a Course

If you are interested in completing a course with us in the future, please do get in touch with our admissions team so that we can take down your contact information. We will be in contact once we have a suitable course available, which could be online, or face-to-face.

Scams Awareness

Action Fraud have received reports of #COVID19 related scams. The majority relate to the online sale of protective items such as facemasks and other items in short supply due to the outbreak, that don’t exist. Further information can be found here.

Please share this message with your friends and family and protect yourself and others against scams. Please remember that Cambridgeshire Skills have previously offered a Scams Awareness course and very much hope to offer this again in the future.

If you haven’t already done so, please do ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ our Social Media pages to keep up to date with information on our services.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding and very much hope to work with you in the not too distant future. If you have any queries or concerns, please do get in contact.

Staying up to date

Please check our website, by clicking here, for updates on our services due to the current pandemic.

Website: www.cambsals.co.uk

Email: cambsals@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

From Cambridgeshire Skills, Cambridgeshire County Council

Muir Housing

Added 14 April 2020

Due to the current unprecedented challenges created by COVID-19, it may take us a little longer to reply to you than usual.

Please be assured however that the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents, their families and our colleagues, remains Muir’s priority.

Please visit http://www.muir.org.ukfor the latest news regarding any changes to our services.

For the latest Government advice on COVID-19, visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Sanctuary Housing

Added 14 April 2020

The health and safety of our residents, their families and our colleagues is our number one priority. This means that during this unprecedented time the services we are able to provide will be different to usual so it might take us longer to provide you with a reply.

We are closely monitoring government guidance around coronavirus (COVID-19) – please visit our website for the latest updates and changes to our services – https://www.sanctuary-housing.co.uk/news

In the meantime, all our customers and their friends & family should continue to follow the latest Government and Public Health England guidance on coronavirus.

From Sanctuary Housing, East and South East

East Cambridgeshire Covid Newsletter

Added 14 April 2020

East Cambridgeshire has published a very useful newsletter combining information from the NHS, Police, community, Fire and Councils at East Cambs Covid newsletter.

Gypsies and Travellers

Added 14 April 2020

Some Gypsies and Travellers may be particularly vulnerable to; and particularly impacted by Covid-19.

Friends Families and Travellers maintains a service directory of Gypsy and Traveller support organisations across the country, which may be useful to know about. You can find the directory here.

Trailblazer team

Added 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

Added 6 April 2020

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

Added 6 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

Added 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

Added 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

Added 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

Added 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

Added 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

Added 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

Added 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)

Added 27 March 2020

Street Support Cambridge

Added 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

Added 25 March 2020

Civil Society

Emergency funding  

John Lewis and partners

Free school meals

Added 24 March 2020

Kidly shared by Clarion Futures Money

Cambridgeshire County Council

Added 24 March 2020

Rightsnet

Added from 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)

Added 20 March 2020

RAF Benevolent Fund Community Engagement Worker service

Added 20 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

Added 20 March 2020

Papworth Trust

Added 20 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

Added 20 March 2020

Besom in Histon & Impington

Added 20 March 2020

Jimmy’s Cambridge

Added 20 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

Added 19 March 2020

Citizens Advice Rural Cambs

Added 17 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

Added 17 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.

Cambridgeshire County Council

Added 16 March 2020

NHS England

Added 16 March 2020

Central government

Added 16 March 2020

Local goverment

Added 16 March 2020

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