COVID-19: Help and Support

As a country, we need to come together and ensure that the implications of COVID-19 do not result in anybody being left behind. There are some amazing community groups currently operating in our constituency to aid the most vulnerable in society. Advice and information in relation to housing, transport and utilities is also available for anybody who may need it. Please access the links above if you are in need of help or are able to contribute in any way.

COVID-19 Symptoms

COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. The symptoms of the disease which are requiring people to stay at home are a high temperature and a new and continuous cough. If you have any of these symptoms, please stay at home. Do not go to a GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy.

There is no need to ring NHS 111 if you are staying at home. Use of the number is encouraged, however, if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

The following information has been taken from the NHS website which I am encouraging everyone to take note of.

Getting Tested

There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). The test you need depends on why you’re getting tested.

The 2 main tests are:

  • PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they’re sent to a lab to be checked
  • rapid lateral flow tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test

Both tests are free.

PCR Tests:

Get a PCR test as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms, even if mild:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

You and anyone you live with should stay at home until you get your test result. Only leave your home to have a test. To book a PCR test click here.

Rapid lateral flow tests: 

Anyone can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests without having symptoms.

About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. You should do a rapid test twice a week (every 3 to 4 days) to check if you have the virus.

If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.

Even if you’re vaccinated, there’s still a chance you can pass COVID-19 on, so you should keep getting tested regularly. To order home testing kits click here.

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Getting Vaccinated

 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They give you the best protection against COVID-19.

All adults aged 18 or over can now get vaccinated against COVID-19.

You do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS.

If you were contacted but have not booked your appointments, you’re still eligible and can book your appointments anytime.

How to get your COVID vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccines currently available are given in 2 doses. You usually have the 2nd dose 8 to 12 weeks after the 1st dose.

To get your vaccine you can:

If you cannot book appointments online, you can call 119 free of charge. You can speak to a translator if you need to.

Booking your second dose

You’ll need to book a 2nd dose for 8 to 12 weeks after your 1st dose.

How well do vaccines work

Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others.

Research has shown the vaccines help:

  • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
  • protect against COVID-19 variants

The 1st dose should give you some protection from 3 or 4 weeks after you’ve had it. But you need 2 doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.

There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it’s important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.

NHS Volunteering

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak. An army of volunteers are needed to support the 1.5 million people in England who are the most at risk from the virus. Volunteers must be aged 18 or over, and be fit and well with no symptoms of COVID-19. If you do become ill, you will be able to pause your volunteering.

Signing up is easy! Join the team today. Once you have been registered and checks have been completed, you will be provided with a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder app. When you are free to help, switch the app to ‘on duty’, and you will see live and local volunteer tasks to pick in your area.

To ensure that people are adhering to Government guidance, responders may be required to show the active task they are carrying out if prompted. The majority of the volunteer tasks can be undertaken while social distancing. Volunteers will receive guidance with regard to carrying out tasks safely via a Getting Started pack.

There are four NHS Volunteer roles:

Community Response Volunteer

Role: Collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home.

Patient Transport Volunteer

Role: Providing transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge, and ensuring that they are settled safely back in their home.

These driving volunteers require an enhanced DBS check.

NHS Transport Volunteer

Role: Transporting equipment, supplies and medication between NHS services and sites, and assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.

Check-In and Chat Volunteer

Role: Providing short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.

This support can be provided by people in higher-risk groups, including people aged over 70, pregnant people and people with underlying medical conditions.

Call for Retired Police Officers

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on policing and the community, Greater Manchester Police are looking to re-engage retired police officers.

Currently, 1,332 police officers and staff are away from work because of COVID-19. 1,350 police officers retired from the Greater Manchester Police between 2014 and 2019.

Retired police officers are therefore being asked to re-offer their services to the community.

There are a range of roles available:

  • Dealing with local investigations
  • Front Line roles
  • Supporting call handling
  • Taking reports from the public

If you are a retired police officer able to help Greater Manchester Police during these unprecedented, please email Covid19Rejoiners@gmp.police.uk

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Food Banks

Tameside East

Haughton Green, Tameside

Reddish, Stockport

Housing

Irwell Valley Homes understand that tenants are worried about the impact COVID-19 is going to have on their finances. As such, they are advising that tenants seek help by checking out the latest information from the Government for people in work, and those claiming benefits. Tenants concerned about managing their money should contact the Financial Inclusion Team who are trained to offer expert money guidance.

The Financial Inclusion Team can be contacted over the phone (0300 561 1111) from Monday to Thursday, 8:00am to 6:00pm and Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.

New Charter tenants who are experiencing difficulties with paying their rent as a result of COVID-19 are encouraged to contact Jigsaw Homes.

Jigsaw Homes can be contacted over the phone (0300 11 11 212) and by email (info@jigsawhomes.org.uk) from Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm.

If you are a Stockport Homes tenant who is expecting to or is currently experiencing a reduction in income due to self-isolation or illness with COVID-19, contact the Rents Team as soon as possible. They are here to support you through these difficult times. Those who do get behind with their rent payments should talk to the Rents Team so that they can understand your situation and make an affordable arrangement for future payments.

The Rents Team can be contacted over the phone (0161 217 6016, Option 3 then Option 3) from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm.

Evictions

At this time, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home.

From 26 March onwards, landlords have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession. This buffer will apply in law until 30 September and it may be extended if needed.

From 27 March onwards, all ongoing housing possession action is to be suspended, including any cases currently in or about to enter the system. This will initially last for 90 days, but may be extended if needed.

Moving Home

The Government has also released guidance for those moving home during this “stay at home” period. They are urging parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes.

Here is the full guidance for those moving home in this period.

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Private Renters

Legislation preventing bailiff enforcement of evictions has now expired. This was in place from 17 November 2020 until 31 May 2021. Therefore, orders can now be enforced where the landlord has a valid warrant of possession. However, bailiffs must provide 14 days’ notice of an eviction and have been asked not to carry out an eviction if they are made aware that anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

From 1 June 2021, notice periods must be at least 4 months in most cases, including where the tenant has less than 4 months’ rent arrears. From 1 August 2021, the notice period for cases where there are less than 4 months of unpaid rent, will further reduce to 2 months’ notice. Notice periods for the most serious cases, as set out above, are lower with most requiring 2 or 4 weeks’ notice. The notice period for ‘serious arrears’ is 4 weeks’ notice and the threshold for what constitutes ‘serious arrears’ is ‘arrears equivalent to 4 or more months’ rent.

More information is available here.

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Schools, Colleges and Apprenticeships

As the country moves to Step 4 of the roadmap, the Government have worked with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) to revise the guidance for Schools, Colleges and Apprenticeships.

Schools and Colleges

  • The Government no longer recommends keeping children in consistent groups (‘bubbles’) at school. This means that bubbles will not need to be used for any summer provision (for example, summer schools) or in schools from the autumn term.
  • From 16 August 2021, children under the age of 18 years old will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Instead, children will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, informed they have been in close contact with a positive case and advised to take a PCR test. We would encourage all individuals to take a PCR test if advised to do so.
  • The government has removed the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college.
  • Schools are encouraged to  have outbreak management plans outlining how they would operate if there was an outbreak in the school or local area.
  • Over the summer, staff and secondary pupils should continue to test regularly if they are attending settings that remain open, such as summer schools and out of school activities based in school settings. Schools will only provide tests for twice weekly asymptomatic testing for pupils and staff over the summer period if they are attending school settings. However, testing will still be widely available over the summer and kits can be collected either from your local pharmacy or ordered online.
  • Schools should:
    1. Ensure good hygeine for everyone
    2. Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes
    3. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated
    4. Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Apprentices

  • All apprentices can attend on-site training and assessment and all apprentices are able to attend the workplace.
  • Apprenticeship delivery can be very flexible, and it is up to training providers, employers and EPAOs to agree:
    • how apprenticeship training is delivered
    • how assessments are undertaken
    • whether to use more than one delivery method the appropriate balance of on-site and remote training based on the apprenticeship and the apprentice’s ability to train remotely.

For more information guidance on apprenticeships click here.

Guidance for Employers

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021 and the level of grant available to employers under the scheme will stay the same until 30 June 2021.

From 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and employers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant employers must continue to pay furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.

The table below shows the level of government contribution available in the coming months, the required employer contribution and the amount that the employee receives per month where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time.

June July August September
Government contribution: wages for hours not worked 80% up to £2,500 80% up to £2,500 70% up to £2,187.50 60% up to £1,875
Employer contribution: employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions Yes Yes Yes Yes
Employer contribution wages for hours not worked No No 10% up to £312.50 20% up to £625
For hours not worked employee receives 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month

 

For more information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme click here. 

Guidance for Employees

The Government have released guidance for employees during this period, including:

  • Advice on staying at home
  • Sick pay
  • Guidance for furloughed workers
  • Guidance on claiming benefits

You can access this guidance here.

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Self-Employed Workers

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will soon open applications for the 5th grant for self-employed workers. In order to be eligible for the SEISS 5th grant, you need to meet three different criteria.

Stage 1: Your trading status and when you must have traded

You must be a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership.

You must also have traded in both tax years:

  • 2019 to 2020
  • 2020 to 2021

You cannot claim the grant of you trade through a limited company or trust.

Stage 2: Tax returns and trading profits

You must have:

  • submitted your 2019 to 2020 tax return on or before 2 March 2021
  • trading profits of no more than £50,000
  • trading profits at least equal to your non-trading income

If you’re not eligible based on the trading profits in your 2019 to 2020 return, the Government will look back at previous years. HMRC will contact you in mid-July if you’re eligible for the grant based on your tax returns.

Stage 3: Deciding if you can claim

When you make your claim you must tell HMRC that you:

  • intend to keep trading in 2021 to 2022
  • reasonably believe there will be a significant reduction in your trading profits due to the impact of COVID-19 between 1 May 2021 and 30 September 2021

Find out more, including whether you’re eligible here.

Citizen’s Advice suggest that if you’re self-employed and you can’t work because you’re sick with Coronavirus, you might be eligible to claim contribution-based or ‘new style’ ESA (Employment and Support Allowance). Find out more on the Citizen’s Advice website.

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Fact Checking COVID-19 Information

Misinformation is bad for us and our health. One of the best ways we can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by preventing the spread of misinformation, especially online.

Full Fact are the United Kingdom’s independent fact checking organisation. They have been fighting against a tide of false claims and exaggerations about COVID-19 from social media users, as well as private messaging app users such as those who communicate via WhatsApp and some journalists in the mainstream media.

To stop the spread of misinformation, Full Fact have launched an online form where users can directly ask questions and share claims about COVID-19 that they would like to be fact checked. Their website also publishes all of their latest fact checks in relation to COVID-19.

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Macmillan Cancer Support

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Macmillan has seen a stark increase in the number of people contacting their Support Services about the disease – accounting for over a quarter of the people who contacted them in the past week. People living with cancer are rightly concerned about how COVID-19 will affect their health, their care and treatment, and their work and finances

Macmillan Cancer Support have therefore launched a COVID-19 Information Hub to provde clear advice, information and support about the disease to people living with cancer, their families and their carers.

Cancer Research UK also has a useful page with information about Coronavirus and cancer.

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Mental Health Support

Whilst we carry out social distancing measures to protect our physical health and the physical health of others, it is possible that our mental health may suffer as a result. It is recommended that despite social distancing, people remain connected remotely and stimulate their brains by keeping up a routine, regularly exercising and engaging in leisure activities such as reading.

Please find below some organisations who can provide help and support to those struggling with their mental health at this time.

If you’re feeling stressed about COVID-19 and you are aged over 16, SilverCloud can help you maintain a healthy mind during this challenging time. SilverCloud offer online programmes to help you ease stress levels, sleep better and build resilience. Programmes are self-help orientated, secure and confidential.

You can access instant self-help support and find out more about SilverCloud here.

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Online Learning

Future Learn was founded by the Open University in 2012. It is Europe’s largest social learning platform with delivers short open online classes.

A free online course on understanding and preventing the spread of COVID-19 has been launched for all learners. The course is currently open for enrolment and it will begin on 23 March.

Open Learn is the Open University’s free learning platform with over 15,000 hours of online courses and content available to all. Currently, Open Learn have over 950 short courses on a vast array of subjects.

Specifically on COVID-19, Open Learn have a dedicated page learners are advised to consult for free courses of infectious diseases, the latest government advice and mental health support.

Transport

England has now moved to Step 4 of the Roadmap out of Lockdown. While many restrictions have been lifted it does not mean that the risk from Coronavirus has disappeared. People are encouraged to use public transport, particularly at quieter times, but to help keep each other safe anyone using the Metrolink network, bus stations or transport interchanges in Greater Manchester must still wear a face covering unless exempt. In addition, passengers travelling on trains and buses in Greater Manchester are expected to wear a face covering unless exempt.

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Utilities

At the moment, your energy supplier won’t disconnect your gas or electricity if you miss a payment. If you’ve got a prepayment meter and you don’t top it up, your energy supply might still stop.

If you call your supplier, you might have to wait longer than normal to speak to someone. If you can, try contacting them online through their website, through social media, or by email.

Find out more about what to do if you’re struggling with your energy bills by visiting Citizens Advice here.

Volunteering and Mutual Aid

Greater Manchester Partners are working together to provide community support and advice to residents who are struggling to access basic and essential services as a result of COVID-19. Volunteering GM is providing coordination to volunteering efforts across Greater Manchester including in Stockport and Tameside.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: 

“The people of our city-region are compassionate – we don’t just walk on by.

“I want to kick-start a volunteering drive that sees the Greater Manchester public befriend their neighbours and others living and working nearby, running errands, collecting and distributing medicines and in general ensuring our older citizens are safe and well.

“We are living in a challenging period, but together we will get through this like we have so many depressions, recessions and dark times before.

“That is the spirit of Greater Manchester.”

A number of Facebook groups have also emerged to provide mutual aid across the constituency. For information about mutual aid groups in other areas, go to COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK.

Council Helplines

0161 217 6046

Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm

Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm

0161 342 8355

(Select Option 5 to go directly through to the COVID-19 Call Centre)

For residents who do not have any family, friends or neighbours able to support them at this difficult time, Tameside Council have set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline. Give them a call to access help and support, ranging from the arrangement of essential item deliveries to anything as simple as a chat.

Stockport Council

Information and guidance provided by Stockport Council can be found here.

You can find out more about the support that Stockport Council is giving to local businesses here.

Stockport Council are also collating information and resources from local organisations on its website to get vulnerable and isolated people the support they need.

Adult Social Care

The focus is to ensure that statutory duties are met, but clearly we are prioritising essential work. We are in daily contact with our external providers for care homes, nursing homes and home care to ensure that robust continuity plans are in place. We have also established a central distribution approach for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our staff to ensure that PPE, which is in short supply nationally, is prioritised to where it is most needed.

Businesses

Stockport Council want to know what the key things are that are impacting your business at the moment, so they can work out how best to help you. Fill in the survey here.

Jobs Match

Stockport Council has set up Stockport Jobs Match, a one stop service for people who are looking for work during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. It’s a free to use portal to help individuals access available jobs quickly by applying for work in one place. Click here to visit Stockport Jobs Match.

Council Tax Support

Stockport Council have released information on support for paying council tax during the Coronavirus outbreak. Read the advice here.

Community Support

If people would like to share any information about local community and voluntary groups, please email neighbourhoods@stockport.gov.uk

These services will move from walk-in access to over the phone and online:

  • Customer services
  • Tameside housing advice
  • Taxi licensing counter service
  • Welfare rights and debt advice
These services will have walk-in access suspended with some online access:

  • Adult community education
  • Local studies and archives
  • Libraries
  • Museums and galleries
  • Public counter Dukinfield Crematorium
The Government have confirmed a £500 million Hardship Fund to provide council tax relief for vulnerable people and the households most affected by COVID-19. Access more information here.  

Tameside Council have set up a dedicated page for Employment and Individual Support, containing job listings for current oppourtunities and vacancies. It will also be updated with advice and guidance around mortgage and rent support, and changes to Universal Credit.

The Grow in Tameside Facebook page will continue to be updated. Both Baby Babble, Small Talk and Toddler Talk, and Littler Learners and Baby Group participants are encouraged to use this page for activity ideas to do at home.

The Young Parents Wriggles and Giggles Group will continue to be supported through the WhatsApp group.

All those currently completing or due to start a programme will continue through a different means of communication. Those on waiting lists will be contacted when normal service resumes.

Tameside Council are developing a parent resource page on their website. If you have anything to contribute, email communications@tameside.gov.uk.

If you are concerned about anyone who might be vulnerable, please ring 0161 342 8355.

If you would like to register to volunteer, please visit the Action Together website.

On the Tameside Council website, there are a number of helpful pages to aid residents during this uncertain time.

Government Helplines

0300 456 3565

Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 6:00pm

0800 015 9559

Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 8:00pm

Saturday, 8:00am to 4:00pm

0800 046 8687

0800 328 5644

Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm

Business Growth Hub

For businesses in Greater Manchester, the Business Growth Hub is an invaluable resource which can help guide you through this difficult period. Support can be accessed over the phone (0161 359 3050) and online.

Affected businesses are being recommended to take 10 steps now, the aids for which can be found on the Business Growth Hub website:

1. Keep informed

2. Signpost your employees to trusted advice and support

3. Promote good hygiene in the workplace

4. Manage self-isolation, sickness absence and school closures

5. Follow the advice on business trips, event attendance and overseas travel

6. Manage overseas visitors and employees returning from overseas

7. Assess the risks in your supply chain

8. Engage with your key business partners

9. Carry out Pandemic Planning

10. Check your insurance

Constituency Office Address

Town Hall, Market Street, Denton, M34 2AP

Parliamentary Office Address

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

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