Oxford City Council has modified the way its Contact Centre will operate to support people during the coronavirus crisis.
The Contact Centre will now provide a single point of contact for vulnerable people to request any support they may require to access food bank support, any additional support to collect medicines during peak times for pharmacies, and to find support to cope with potential mental health impacts as a result of feeling isolated.
In Oxford, the City Council and the voluntary organisation Oxford Hub have partnered to make sure help is getting to those in need of this extra support. For people needing general but not urgent support, they can log their details and the kind of support needed on the Oxford Together website. For those with more urgent support needs, or who are particularly vulnerable because of age, health or mental health issues, the City Council’s Contact Centre team can help them get the support they need. The Contact Centre number is 01865 249 811 or an online form is available.
Creating Local Response Hubs for support
The City Council and Oxford Hub have worked together, at pace, to set up a city-wide series of Local Response Hubs to ensure the needs of people are met, particularly the most vulnerable residents. To make sure the City Council can respond to needs, all residents that require this extra support are urged to:
- call the City Council Contact Centre on 01865 249 811 as the single point of contact
- use the online form to ask for help Community Assistance page
The City Council and Oxford Hub began work on the Hubs ahead of the Government announcement that local hubs would be used to provide necessary support, and have been able to get these up and running rapidly following the Government announcement. The Hubs will be co-ordinating activity on the ground, ensuring those most in need of help get the food and medicines they need as well being invited to get involved in virtual activities.
This has been brought together in the last two weeks and is in addition to the Health Secretary’s 250,000 NHS volunteers announced on Tuesday (24 March) to provide such support.
Who are the Hubs for?
The Hubs have been set up to help those most in need:
- People who have received a letter from the NHS identifying them as high risk
- those needing food bank support
- those with no local support from friends or family
- with physical and mental health needs
- vulnerable individuals and families
Five hubs across the city cover North, South, East, West and Central Oxford. They are also working with partners including the Primary Care Networks and pharmacies to take referrals for support.
People at highest risk
The most vulnerable residents in Oxford will have recently received a letter from the NHS advising them that they are at the highest risk from coronavirus, and to isolate for 12 weeks.
If you or someone you know has been identified as high risk and have no support network, please contact the dedicated team on 01865 24 98 11 or use the online form on our Community Assistance page.
Getting in touch for help
Resident can get in touch through the Contact Centre team by calling 01865 249811 or use the online form www.oxford.gov.uk/CommunityAssistance to raise issues and vulnerabilities related to:
- Access to food;
- Medical Supplies;
- Access to local friendships and active community groups.
The Contact Centre is staffed 8am-5pm, with emergency cover out of hours.
The Contact Centre will identify what services are available for support and will refer them to the right local services or the Hubs as appropriate. Local services include Street Champions, volunteers working with the Oxford Hub and supporting people living in each street. The Oxford Hub has a list of DBS checked volunteers who can support vulnerable residents, as well as an army of general volunteers.
The Hubs and Contact Centre team have a limited resource and are only able to help those most in need. Other support is available for those that need help with shopping, collecting items and keeping in touch locally.
Other sources of support
For non-urgent issues residents are asked to use the City Council web site, the Oxford Together website, or use other phone and online resources to find support.
People can contact their Street Champion directly for local volunteer help with shopping, a daily phone call for the isolated and to connect with online groups.
There are many online resources to help with keeping active, coping with children at home, online shopping and other practicalities of social distancing. The City Council has launched an online listing of physical and mental health activities, online cultural links, learning resources and ways to keep in touch online.
The County Council has put out a call for volunteers across the county, in response to new measures brought in by Government in response to Coronavirus – leading to more people needing to access support from their local communities and neighbours - particularly the most vulnerable residents who will now have to self-isolate for 12 weeks.
To volunteer in Oxford City, please register your details at Oxford Together If you live outside the city, then please visit Oxfordshire All In who have details on all opportunities across Oxfordshire.
Help for highest risk Oxfordshire residents outside the city
Outside the city, other arrangements are in place across the county. The most vulnerable residents across Oxfordshire will have recently received correspondence from the NHS, identifying them as high risk and advising them to strictly self-isolate for 12 weeks.
A new, dedicated line has been set up for Oxfordshire residents outside the city. It will be operational from 8:30am to 8:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am - 5:00pm Saturday and Sunday, and is there to offer priority support to our most high risk residents across the county.
If you or someone you know has been identified as high risk and has no support network, please contact the dedicated team on 01865 89 78 20 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“It’s vital that we support the most vulnerable at this difficult time. The Contact Centre and the Hubs have been set up in a matter of days to make sure that those people are supported, and to co-ordinate the fantastic community response in a coherent way.
“This has been a huge effort on the part of all involved, and I’m grateful to all our staff and partners, including the County Council, pharmacies, food banks and other agencies, voluntary and charitable organisations and businesses, who have so willingly and rapidly completely changed their ways of working to make this possible.
“Following the announcement on Monday of further distancing measures I know some people have been unsure whether they should continue to shop for friends and relatives self-isolating. This is fantastic and much needed support that our Hubs are not aiming to replace, please continue to help your friends and family where possible. The government says you are allowed to leave your home to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. If you do this please make sure you follow the public health guidance about washing your hands before and after, using hand sanitiser and keeping a two-meter or six-foot distance from others. Where possible, it is sensible to leave the shopping on the doorstep for them rather than handing it to them directly.”
Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities
For the latest information and guidance from the City Council on health advice and how Council services are responding to the situation, visit our Coronavirus page.