The City Council in Oxford has boosted its support for residents and businesses as the country goes into lockdown this November.
Keeping residents informed
One of the most important actions the Council has taken is to try to make sure residents and businesses know what they should do to comply with lockdown and how to get support if needed. The better people comply the quicker the infection rate will come down, enabling restrictions to be reduced.
The City Council has created a number of online resources to help residents with lockdown:
- explaining the new restrictions
- a coronavirus information hub for local residents and businesses
- a directory of essential support that can help people deal with the financial and other impacts of the virus
- an Activity Hub of online resources to help with mental and physical fitness
- an directory of local shops and hospitality businesses operating online
The council has also written to its tenants and leaseholders to explain how the lockdown affects services provided to them.
Local support for residents
The Council’s Customer Services team are experienced at helping residents find the right services for their issues, and helped thousands of callers through the last lockdown to get the help they needed. They can be contacted on the Council’s main number 01865 249 811.
In addition, to support residents the Council is restarting its six Locality Resource Hubs to help people in need of assistance to access food, medicines and essential supplies. The hubs cover Blackbird Leys, East Oxford, Rose Hill, West Oxford, Central Oxford, and North Oxford. The Council’s customer services staff will be working closely with the hubs to help people who call the council get the best local support they can. Support from customer services and the hubs can range from simple information about local support services to providing advice and support to those with financial hardship, housing needs or needing help accessing care services. Hubs can be contacted by phoning the Council or using the online form.
Clinically extremely vulnerable
The Council is contacting clinically extremely vulnerable residents to let them know what support is available. These are people who have received a Government letter to let them know they are clinically extremely vulnerable and must follow new guidelines. Local support includes help with shopping and prescriptions, support to access online supermarket bookings, access to community food support services, and a phone links service to combat loneliness.
Support for self-isolation
Financial support is available for those on low income who need to self-isolate. A one-off £500 Test and Trace Support payment is available, information about who is eligible and how to apply in on the Council web site. There is also support available to help with the practicalities like getting groceries and medicine. Fully self-isolating if you have a positive test, have symptoms or know you have been exposed to the virus is one of the most effective ways of limiting the spread. If you don’t have contact with other people while you have the virus you can’t pass it on.
Support for businesses
The City Council’s web pages contain links to useful information for business including financial support and operational matters. The Council is moving quickly to facilitate the Government’s lockdown support grants for businesses in Oxford, and details will be available this week on how to apply. The grants will support businesses that have had to close or have been severely impacted by the latest lockdown. This will benefit businesses in the retail, hospitality, leisure, accommodation, and night-time economy sectors in particular. For more information about the support available for businesses in Oxford, visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/businesssupport.
Directory of businesses open online
The Council has created a list of Oxford businesses open online. The directory contains fresh food, flowers, homeware, bicycle repair and more. It also contains Christmas gifts, including jewellery, crafts and gaming. Support Oxford’s businesses this Christmas: www.oxford.gov.uk/openonline.
The Council has also teamed up with Independent Oxford, Experience Oxfordshire and The Oxford Times to support the city’s businesses during lockdown. The four organisations will promote Oxford’s businesses – through digital and print editorial and advertising – throughout November. This will include social media advertising and local media coverage.
Covered market opening
The Council has worked with traders in the Covered Market to ensure it can stay open for grocery shopping and takeaways, click and collect or delivery services are available for non-essential shops. More information is available on www.oxford-coveredmarket.co.uk
Helping the homeless
The council has offered safe accommodation to everyone living in shared hostel spaces and experiencing rough sleeping since the original lockdown in March. There are currently 118 rooms of interim accommodation for former rough sleepers in the YHA and Canterbury House – enough for all those who choose to accept assistance. The Council’s outreach team, contracted through St Mungo’s, continues to engage with people experiencing rough sleeping – offering them all the accommodation and support they need to leave the streets behind.
Physical and mental health
Parks and playgrounds remain open for people to exercise and enjoy time in green spaces, which is great for mental as well as physical health, while Government restrictions mean the outdoor gym equipment is temporarily closed to use. The GO Active Outdoors web pages map the city parks and waterways to help residents enjoy nature in the city. All Council leisure centres are closed under lockdown restrictions.
The Council’s Activity Hub has information on activities to support physical and mental health, and contact information for groups providing support.
Enforcement through COVID secure team
The Council’s COVID secure team will be patrolling across the city in the day to check that businesses are complying with the new restrictions to close and trading safely where they are allowed to open. They are also continuing the evening patrols, which will be refocused on checking public spaces and parks to deter group gatherings and ensuring takeaway businesses and licensed premises selling alcohol are keeping to the new rules.
During the day time the parks team will also have officers in the parks to deter gatherings, able to provide education and advice on how to keep to the rules.
The Council has some enforcement responsibility for the new lockdown restrictions, and works with Thames Valley Police as the local responders to reports of house parties or businesses trading that shouldn’t be. Residents wanting to report any of the above should call 01865 249 811 or email [email protected]
“It’s really important everyone sticks to the lockdown rules so we can bring the infection rate down quickly. We are doing all we can to get the message out there about what to do and what help is available. The Council is providing a lot of support to residents and businesses to make sure we all get through this lockdown period. We know sometimes it’s difficult to live with these restrictions, but please ask for help before you put yourself and others at risk.”
Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Safer, Healthy Oxford