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Added June 3rd 2020

Vlog Videos from BCC

There are many topics covered here and are updated daily.

Vlog can be found at: https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/video-updates/ scroll down on the page this links to for a list of video topics.

Use public transport safely says Council

 

For those who need to use public transport to make essential journeys, the advice is to check all the latest Government guidance to stay safe and protect others.

 

That's the message from Buckinghamshire Council to residents following the Government's publication of its latest advice on walking, cycling, travelling in vehicles and using all forms of public transport during the on-going pandemic https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#walking-and-cycling

 

Residents are still recommended to keep travel to a minimum by working at home wherever possible or, where this simply isn't an option, to travel by car or better still, cycle or walk.

 

However, the clear national message remains that for those who have no alternative to public transport, it's vital they understand the steps to take to maintain their own safety, that of others and to help reduce demand on transport networks.

 

The council is also working closely with operators to help get the messages out locally, make social distancing adjustments to facilities and improving information provision.

 

In particular, the council suggests:

 

When planning your journey:

 

  • Plan ahead and use a direct route.

  • Travel during off peak times if you are able.

  • Take hand sanitiser and a face covering, if you can.

  • If you require assistance, you should continue to request this as you normally would.

  • Wash or sanitise your hands at the beginning of your journey and as soon as possible when the journey is completed.

 

When making your journey:

 

  • Maintain a 2m distance where possible

  • Use a face covering if you can, particularly when you will be close to others

  • Use contactless payment where possible

  • Be patient and follow instructions from the driver

  • Wash or sanitise your hands as frequently as possible at all times throughout the day.

  • With over 2000 bus stops and shelters across the county, the Council also says it's difficult to install physical social distancing measures at every one. Instead, passengers are asked to queue safely, leaving a 2m gap wherever possible. Signage will also be installed at some shelters with higher footfall.

 

And then, when on the bus, people should spread out as far as possible and follow any directions from the driver.

 

One site where social distancing is more difficult is Aylesbury bus station due to its layout within an enclosed space and smaller boarding areas. The Council is therefore publishing information so people can consider catching or getting off the bus at a nearby stop if they are able.This will make it easier and safer for those who do need to use the  bus station itself and is a good way to keep up that daily exercise!

 

Maps and information will be displayed so people know where the alternative stops are around Aylesbury town centre.

 

Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Logistics, David Martin said everything was being done to make bus travel as safe as possible. "Many Buckinghamshire residents rely on their local buses as they have no alternative way of making essential journeys during this pandemic, so we are doing whatever we realistically can to help them to do this safely."

 

David added, "We're working closely with all our local bus operators to make things as easy as possible for people whilst maintaining their safety and protection. These changes are going to be with us for months to come, so I would ask people to consider what best works for them in the longer term and to be patient and considerate towards fellow travellers and drivers."

 

For further information about bus travel across Buckinghamshire, please visit - https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/transport-and-roads/buses-and-trains/service-disruption-and-stop-closures/ You can also follow us on Twitter @bucksbuses 

Parents asked to follow new school transport guidelines during coronavirus

As schools get ready to welcome back more pupils from 1 June, Buckinghamshire Council is asking parents to help reduce the numbers of passengers using school transport services by following government guidance and taking their children to school if they are able to do so.

The Council is working with transport providers to make sure that the government's guidance is followed on their services to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. However, maintaining social distancing during journeys is likely to be a challenge, which is why parents are being asked to assist where they can by following the government’s guidance to take  their children to school by other means, whether by walking, cycling or using the car. The fewer children that travel on school buses, the better the social distancing will  be for those who have no alternative.

The Council's advice and guidance on school transport during coronavirus is available here: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/service-changes/school-transport-faqs-parents/faqs-wider-opening-schools-1-june-2020

For those parents whose children are entitled to free transport because they have special educational needs (SEN), the Council is running a mileage payment scheme for parents if they are able to take their children to school themselves. The scheme pays the normal mileage rate of 45p per mile for a four way journey each day, covering a round trip twice a day, during this period of disruption. Find out more about the SEN mileage payment scheme at www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/service-changes/school-transport-faqs-parents/faqs-transport-places

David Martin, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Logistics, said: "Coronavirus means that many of our routine daily activities cannot continue as before, and school buses are a case in point. Usually they are full which means students are in close contact with each other throughout their journeys. When school buses resume taking some of our children to school next week, we will try to ensure appropriate social distancing on them wherever possible; but all parents and carers will of course understand there is no way to ensure with certainty that there will be no contact at some time during their children’s journeys. I therefore ask the parents and carers of children returning to school next week to, if at all possible, find alternative ways of getting your children to school during this difficult time. Making your own arrangements will not only reduce any risk of infection to your children; but make social distancing easier for others who have no option but to use the bus.”

Cabinet Member for Education and Skills Anita Cranmer said: "As schools make their preparations on the many aspects of keeping everyone safe as children start to return after the lockdown, school transport poses a particular challenge. We're working closely with both schools and transport operators to ensure that the risk of spreading the virus is as low as possible. Parents also have a part they can play by finding other ways to get to school where this is possible."
More mobile coronavirus testing sites for High Wycombe and Amersham this week

More coronavirus mobile testing sites will be coming to High Wycombe and Amersham this week

The first will be up and running in High Wycombe for up to three days from Tuesday, 2 June.

And another will be operating from Amersham for up to two days from Friday, 5 June.

These are the third mobile sites to come to both High Wycombe and Amersham in recent weeks and follow others in Buckingham and Aylesbury last month.

They are in addition to other local and regional coronavirus testing sites, which are still available for residents in Buckinghamshire to use.

Anyone aged 5 years and over who has coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) is now eligible to be tested.

However, tests for essential workers, such as frontline healthcare staff, are being prioritised over tests for the wider public at this time. Children under 5 who have symptoms and live in the same household as an essential worker are also now eligible for testing.

To arrange a test, go to www.gov.uk/coronavirus and click on the appropriate link for you within the ‘testing’ section of information. The booking process is slightly different for members of the public to that for essential workers.

Tests must be booked and are not available on a ‘drop-in’ basis. You can also book a test at a different site via the website. Further details of the testing sites will be provided to people when they book their test.

If the mobile testing sites are fully booked then you will be offered testing at the next-closest location.

Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Engagement at Buckinghamshire Council, said: “Testing is now available to anyone over the age of 5 who has coronavirus symptoms, not just essential workers – although they continue to be prioritised for obvious reasons. This is great news and a vital step as aspects of lockdown ease and we work together to stop the spread of coronavirus. If you think you need a test, please book a slot.”

Dr Raj Bajwa, GP and Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Testing is essential to help keep NHS services running smoothly during this outbreak, and to help vulnerable people stay as safe as possible from coronavirus infection. These mobile sites will offer a great boost to our testing capabilities in Buckinghamshire, so we hope they will be well-used by those that need them.”

You can find out more about getting tested as a member of the public with symptoms here - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-for-coronavirus/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/

And you can find out more about getting tested as an essential worker here - https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers
Council says enjoy Bucks' Country Parks responsibly

Buckinghamshire's three main country parks have seen a surge in usage since they reopened to the public three weeks ago, after exercise restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic were relaxed by the government.

However, with further relaxations coming into effect this week, the council is keen to remind visitors to Black Park, Langley Park and Denham Country Park, to act responsibly while they enjoy the beautiful landscape and surroundings these areas offer.

The council says that while it's great to see people out enjoying the countryside, there have been a number of incidents of littering, lack of social distancing between different groups and poor parking on nearby local roads.

Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Clive Harriss said that everything possible was being done to ensure the parks were clean and safe for everyone to enjoy, but stressed the importance of visitors playing their part too.

"It's been great to see people back in our country parks and enjoying the outdoors. Even though not all of the parks' facilities are open, they are still proving to be a popular 'go-to' place for both existing visitors but also new customers as well.

"While the majority of visitors are extremely considerate, we have had a few safety related instances and cases where unsightly litter has been left.

"In particular, could I ask visitors to take all their litter home or use the bins provided; to use the designated car parks rather than clogging up local lanes and also to respect social distancing when using narrower paths and routes in the parks."

The council says that when walking or cycling, groups should ideally be in single file to create as much space as possible for people to pass each other. Also, those walking their dogs should keep them under control at all times, ideally on a lead.

Clive added; "Just following a few simple rules will mean everyone can enjoy their visit all the more. Can I also pass on my thanks to park staff, regular visitors and local residents who I know have been helping to clear up other people's litter to keep the parks looking their best and to prevent any danger to wildlife."

"One picture we have been sent clearly shows the danger to animals. This example was on agricultural land just outside one of our parks but it really brings home how careful people must be with disposing of their litter."

The council also says that although some toilet facilities are available at Black Park and Langley Park, capacity is severely limited, so recommends people consider this when planning their visit. At present government guidance is to use public toilet facilities only where absolutely necessary so people may want to think about visiting for a shorter time that usual.

Park staff are hoping to install additional hand washing facilities shortly, however the message is to take personal responsibility and bring hand sanitiser with you rather than using on-site facilities.

For all the latest information about visiting Country Parks, please visit www.countryparks.buckscc.gov.uk
Trading Standards alert over 'test and trace' scammers

'Think before you click' scam alerts have been sounded by Trading Standards officers to try to head off scams in the wake of the launch of the Government's coronavirus Test & Trace system.

Virus lockdown has seen an estimated 40% increase in reported doorstep, phone and email scams across Buckinghamshire, and Trading Standards say their priority is to protect residents from potential text, email and phone frauds based on the new NHS Test & Trace system.

They warn people to be wary of 'phishing' texts and emails, to 'think before you click' on a link in a text or email suggesting, for example, that someone testing positive to Covid-19 had come into contact with them and recommending a click-link for more help.

Fred Wilson, Buckinghamshire Council's Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, said:"The important thing to remember is to always be alert. If in doubt, do NOT click on any links that could send your details straight to the scammers."

He said although alerts from the NHS Test & Trace service could come by text, email or phone call, there was clear Government guidance as to how it works, and there was no need to give financial information as it is a free service.

Fred said that while traditional scams targeted older and more vulnerable people, Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards warned lockdown scams are no respecter of age or socio-economic profile.

Classic examples so far have ranged from emails and texts claiming you are due a refund from your TV licence, council tax or income tax, using Covid-19 as bait and providing a dodgy link, to fake texts purporting to be from the government promising a ‘relief’ payout and providing a fake link.

Other scams have involved shopping orders: facemasks that never arrive, hand sanitiser that isn't, even fake NHS lanyards for sale.

"Criminals can spoof texts, making messages appear in a chain of texts alongside previous genuine messages making them look so plausible," said Fred. "So as the Test & Trace scheme rolls out, the warning is to be very alert. Don't give them a foothold in Buckinghamshire!"

Fred said residents should forward dodgy-looking emails to the National Cyber Security Centre at report@phishing.gov.uk

Lockdown scam losses could have been much worse, were it not for Trading Standards officers' vigilance and preventive action against scam phone calls, which try to get residents' bank details.

They have supplied potential victims with free Truecall blocking devices that during four months stopped more than 1,400 nuisance phone calls, 276 of which were fraudulent, saving residents an estimated total of £830,000 in potentially scammed cash. In addition Trading Standards had 43 unsolicited calls reported.
CSP resident needs accomodation whilst builders are in.

If you can help out Jennifer Gethin for 10-12 weeks whilst her bungalow is reing remodelled she would be very pleased to hear from you. Email jennifergethin@icloud.com

Added May 27th 2020

Traffic control measures allow last four Bucks recycling centres to reopen this Friday

 

Four Buckinghamshire household recycling centres that have remained closed since the coronavirus lockdown was enforced are set to reopen this week with traffic measures in place to manage queues at busy times.

 

The sites at Aylesbury (Rabans Lane), Burnham, Chesham and Langley will reopen on Friday 29 May, which will mean that from that date all nine of the county's recycling centres will once again be open. Residents still need to carefully consider whether their trip is essential and only visit these sites if they cannot store their waste or dispose of it in another responsible way. These four sites will resume their normal summer opening times, that's 9am to 6pm. Langley is open seven days a week and the other three sites are open every day except Wednesday and Thursday.

 

The number of people allowed to visit any site at one time has to be limited to ensure social distancing, so queues will build up during busy times. In the case of the four sites that are set to reopen on Friday, the local road layout means queues would be likely to affect the flow of traffic near the sites and potentially be a safety risk to other road users. To alleviate this, traffic control measures are being put in place by Transport for Buckinghamshire around each site:

 

Aylesbury (Rabans Lane) - Temporary parking restrictions will be in force on Rabans Close to stop queues blocking the road

 

Burnham - Residents can only access the site via Walton Lane. When exiting the site residents must use Crow Piece Lane or Allerds Road. Diversion signs will be in place.

 

Chesham - Temporary stop/go traffic management will be in place on Latimer Road to keep traffic flowing. If the site is full, residents should visit at a quieter time. Please do not queue on Latimer Road.

 

Langley - Residents can only access the site from north end of Trenches Lane. There is no access to the site from the B470 (Langley Park Road). Diversion signs will be in place.

 

Residents are asked:

 

  • Carefully consider whether the trip is essential. Only visit if the waste cannot be stored or disposed of via a registered waste contractor.

  • Bring proof of address. Only Buckinghamshire residents will be allowed entry, though Burnham and Langley sites will also admit residents of Slough, who must also bring proof of address.

  • Check waiting times online to avoid busiest times.

  • Don't arrive before the sites open - a queue makes it difficult for site staff to get to work and open on time.

  • Remember social distancing measures are now in place, which also means no assistance for unloading can be provided.

  • Don't bring a trailer. The permit system is still in place, but trailers will not be accepted at any site.

  • That only one person gets out of the vehicle whilst on site.

  • Remember that non-household waste will be charged for in the usual way.

 

Bill Chapple OBE, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Environment & Climate Change, said: "I'm really pleased to announce the reopening of the remaining four of our household recycling centres this Friday (29 May), giving residents more options if they have waste that really can't be stored for the time being.

 

"I thank people who have been visiting the five sites already open for their care in observing the social distancing measures. Part of this is that we can only allow a few people to be inside the site at any one time, so there are queues at busy times. With the four sites reopening this Friday, the road layout near each sites means that queues would cause traffic problems, so we're bringing in traffic controls to help prevent this. I would ask for people's patience with these new controls, which are there to make it easier and safer for both recycling centre visitors and others using these roads."

 

Road plans of the traffic control measures at each site can be found on the Buckinghamshire Council website: www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/waste-and-recycling/household-recycling-centres

For further information on all waste services, please visit the Council's website - https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/service-changes/coronavirus-waste-services-all-districts/

Council urges people to exercise safely as tennis courts and basketball courts open

Following the recently updated coronavirus guidance from Government, tennis courts and multi use games areas across some of Buckinghamshire’s parks are open for people to use for outdoor exercise from Friday (22 May).

 

While people are now able to exercise more than once a day and make use of facilities like tennis courts and multi-use games areas, Buckinghamshire Council is reminding people to continue to keep more than 2 metres apart, be considerate of others and exercise safely.

 

In line with the updated advice, the council is keen to ensure people are able to do outdoor physical activity for the purpose of health and wellbeing with some clear guidance and restrictions on how to do this safely.

 

Facilities in parks like children’s play areas and outdoor gyms will remain closed to maintain social distancing and limit the spread of the virus.

 

Tennis courts and multi use game areas will be open for public use from today with posters advising people how they should be used:               

 

  • A maximum of one household at a time or two people from different households

  • Keep a 2 metre distance from people not in your household

  • Use your own equipment

  • Keep your hands clean

  • Only meet one other person outside of your household for one on one games

  • Help keep our parks clean and take your litter home

  • Be considerate of others in sharing the facilities

 

Cabinet member for Sports and Leisure, Clive Harriss, says: “The health and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority and we’re doing our best to make sure our parks and sports courts are available for people to exercise safely.  It’s up to all of us to make sure that we continue to do our bit and limit the spread of the virus as much as possible – so please remember to keep your distance, only use the courts with your household or one other person from outside your household and be considerate of others in our parks.”

 

To find out where your local park is and what facilities they have please visit:  https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/service-changes/outdoor-game-areas/

New Clearway plans to keep beauty spot lanes safe

Temporary restrictions on parking around some of Buckinghamshire's beauty spots are planned next month (June) as coronavirus lockdown rules are lifted.

Some visitor attractions are fed by narrow roads, and the aim of the parking restrictions - in the form of a 24-hour Rural Clearway - is to keep them clear of parked cars for the safety of emergency vehicles, key workers and essential deliveries.

With the easing of lockdown rules about travel, leisure and exercise, narrow roads around Black Park, Langley Park, Denham Country Park,and Dorney Reach in the south of the county, have become clogged with visitors' cars, says David Martin, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Logistics. The problem also affects approaches to the Stockgrove entrance to Rushmere Country Park in the north-east of the county.

Patrols recorded parking increases around some beauty spots to as high as 70% of pre-lockdown levels.

"During these difficult times most drivers have been parking considerately," said David. "But as more and more people get out and about in their cars, we want to control the risk of dangerous and inconsiderate parking, so that the way is clear for our emergency services to get through, and to keep traffic flowing."

Roads affected by the planned Rural Clearway rules include Rowley Lane, Black Park Road, Fulmer Common Road, Billet Lane and Bellswood Lane, in the Iver area; Denham Court Lane, Denham; Court Lane and Marsh Lane, near Dorney Reach; and Brickhill Road, Heath & Reach.

Meanwhile, Buckinghamshire Council's relaxation on parking on-street and in council car parks continues. The amnesty includes parking on single yellow lines, in limited waiting areas and in pay-and-display bays. The change was made to help support local communities, businesses, key workers and volunteers.

David urged residents to make use of the free car parks, to help keep roads clear, but reminded residents these don't include country park car parks. He also warned motorists to expect a warning notice if they overstayed a limited time parking bay, to ensure fair play for all drivers.

Some restrictions were not lifted during this time - disabled parking bays, pedestrian clearways and double yellow lines, for the public’s safety. Buckinghamshire Council has seen an increase in abuse of these restrictions and will continue to issue Penalty Charge Notices.

"With more cars on the road now, we need to make sure we are considerate with our parking," he said. Parking patrols, he added, would continue to deal with improper parking, obstruction, parking on double yellow lines, and persistent congestion in residential areas.
Domestic Abuse Engage Session - Thursday 28 May
Tomorrow, between 6pm – 8pm, Thames Valley Police and support organisations will be holding a live Domestic Abuse Q&A session on the TVP Engage website. www.tvpengage.co.uk

Are you experiencing domestic abuse, or are you worried about a family member, friend, neighbour or colleague?

You can send us your questions on the TVP Engage website and our panel of experts will be able to provide answers and guidance, both publicly and privately.

How can I join the conversation and send my question?
- Go on the TVP Engage website www.tvpengage.co.uk between 6pm to 8pm.
- Once you arrive on the TVP Engage website, you can type in your question;
- You will need to add a name that will appear next to your question in the question stream. If you do not want your real name to be displayed, you can use an alternative name;
- Questions will be visible in the questions stream only once they are answered, so it might take a few minutes until you will see your question answered in the public question stream;
- If you would like your question to be answered privately, please let us know; we will respond directly to your question and it will not appear on the public feed.

Among our partner organisations joining us tomorrow we have Victims First, Berkshire Women’s Aid, ManKind, Flag DV, Reducing the Risk, SAFE! and Aylesbury Vale And Milton Keynes Sexual Assault And Abuse Support Service.

If you believe someone could benefit from having a chat to us, then please let them know about this Q&A session.
The Neighbourhood Watch June 'Our News' enewsletter is out!

With the lockdown remaining fully in place in Wales and measures in England altering, Neighbourhood Watch groups continue to support individuals and their communities to adapt, stay safe and manage the situation.We have been collecting stories of all the amazing work going on, several of which are in this newsletter.

"The range of support offered is fantastic and a real testament to how Neighbourhood Watch groups all across England and Wales have stood up to support others and their communities".
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO, Neighbourhood Watch Network

We are fast approaching the annual Neighbourhood Watch Week, 7th - 13th June, and there is lots of information in this newsletter on how to get involved and get active in celebrating your neighbours. If you have plans to get involved, let us know by emailing enquiries@ourwatch.org.uk so we can support you.

This year we have slightly separate messages for our English and Welsh supporters in line with the Government's guidance.  Both versions can be accessed on our website here.

Happy reading and thank you for your continued support.
Central Support Team, Neighbourhood Watch Network

Added May 20th 2020

Child contact centre staff finding new ways to help local families

Drivers from Buckinghamshire Council’s Children’s Services team are taking on vital new roles across Buckinghamshire, including transporting families to safety and delivering essential supplies.

As a result of government guidelines to close contact centres and for people to stay home, the service has been supporting children and families to keep in touch in different ways, with some of the staff taking on different roles to help out where they can.

Dion Cloke and Esther Clarke, two drivers from the Council’s child contact centres, would normally transport children to and from visits and appointments.

But with the contact centres currently closed, Dion and Esther have been getting involved in a range of activities to support children and families in the county, from collecting and delivering food parcels to care leavers, collecting medication, baby products and purchasing and delivering other essential supplies.

Both Dion and Esther have supported social work teams with other essential tasks including transporting a newborn baby and mother to a new place to live, transporting a family to a place of safety following a domestic violence incident and helping a vulnerable care leaver move accommodation. All of these journeys meant going above and beyond, many times returning home late at night

Dion said, “The families we normally work with are vulnerable, but a pandemic like this can really make things so much more difficult for them, so we’re pleased we can still help.”

“We are working hard but these young people and families need our support and community, so it is all worthwhile”, added Esther.

Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services Mark Shaw says, “The dedication and compassion to help our vulnerable families really does make me proud of our staff and #ProudofBucks!”

“We know there are vulnerable families and young people living alone with no one looking out for them who might need extra help. So if you do know of someone that needs support, or you see something suspicious, trust your instincts and get in touch.”

If you know a family or young person who may need support please get in touch with our community hub team https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/community-hub/

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence then please contact the police on 999 if it’s an emergency, alternatively call 101 or report it online
https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/
Mental Health Awareness Week

Support Is Available Across Buckinghamshire

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme of the week this year is kindness – over the past couple of months we’ve seen the importance of kindness in uncertain times.

However, while it’s important to look out for others at the moment, it’s equally important to be kind to yourself too.

We’re here to remind you that support is out there if you need it.

The Mental Health Foundation has specific advice on how to look after your mental health during the pandemic: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus

You can also create a personalised plan of activities on Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters site: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

Help is available across Buckinghamshire:

Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Mental Health Helpline: 01865 904997 (24/7). Can provide support and advice for anxiety, low mood, stress, feeling helpless and difficulty with relationships.

Buckinghamshire Mind: https://www.bucksmind.org.uk/

For more information on accessing support services in your area, you can call Mind’s infoline on 0300 123 3393 between 9am and 6pm Monday-Friday.

If you’re struggling to cope, you can call the Samaritans 24/7 helpline on 116 123. Support is always out there if you need it.

You can find out more about how we’re supporting Mental Health Awareness Week on our social media channels and join in the conversation using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
Why kindness works for everyone

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and especially in these strange times, we need to think about our own mental health as much as that of others around us.

This year’s theme is ‘kindness’ and we’ve been reflecting on how events of the past few months can make us forget to take time for ourselves. We’ve all experienced worry about loved ones, our jobs or finances and the changes to our day to day life which makes it really important for our mental health to keep checking in on ourselves too.

Being kind to yourself is often overlooked but there are lots of ways you can improve the way you feel. A great way to start is to try the simple Five Ways to Wellbeing plan and see what a difference it can make.

Buckinghamshire Mind sets it out in a really easy to grasp way on their website www.bucksmind.org.uk/services/five-ways-to-wellbeing/ but in short, the 5 Ways are:

Connect – stay in contact with friends, don’t just rely on social media to keep in touch, give them a call, write a letter or try a video call. The good news is that you can now meet a friend in person, in the open, but you still need to remain 2 metres apart. Remember to follow the Government’s guidelines about staying at home if you are ill.

Be Active - try a new activity. Check out www.activebucks.co.uk  for some ideas. They have lots of links for staying healthy whilst staying at home as well as other activities you can go out to try when we are able to exercise in groups again. You can now exercise when you want to but with no more than one person from your household and you’ll need to stay 2 metres away from other people.

Take Notice – make the most of getting out for some fresh air and exercise each day, the trees are getting their leaves, blossom is flowering and the birds are singing their hearts out in our beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside. Really think about what you can see, hear and smell. If you are unable to get out, you could listen to some favourite music. Our fabulous country parks have just reopened and you can find out more about them at https://countryparks.buckscc.gov.uk/

Keep Learning - maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a language? Visit www.adultlearningbcc.ac.uk for some inspiration from Assertiveness to Yoga there’s something for everyone and lots can be done online.

Give - give back to your community. Volunteering is a really good way to support people or organisations in and around your local (or national) area, and as some people begin to return to work, there will be a need for new volunteers to step in to continue the great work being done in our communities during coronavirus. To find out how, visit http://volunteeringbucks.org.uk/

By building these simple steps into your everyday activities, you can maintain good mental health and stay on top of your game, whilst also improving your physical health too.

Please remember to stay safe when you venture outside, remain at least 2 metres away from other people and only exercise with members of your own household.

Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health adds:

“In these challenging times, we want to help prevent residents from experiencing mental health issues. There are many ways to improve how you feel and by building simple steps into your everyday life, you can help yourself avoid or balance the stresses and strains of a busy life.

“The Five Ways to Wellbeing plan is an easy and achievable way to start looking after your own mental health, so why not give it a try?

“Don’t forget that all of our mental health support partners are still working and there to help you if you need it including the NHS Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. For help for adults call 01865 904 997 and for children and young people, call 01865 904 998.”
Chiltern Community Forum 26th May 6-30Pm Via Zoom

The meeting this time obviously cannot go ahead as normal. However, we will be holding a 'virtual' meeting via Zoom at this time.

If you wish to take part please email contact@chilterncommunityforum.org with your contact details including email address you wish to use for the Zoom meeting.

Even if you are unable to be part of the meeting then please help us decide the priorities for the next three months.

Click on this link and chose your priorities from a short survey

https://www.chilterncommunityforum.org/meetings/forum-26th-may-2020/

FUNDING DURING COVID-19

 

The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 has meant many fundraising events and appeals have been cancelled or postponed resulting in charities and small organisations having to find alternative ways to generate awareness, attract new donors, and raise money during the pandemic.

 

When you spot a suitable funding opportunity, move quickly or you could miss out. We’re sharing a reminder in today’s briefing about two grant funds from Buckinghamshire Council which we know are being spent rapidly – if you think you’re eligible and you haven’t applied yet, get your applications in soon.

 

Have a look at the funding opportunities below as well as our funding support guidance and, if you have launched a fundraising appeal, let us know and we’ll share it on our Bucks fundraising appeals page and promote it on social media: email comms@communityimpactbucks.org.uk.

 

WEBINAR ON EMERGENCY FINANCE OPTIONS 

 

Good Finance is hosting a webinar on 27th May to discuss new emergency finance options available for social enterprises and charities. This webinar will discuss the range of repayable finance options available, including the Government’s Bounce Back Loans, the new Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund, as well as other options available for VCSE organisations.  To register for the webinar, click here

 

VIRTUAL FUNDING

 

Giving Day is an innovative one day (24 hours) fundraising programme allowing supporters to engage and unite in fun and unique challenges virtually rather than at a physical location. Any competitive activity is welcome, fitness apps can be used to help connect supporters with how the challenges are progressing.

 

Blackbaud and Just Giving have teamed up to offer a toolkit to help you launch your Giving Day, including creating fully branded microsites which allow you to create and launch online appeals to promote and publicise your virtual event. To find out more about creating your own Giving Day, go to Blackbaurd’s virtual fundraising.

 

#FundAlert: BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COUNCILLOR'S FUND

 

Set up from the 16 Community Boards to allow councillors to support their local voluntary and community groups where it is needed the most, Buckinghamshire Council’s coronavirus Councillor Fund is still open though you are encouraged to apply now before funding is used up.

 

Groups and charities can apply for grants of up to £2000 to meet the needs of vulnerable residents affected by the COVID-19 crisis. All applications must be made through your local councillor and will take around four working days to turnaround. Some suggestions as to how the funds might be used include:

 

  • Purchase of food and/or other essential items for individuals and families who are self-isolating and in financial difficulty

  • Petrol expenses

  • Community transport initiatives to support local deliveries

  • Set and communication of local support and delivery schemes

  • Emergency repairs

  • Online initiatives to reduce social isolation and/or increase community cohesion.

 

This emergency fund of £250k is split between the 16 areas to ensure consistency and a fair distribution.

 

#FundAlert: SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY BUILDINGS AND OTHER SMALL CHARITY RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE SPACES

 

In our COVID-19 Briefing #21, we highlighted that the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant has provision to support charities including village halls and community buildings. We are hearing that some village halls in the county have received grants through this fund and would highly recommend other community buildings and eligible charity retail, hospitality and leisure spaces apply quickly as there is cap on how much total grant funding is available to Buckinghamshire.

 

You can apply directly to Buckinghamshire Council via their website. When completing the online application form we suggest you include your charity rates number, in place of a business rates account number.

Spike in doorstep crime as lockdown is eased

Heartless doorstep criminals have scammed an elderly Buckinghamshire resident out of £20,000 for spurious roof repairs while his wife was in hospital being treated for Covid-19.

 

Two cold-callers, offering to clean gutters for £15, ended up relieving the resident of thousands after telling him his roof tiles needed urgent attention. A family member raised the alarm when the scammers asked for another £20,000.

 

This was one of three scams reported in Buckinghamshire as coronavirus lockdown rules were relaxed over the past week, representing a spike in doorstep crime from reports over the last two months.

 

And it has prompted fresh warnings from Trading Standards officers to residents, their neighbours and families, to be wary of cold calling and to report anything suspicious.

 

In another incident, doorstep callers conned a resident out of £50,000 for "fixing" a loose chimney and other roof work that didn't need doing. The resident's bank raised an alert over the amount being withdrawn from the account.

 

A third incident involved two cold callers who said they were exempt from lockdown restrictions. Fortunately, the resident didn’t like their attitude and sent them packing.

 

"That's exactly what we should be doing to these cowboys - send them away," said Fred Wilson, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services.. "I'm urging residents to be very, very wary about responding to cold-callers on the doorstep.

 

"These rogues target the elderly or vulnerable and pressure them to start work immediately," explained Fred. "Once they've started the price rockets and they clear off once they've been paid, leaving the work half done and the resident bewildered and traumatised.

 

"Our Trading Standards officers work hard to catch these criminals, and fortunately we have ears and eyes of a fantastic number of people in our Street Associations around the county who look out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours, watching out for scammers. I'd encourage everyone to keep a weather eye at this time.”

 

As communities emerge from lockdown and the weather improves, Trading Standards anticipates an increase in rogue trader fraud on the doorstep, especially targeting vulnerable residents who may be maintaining social distancing.

 

Fred said Trading Standards' advice was always to say "No thank you – please leave" and then close the door. Where there is concern about possible danger, he advised calling the police on 101 or, in an emergency, dialling 999. Trading Standards can be reached via the Citizens' Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.

 

For work that needs doing, Trading Standards recommends residents use a legitimate business such as those listed at the Trading Standards-approved trader scheme www.traders4u.co.uk 

 

Top tips to avoid getting tricked out of your money:

 

  • Be sceptical, don’t be afraid to shut the door.

  • Take your time, don’t be rushed.

  • Know who you’re dealing with, if you need help talk to someone you know or get in touch with the council.

  • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know.

  • Never engage with someone or allow them access to your home unless you are able to verify their authenticity and who they are.

 

The three doorstep crime reports are being urgently investigated by Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards with Thames Valley Police.

 

In the past two years Trading Standards have investigated 120 reports of doorstep crimes across Buckinghamshire.

Added May 13th 2020

Vlog Videos from BCC

There are many topics covered here and are updated daily.

Vlog can be found at: https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/video-updates/ scroll down on the page this links to for a list of video topics.
Library staff keep the pages turning for Buckinghamshire residents during Coronavirus crisis

Although library buildings are closed, the service is very much open with library staff busy promoting digital services that people can access from home.

Library members are taking full advantage of the free online resources, such as eBooks and eAudio books, with an increased number of book titles available. With nearly 600 new online members, a 60% increase on eBook issues and eAudio usage up by 21% since March, library staff have been making sure that Bucks continues to read and learn during lockdown. 

What residents may not know is that library staff have also joined the cross-council effort to support vulnerable people during the Coronavirus crisis. Many of them have taken on different roles as part of the eight Local Support Hubs across the county and doing what they do best – talking to people and building strong relationships with local communities.

Stories from library staff working at the Beaconsfield, Princes Risborough, Amersham and Marlow Hubs offer an insight into how they are working differently and what they are doing to help residents.

Micheline Katts is working in the Marlow Hub and spends her day phoning vulnerable residents regarding food and medication supplies, delivering emergency food parcels and putting residents in touch with local volunteers for basic shopping. For Micheline and other “hubbies”, as the Hub workers are affectionately known, each morning starts with making calls to new residents on the shielded list, finding out what help and support they need and making sure the right organisations and volunteers are involved. Micheline also does Keep In Touch (KIT) calls which are a vital part of ensuring the wellbeing of residents. Micheline commented: ‘What has been particularly humbling is how grateful our residents are for this contact. We build a rapport with residents via KIT making them feel safe as they get to know and trust you. I have spoken to so many over the last weeks and have enjoyed getting to know them.’

For many residents shielding at home, their only contact is with those working at their Local Support Hub. Area Manager Laura Davies has been working with the Beaconsfield Hub team, and points out that ‘just a friendly voice on the end of the phone is a real boost’ for isolated residents. Laura and the other Beaconsfield Hub helpers have been focusing on regular call backs to see how people are getting on. Laura sums up her experience so far: ‘It has been really interesting to work with people from both within and outside of our library team and I have been so impressed by how willing everyone is to help and how quickly everyone has adapted to new roles. Helping with the Hubs has allowed me to stay connected to one of the aspects that I most love about my job and that is helping people. To hear people say that your call has made their day is job satisfaction in a nutshell.’

It’s a similar story at the Princes Risborough Hub. Aylesbury Senior Library Manager Mick Harris and his colleagues have also been calling residents to offer a range of support and advice, from the basics of heating and hot water to financial information. Mick highlights just how important this contact is for residents: ‘We have been lucky to receive praise and kind words from people grateful for the contact and support, as well as in some cases being the only person someone has spoken to all week. I think I speak for us all though when I say that we do feel that we’ve made a difference.’

Likewise, working at the Amersham Hub has allowed Roberta Wixon to build trust with those residents most at risk. A few situations have arisen where Roberta has really been able to make a difference, including emergency deliveries of food consisting of items from her own food cupboards! She added: ‘I would like to take the opportunity to thank our Amersham hub leader Errol Crawford and team members who have managed to make me laugh every day. People have genuinely thanked me for helping them, which has been really lovely.’

Although the primary focus of the Hubs is to ensure vulnerable residents have access to necessities, it is clear that what people really value is the compassion and time spent taking care of their mental wellbeing. These stories from library staff are just one snapshot of the huge efforts by council workers, who are working in different roles than usual to improve the lives of residents during this turbulent time. Cllr Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member Communities & Public Health commented: ‘I’m really proud of how our staff have risen to the challenge. I think staff are getting just as much out of this as residents, and hopefully our new connections in the community will continue to thrive after life begins to return to normal.’
Neighbourhood Watch makes it easier for everyone to connect with their communities and prevent crime.
It’s now easier to access information on crime prevention and ways of connecting with your community through the revamped website for the millions of Neighbourhood Watch supporters across England and Wales.

Neighbourhood Watch groups have been in the vanguard of community responses to the COVID-19 crisis, through their own efforts and by working with others in their communities. John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, said: “Neighbours looking out for each other is key to building strong and resilient communities which help to prevent crime, and the COVID-19 emergency has highlighted this more than ever. Our members have been testing the new website for several weeks and report that it has helped them focus on actions that make a difference locally by sharing learning and resources”.

 

The new website provides toolkits on domestic abuse and scams that have increased in prevalence during the pandemic, as well as information on preventing and reporting burglary, child sexual exploitation, serious violence and terrorism. There are also guides to tackling loneliness and vulnerability, and advice on CCTV usage, disability crime, vehicle crime and hate crime. An ‘Inspiration’ section demonstrates the wide variety of work undertaken by Neighbourhood Watch volunteers, including running awareness campaigns; organising litter picks; establishing community cafés; responding to floods; and delivering presentations in schools. Neighbourhood Watch is a grassroots movement with over two million supporters across England and Wales. The movement works in partnership with the Police, the Home Office, corporate partners and other voluntary organisations to prevent crime, strengthen local community links and keep people safe. Key facts are:

 

 

  • Neighbourhood Watch is the largest voluntary movement focused on crime prevention in England and Wales. Over 2.3 million people belong to local schemes which are supported by voluntary Associations.

 

  • Neighbourhood Watch Network is an independent charity which acts as the national umbrella organisation for the movement.

 

  • Membership of Neighbourhood Watch schemes is open to all and is free although donations may be requested by local groups.

 

 

For local information please email to chilternnhw@gmail.com.

 

 

More failed email deliveries

Last week a special one off extra email was sent out on Thursday 7th. It was a VE Day +75 notice, primarily for the resisdents or people with links to Chalfont St. Giles. If you were one of those that didn't recieve it then you may still view the link on the Chalfont St. Giles Village website here, http://www.chalfontstgiles.org.uk/VE-DAY.html

As usual, the majority of the bounces were to email addresses @btinternet.
Bucks country parks reopen to help visitors enjoy more outdoor activity

Buckinghamshire Council has today (13 May) reopened its four country parks in response to the latest Government coronavirus advice which now allows people to make more of the outdoors.

Langley Park, Black Park, Denham Country Park and Thorney Park in the south of the county are all back open for business allowing visitors to exercise more, take a walk, or simply enjoy a picnic in some of the most beautiful surroundings in Buckinghamshire.

Reopening the country parks has however meant introducing a number of restrictions to meet current social distancing requirements. All toilets, cafes, playgrounds and play areas in the parks have to remain closed along with the Go Ape facility at Black Park. Some other areas will also remain closed until new arrangements have been made to enable social distancing, including the Temple Gardens in Langley Park, the visitor centres and main office.

In addition, the charges to use the dedicated car parks remain in force, meaning that a ticket needs to be purchased from one of the machines or making sure existing parking season tickets are clearly displayed.

Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Sports and Leisure, Clive Harriss said this was another important measure to help residents as the country takes its first tentative steps to sensibly and safely emerge from the lockdown.

"In addition to our municipal parks, footpaths and rights of way which have all remained open during the pandemic, I'm delighted that, as the government has now relaxed restrictions on exercise and travel, we can now reopen around 800 acres of beautiful county park land to the public.

"Of course, we do need visitors to play their part by maintaining a two metre gap from anyone not in their household, keeping dogs on leads at all times and taking all litter home. With the toilets not currently open, there are no hand washing facilities, so we'd also ask visitors to bring their own hand gel or sanitiser as they would do when out and about anyway. We are looking at how we can resolve this issue in the longer term."

Clive added, "To help us and to maintain the safety of others, please ensure you read all the relevant signage in the parks and leave extra gaps between cars when parking in the car parks. Height barriers are also in place at the car park entrances so please check the height of your vehicle, particularly if you have a roof mounted bike rack and bike attached."

The full details of the parks and current restrictions are:

Black Park Country Park

Pay and display parking in operation
Car park height barrier in place - 2m height limit for vehicles.
There are no hand washing facilities on site
Toilets, cafes and play areas closed
Go Ape closed

Langley Park

Pay and display parking in operation
Car park height barrier in place - 1.8m height limit for vehicles
There are no hand washing facilities on site
Toilets, cafe and play area closed
Temple Gardens (the Rhododendron collection) closed

Denham Country Park

Pay and Display parking in operation
Car park height barrier in place - 2m height limit for vehicles
There are no hand washing facilities on site
Toilets, café and play area closed

Thorney Park

No on-site facilities or parking. Local access only

For further details on the reopening of country parks and all other service area changes, please visit www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/

An extra helping hand for those receiving council tax reduction

 

Buckinghamshire Council is giving extra help to working age council taxpayers who receive a reduction to their council tax.

 

These customers will receive an extra reduction in their council tax bill of up to £150. If the original council tax charge was £150 or less then the council tax charge will be reduced to zero. If it was more than £150 then it will be reduced by £150.

 

Revised council tax bills are being sent out over the next week to those council taxpayers who will receive the extra help.

 

Cllr Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, said: “Council tax pays for many essential services such as care for our most vulnerable adults and children, waste and recycling, and roads, as well as police and fire services. The coronavirus crisis has added to our costs as we work to support our residents and businesses.

 

“With so much uncertainty surrounding what the future holds, this reduction means one less concern for residents on lower incomes.”

 

Cllr Tett added: “For those residents who can afford to pay their council tax, your ongoing payments mean we can continue to provide regular services as well as the additional support as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

 

“If you do not qualify for the reduction but are experiencing difficulty, you can contact us to discuss payments options.”

 

The contact details are:

 

  • Aylesbury area: Phone: 01296 585299

  • Chiltern area: cdcrevenue.csb@buckinghamshire.gov.uk Phone: 01494 732077

  • South Bucks area: SBDCCtax.csb@buckinghamshire.gov.uk Phone: 01895 837500

  • Wycombe area: localtax.wyc@buckinghamshire.gov.uk Phone: 01494 412226

Prescribing of gluten free foods to continue during COVID-19 emergency
Plans to stop routine prescribing put on hold

Due to the COVID-19 emergency Buckinghamshire’s Care Commissioning Group (BCCG) has taken the decision to postpone plans to stop the routine prescribing of gluten free foods.

The decision was taken in recognition of the additional challenges patients may be facing as a result of government guidelines to stay at home - for example shopping for gluten free foods, accessing deliveries and self-isolation.

This is a temporary measure to support individuals formally diagnosed with coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis during very difficult and unprecedented times.

The decision to postpone plans will be reviewed in August 2020, and following that on a monthly basis until an appropriate schedule for implementation can be put in place. At this stage we will share our plans with patients, GPs, Dietitians, Community Pharmacy’s and other stakeholders including Coeliac UK.

The decision to stop routinely prescribing gluten free foods in Buckinghamshire was originally taken by the Governing Body on 12 March 2020. This was with the exception that gluten free bread, bread mixes and flour mixes will only be available to prescribe for patients that meet the exception criteria of ‘dietary neglect’.

The Board acknowledged that some patients are vulnerable and therefore more at risk of dietary neglect. Examples of vulnerable patients who may be at risk of dietary neglect may include those with safeguarding concerns or presenting with malnutrition.

For further information please contact the Medicines Management Team at Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning group by emailing bucks.mmt@nhs.net

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