Staff at a North East council are being redeployed to help those in the community who are most vulnerable during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Durham County Council’s staff have been preparing food boxes to assist their Community Hubs in making sure essential items are reaching vulnerable residents who cannot leave their homes due to risk of catching the virus.
The initiative has been created to provide support when other large-scale plans, such as the Government’s food distribution programme and priority slots for supermarket deliveries, are not available to some vulnerable residents.
It will run alongside other schemes such as the council’s Welfare Assistance scheme, local shops and restaurants doing deliveries, and other local schemes ran by partner organisations and food banks.
In response to residents coming through Community Hubs in need of food, redeployed council staff have been preparing boxes which are then distributed to pick up points for Hub operatives to collect and deliver to those in need.
Over 900 food boxes have been prepared so far to assist Community Hubs across the county and will be delivered to those who have contacted the hub and need help accessing essentials.
The boxes contain enough food and supplies to last one person for around a week and will replace the need for some shopping arrangements currently in place with the Community Hub.
Community Hub staff will deliver to people’s homes following previous arrangements set up and, following the existing process, will include charging for the parcels in circumstances where residents simply need access to food and essential supplies and cannot leave their home.
Cllr Angela Surtees, Cabinet member for social inclusion, said: “It is vitally important that during the Coronavirus outbreak we all work as a team to support shielded populations and vulnerable residents who cannot leave home even to access basic supplies.
“While a large majority of residents have friends, family or neighbours who can support them in getting the essentials they need, there are those who will have to rely on the government distribution programme and other schemes which are actively delivering essentials, food supplies and meals on a large scale.
“This food box initiative is not a blanket delivery programme, but has been created as a responsive service to complement the fantastic work of our Community Hubs in supporting shielded populations on a large scale.
“Our staff are working tirelessly to make sure residents who are most at risk do not run out of the items they need during this uncertain time.”