The Covid-19 vaccine rollout continues at pace across Croydon, in our hospital, in care homes and among priority groups right across our community, thanks to the sterling efforts of our local NHS. Our public health team are working with the NHS to ensure everyone in Croydon can access accurate information about the vaccine and answer any questions you may have. We will be doing more in the coming weeks and in the meantime, you can find out more about the Covid-19 vaccine on the NHS webpage
Many people have said to me that Covid-19 feels ‘closer to home’ this time, with more people they know becoming infected or seriously unwell. As case numbers continue to rise we are inevitably seeing the impact on public services, many of whom are operating in incredibly challenging circumstances with a reduced workforce due to staff being unwell or self-isolating. This is no less the case for our own staff and contractors who are also being increasingly affected. I want to thank and acknowledge all our essential workers who are on the frontline during this pandemic, providing vital services so that we can stay at home. Our own garden waste service is now back up and running, after we temporarily suspended it to prioritise rubbish and food collections while several crew members were unwell. I’m pleased to report that we are now starting to welcome some of them back to work – my thoughts are with all of them and everyone in our borough who is unwell or recovering.
The latest data confirms that the virus is now widespread throughout Croydon, with our incidence rate now 1080 per 100,000 compared with 305 just four weeks ago. This is a very stark reminder of why we must all stay at home and do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The vaccine programme is under way, but we still have a very long way to go before we can let our guard down. We continue to be required to stay at home and only go out in a restricted set of circumstances.
If you must go out for essential reasons, stay safe particularly in busy spaces including in supermarkets and other essential shops. Always remember hands, face, space to protect yourselves and others. We are once again seeing many people enjoying our parks and open spaces for their daily exercise but please do so safely – don’t meet others to socialise and keep your distance from anyone outside your household or support bubble if you are eligible to form one. Staying at home isn’t easy, particularly during the winter months so please seek help if you feel you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing – there are online resources and local services that can support you. Find out more on our Covid-19 webpages.
Testing if you have symptoms remains an important part of our defence against the virus. We are working with the government to boost testing capacity in Croydon and I hope to be able to update you on this soon. In the meantime, please get tested if you have any of the main Covid-19 symptoms – this is vital for us to isolate cases and prevent the virus spreading.
We know how difficult it is for our local businesses at the moment, and we are working hard to support them. We’ve simplified the process for those who have been impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, to apply for government grants – find out more about the support available here. To get all the latest information about business grants and other help and support, sign up to our business e-newsletter
Finally, we have seen some worrying national reports this week about the poor quality of food packages being supplied elsewhere in the country to children who are eligible for free school meals. I want to reassure you that the safety and wellbeing of children and families, particularly our most vulnerable, is our priority and we are working closely with schools to ensure those in need can access food, help and support during lockdown.
The government voucher scheme for families in receipt of free school meals will relaunch on 18 January and schools will have the option to provide vouchers or food parcels through their catering contracts. Where schools provide food parcels, we have provided them with guidance to help ensure items are of sufficient quality, however, if you have any queries about free school meals you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a good weekend, and stay safe and well.
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council