Latest Brief from the Chief: COVID-19 Update - 19 May
Tue, 19 May 2020

Dear colleagues,

Thank you to every one of the nearly 600 people who took part in the first virtual Meet the Chief roadshow yesterday and for the 100 or so staff who asked questions during the event.

It was a fantastic digital turn-out and I hope everyone who tuned in found the event useful.

It was very much a pilot but I thought it worked very well, judging by the feedback I've received and the volume of questions sent in during the event.

I'm sorry we weren't able to cover all the questions in the hour that we had but we are going through everything which was submitted and will aim to respond through follow-up articles and in the next event, which is at 3pm tomorrow. I look forward to joining you again then.

The implementation of Microsoft Teams has enabled video conferencing and live questions and answers events like this to take place and I'm keen to explore how else we can make use of this software and other technology to keep evolving the council as an organisation.

Another aspect of the council's embracing of digital communication tools has been the brilliant use of videos on social media to promote the council's range of activities in support of local residents, businesses and communities.

The latest video tells the story of the East Riding Community Response Hub, recognising the efforts of our staff, our partners and community and voluntary groups and showcasing some of the feedback we've received from grateful residents and relatives of people we have helped.

I recommend you watch the video as it's a fitting tribute to everyone involved and captures the ethos of the community response we are part of.

You can watch The Hub Story video here and read an accompanying story book here.  

A shorter version of the video is being produced to share with the public via the council's corporate social media channels.

The Community Response Hub recently started making outbound calls to residents who we have reason to believe might benefit from the services offered by the hub. 

This initiative is certainly proving worthwhile, with many people being appreciative of the calls and many tasks being actioned as a result.

As of last Friday, we had made nearly 9,000 calls to residents across the East Riding.

It's useful that you are all aware of this activity so that you can help to reassure any residents - whether through your work or your personal networks - that it is a council-related project, in case any residents are concerned about its authenticity.

Outbound calls are being made to residents who are aged 69 or over and people on the NHS Shielded List, to check whether they are in need of any assistance, for example food or medication collections.

If residents fail to answer the call on two separate days the customer's details are referred through to the HEY Smile Foundation, whose team of volunteers will then conduct a follow-up visit to the property to check the resident is safe and not in need of help.

All volunteers either have council-validated ID or a letter confirming they are acting on the council's behalf.

The people we telephone are very appreciative of the calls, even if they don't need help from us. Sometimes they just want to chat so a number of the conversations are helping their mental wellbeing in these difficult times.

We have also had some funny requests. Yesterday, one lady wanted us to bring her some sunshine and another wanted a 6ft bronzed gardener! 

It's good to know that we are able to help our residents in so many ways through the hub, whether by delivering food and medication or being someone on the end of the phone to talk to. I'm hoping we didn't help with the 6ft bronzed gardener request!

One of the main topics of questions in the Meet the Chief event yesterday was schools, with many staff being parents and of course many colleagues working in education.

The Government has confirmed schools may be allowed to open to some year groups from 1 June at the earliest. This is subject to five key tests set by Government being met and a continued reduction in the R rate of infection.

Schools in the East Riding remain closed to the majority of pupils but the council is working with headteacher representatives and trade unions to plan for how a safe and co-ordinated return to school can be achieved for some pupils - when the time is right and in line with Government guidance.

The council and headteacher representatives have produced a suite of documents which have been sent to schools. These documents include: an East Riding Guide for schools on a range of Coronavirus issues; an East Riding Model Recovery Framework - designed to support schools in their thinking about how to implement a return; and the East Riding Plan for a Coordinated, Phased Return for Primary Pupils.

At the heart of this plan is the key priority of managing the return of pupils in a safe way to benefit staff, pupils and families.

In the meantime, schools will continue to operate to provide childcare for a limited number of children whose parents or carers are critical key workers, children with an Education Health Care Plan who cannot be safely cared for at home and vulnerable children with an assigned social worker.

The council, headteacher representatives and trade unions will remain in regular dialogue to ensure that Government direction is able to be implemented in a safe and considered way as our priority will continue to be the health, wellbeing and safety of staff, children and their families.

I've talked a lot in these columns about the importance of keeping mentally and physically well while we deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The support we are providing residents through the Community Response Hub and the outbound calls is just one element of many ways in which the council is supporting people's physical and mental health during the COVID-19 crisis.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and our public health team has partnered with local mental health charity Hull and East Yorkshire Mind to launch a new campaign.

The #StayWell campaign is aimed at helping local people stay mentally well during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides practical tools and tips to better manage or improve mental health, on topics such as stress, sleep and anxiety, as well as working from home and physical activity.

The campaign's message to anyone who is stressed, worried or anxious at the moment is: it's ok to feel like this, support is available and don't be afraid to ask for help.

The council's social media accounts are promoting the #StayWell campaign and you can also follow @MindHEY on Facebook and Twitter.

Anyone struggling with their mental health can get information or advice by emailing info@heymind.org.uk or telephoning (01482) 240133. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For young people in particular, the council is supporting an online resource, which is also endorsed by the NHS, called Kooth. It is a free, safe and anonymous online tool for young people who might be feeling anxious, stressed or worried and has support available at www.kooth.com

Finally, I mentioned in the last Brief from the Chief our librarians' curation of Feel Good and Wellbeing collections of eBooks and eAudiobooks available on Borrowbox and RB Digital. This is just one example of how our Culture & Customer Services (C&CS) teams continue to expand their range of resources and activities to support residents' and employees' health and wellbeing.

With our leisure facilities closed at the moment, C&CS managers and staff are doing a fantastic job of finding new ways to keep people physically and mentally fit and well.

This includes the launch of the Active East Riding website and all of its brilliant activities, from Premier Workouts led by East Riding Leisure instructors via YouTube to the fascinating work of the Archives team in exploring and sharing the East Riding's past.

This week, East Riding Museums is celebrating Creativity and Wellbeing Week, an annual celebration of the health and wellbeing benefits of being creative, until Sunday (24 May).

Museums are sharing information on some of their objects and encouraging people to get creative on the theme of 'Lost and Found'.

You can find out more information on the new East Riding Museums social media accounts at www.facebook.com/EastRidingMuseums and @ERMuseums on Twitter.

East Riding Museums are also encouraging people to stay well using 'Five Ways to Wellbeing'.

There is more information and a wide range of other resources and activities to support your mental and physical health at www.ActiveEastRiding.co.uk so please do take the time to visit the website and see how it can help you keep well in mind and body.



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