Voluntary and community groups across the city are already benefiting from more than £500,000 of funding to help them provide crucial services to residents through the coronavirus, with more to follow.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has moved quickly to administer £556,552 in funding to the sector in government grants and its own community fund, in response to the pandemic.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We have a fantastic network of voluntary and community groups across the city who do a tremendous amount of good to support vulnerable people and residents in most need. We have worked hard and at pace to ensure that all funding that is available to the sector is administered as swiftly as possible. It is my pledge to all voluntary and community groups that we will continue to do this, and where there are opportunities to apply to us for funding, these will continue to be made available quickly and simply.”
The £556,552 figure includes £150,000 in community grants from the authority, which is set to be boosted by a further £50,000 in grants available in the new year, £137,000 for VAST to provide support services for those in need, more than £60,000 for foodbanks, £55,000 to Beat the Cold to help people out of fuel poverty and more than £33,000 to the Hubb Foundation for their work to combat holiday hunger and support families in preparing sustainable meals and £19,000 in grants from DEFRA for food and essential supplies.
Councillor Brown added: “We announced we had received £1.083m from the government’s Covid-19 winter grant fund, and some of this money is already going to Beat the Cold and the Hubb Foundation. But the vast majority of the money will go to provide funding for 18,460 children to have meals during the Christmas and February holidays. We will also shortly be announcing the first successful bids in the latest wave of our community investment fund – a fund that has already seen hundreds of groups benefit from millions of pounds of funding.”
The council’s director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, has written to 409 supermarkets across the city over the past week to ask for their continued support in making sure customers and staff know all of the coronavirus public health guidelines and to follow them.
The national health guidance for retail stores gives clear advice on: Use of QR codes, Social distancing in queues and for trolleys, Provision of hand sanitiser, Provide cleaning materials for trolleys and stopping use of £1 coins for trolleys, Keeping aisles clear to allow adequate distancing, Good use of signage, Use of electronic payment wherever possible, Control of numbers in store
Stores and shops must encourage customers to comply with the law and wear face coverings. If not followed, fines of £400 can be given out by Staffordshire Police.
Dr Edmondson-Jones said: “The vast majority of stores are doing a fantastic job and we thank them for this. But we know that some have been struggling, and particularly as people are now continuing to do their Christmas shopping. Since the start of lockdown in March, we have received 248 complaints to our public protection team about retail premises in the city with over half received in the last four weeks while we’ve been in the second national lockdown. The main complaint areas are face coverings not being worn in store and social distancing measures not being adhered to. Many people comment that stores do not seem to take things as seriously as they did during the first national lockdown. In the letter we have given contact information for our public protection team should any premises need advice or have questions about the guidelines. Our teams are here to help. They can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
For latest health advice on the coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, and for further information on the virus visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.
For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.