An initiative which was set up between Stoke on Trent City and voluntary sector partner VAST to support vulnerable people-  #StokeonTrentTogether – has been extended to provide support seven days a week between 9am to 5pm.

Redeployed libraries staff will be making proactive calls to vulnerable residents and offering support with accessing help with shopping, prescriptions, loneliness or dog walking. Teams are also referring people for income and debt advice if they express concerns with this.

Residents can access the #StokeonTrentTogether helpline – 0800 561 5610 – or visit www.corona19.vast.org.uk if they are in need of help. Residents are also encouraged to contact the service if they would like to volunteer their time to give support or give donations.

Earlier this year, the campaign made over 100,000 proactive welfare calls to city residents, provided 4,745 requests for food parcels, received 1,886 requests for prescription collections and made 112 referrals for support services for people experiencing loneliness.

Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Cases of coronavirus continue to rise across the city and we need to make sure that people are able to abide by the guidance to lockdown. We’ve taken the decision to extend the service so we can help people whatever day of the week to make sure they can do this. We want to do all we can to help drive down this deadly disease in the city and people knowing they can count on #StokeonTrentTogether when they need to is a vital part in our battle to protect loved ones and stop the spread of Covid-19 in the city.”

Chief Executive of VAST Lisa Healing: “As we enter a second period of lockdown Stoke-on-Trent Together is still there to provide the support needed to both the most vulnerable people in our community and also to the many charities and community groups that support them.  If you or someone you know finds themselves in difficulty please get in touch or, if you have time to spare, visit the website and register to volunteer.”

Tracing for residents in the city is set to be further strengthened by Stoke-on-Trent City Council is working in partnership with Public Health England and extending the service to seven days a week reaching residents across the city that have tested positive for coronavirus. The service was set up to support national contact tracing. Residents who have had a positive test and need to self-isolate, but who the national service has been unable to reach within 24 hours are passed to the city council to contact using local knowledge and information. Teams call residents and tell them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus. Currently the national service is only able to contact around 60 per cent of those who have had a positive test.

Strengthening the service with more trained staff and longer opening hours will mean more public health data can be accessed quicker and a tailored local service can be offered to more residents in the city.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing said: “I am really pleased that we’ve been able to extend our local contract tracing service to seven days a week to help in the ongoing effort to trace residents with positive test results, so they can self-isolate as soon as possible. This is a vital tool in stopping the spread of the virus. Through the contact tracing service, we will also ensure support services such as #StokeonTrentTogether are signposted to residents while self-isolating, something we know is vital for our more vulnerable residents.”

In an approach similar to the national lockdown earlier in the year, council staff working in services that have closed or reduced are being redeployed to ensure other services important to residents continue to run. Leisure staff have been trained to support the local contact service and will be supporting the initiative.

Councillor Brown said: “Our teams have already been making proactive wellbeing calls throughout the pandemic, providing residents with a local voice and listening to any concerns those who have tested positive have. Local contact tracing services are being used by other local authorities and results have showed people responded more readily to calls when a local team got in touched. This service is even more imperative at this crucial time for the city. Our council leisure team, supported by colleagues from Public Health, have local knowledge and are used to contacting and talking to local people. We are hopeful this will also be the case for Stoke-on-Trent.”

Testing sites in Stoke-on-Trent are available at: Stoke City FC South Car Park- drive through, Fenton Manor Car Park- walk through. Bookings can be made via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or ringing 119, where help is available in other languages. If not successful through the national booking, people can book for a community test 48 hours in advance on a rolling basis if they are showing coronavirus symptoms via www.stoke.gov.uk.

**Read more Local News and Information here.

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