COVID-19: please support our local charities

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

I want to thank everyone in Southwark who is doing so much to help slow the spread of COVID-19. During these extremely difficult times the response of the Southwark community has been extraordinary.

We’ve been in lockdown since 24 March and yesterday the government announced that the end is not yet in sight and lockdown will continue for at least three more weeks. Whilst this doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given the tragic news we are hearing about hundreds of deaths each day, I know how difficult this is for everyone. We are all feeling the impact of spending most of our time at home, but there are signs that lockdown is working by slowing the spread of the disease and so it’s really important that we all keep following the rules by staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

Sadly, not everyone is safe in their own home, and it’s really important we make sure that anyone who experiences abuse at home knows there is support available, and that they do not have to stay at home with an abuser. There is information below for anyone experiencing, or concerned about, domestic abuse.

Supporting our local charities

I want to pay tribute to the many fantastic local charities in Southwark who are doing so much to support the local response in Southwark. Their work – in extremely challenging circumstances – to support vulnerable residents in our borough, has been absolutely vital in the borough-wide response.

We are working with United St Saviours to raise additional funds for local charities to help them to continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. This will, alongside the additional community grants that the council is offering, help to fund the extra work our wonderful charities are doing to support our communities.

If you’re able to, please donate to the Crowdfunder now.

In this newsletter you will find information about council services and support available to residents and businesses. This includes our latest announcement of a £2-million hardship fund for businesses. You can also check our website for regular updates.

Than you for your ongoing support,

Cllr Peter John


Do you know a vulnerable resident who needs help?

If you know of a vulnerable Southwark resident who can’t leave the house due to coronavirus (COVID-19), and who may not have friends, family or neighbours who can help with the delivery of essential supplies, please tell us straight away so we can help them.


Are you worried about domestic abuse?

If you or someone you know is suffering from Domestic Abuse, isolation rules do not apply. Police response and support services remain available. Nationally, there is advice and support available but you should call 999 if you are in immediate danger. Locally, the Solace Advocacy and Support Service is also available to women and men in Southwark aged 16 or over in Southwark.


COVID-19: please stay at home this weekend

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

Normally, many of us would be looking forward to going outside over the bank holiday weekend to enjoy some sunshine. However, this weekend is different.

It is more vital than ever that we stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives.

This means we must not go out to meet up with friends and family. Parks and other outdoor spaces – including outdoor areas on estates – must only be used once a day for daily exercise, by yourself or with your household members. You must stay two metres away from others.

Many of our residents have no outdoor space. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, please ask yourself whether you need to leave your home this weekend. The fewer people who use our parks, the easier it is for those who need to use them, to do so safely.

This weekend is also an important weekend for many in our faith communities. I am thankful to our faith organisations in Southwark, who are playing a key role in supporting our vulnerable residents and also finding new virtual ways to hold prayers and services, so that their congregations can abide by government rules banning large gatherings.

Every day the council is delivering food to vulnerable people across the borough. Alongside the essentials, the food parcels this week will have a Fairtrade chocolate egg included, secured by the council at below cost price from local Fairtrade company, Divine Chocolate. It’s important to recognise that we can still do little things which can make people smile, brighten their day or uplift them in such difficult times. We hope this will give residents some cheer while they are missing their families and friends at this time of year.

In this newsletter you will find some key updates about council services You can also check our website for updates at www.southwark.gov.uk/covidsupport.

I know that for many of you, this will be a strange and at times lonely Easter, as you miss the family and friends you would normally see at this time of year. These are indeed extraordinary times. But the scenes coming out of hospital intensive care units, the deaths of thousands of much-loved UK residents, and the news about the Prime Minister this week show us just how deadly this disease is, and how important it is that we take the rules seriously.

I wish you all the very best and thank you again for playing your part in keeping Southwark safe.

Cllr Peter John


Do you know a vulnerable resident who needs help?

If you know of a vulnerable Southwark resident who can’t leave the house due to coronavirus (COVID-19), and who may not have friends, family or neighbours who can help with the delivery of essential supplies, please tell us straight away so we can help them.


Grants for community groups

We’re providing grants to local charities and community groups that are supporting residents in Southwark in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The deadline for applications for the first round of grants is 13 April, but there will be three more funding rounds after that.


Important update about COVID-19 (3 April)

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to keeping us all safe by staying at home and keeping your distance. Under normal circumstances we would all be looking forward to a sunny weekend outside, but this weekend it remains vital for us all to keep following the rules about staying at home and social distancing.

If you go to one of Southwark’s parks this weekend for your daily exercise and to enjoy some fresh air, please make sure you:

  • only go by yourself or with members of your household
  • keep at least two metres away from anyone else
  • don’t meet up with friends or family members who you don’t live with
  • only go out for exercise once a day.

Thank you to everyone in Southwark who is doing everything they can to help stop the spread of COVID-19. By following the rules we are protecting the NHS and saving lives.

In this newsletter you will find some key updates about council services. You can also check our website for updates at www.southwark.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Cllr Peter John


Do you know a vulnerable resident who needs help?

If you know of a vulnerable Southwark resident who can’t leave the house due to coronavirus (COVID-19), and who may not have friends, family or neighbours who can help with the delivery of essential supplies, please tell us straight away so we can help them.


Waste and recycling collections

COVID-19: an update for residents (1 April)

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

Thank you to everyone in Southwark who is staying at home to help protect the NHS and to save lives. It is making a real difference.

We must all do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home and staying away from other people. This means we must only go out to:

  • shop for food and necessities
  • fulfil a medical need
  • exercise once a day
  • travel to and from work if absolutely necessary.

This week we are sending the first food parcels out to extremely vulnerable residents in Southwark, including those that are part of the ‘shielding’ programme. We are staying in close contact with these residents to make sure they have the food, essential supplies, medicines and social contact they need.

I know that it is not only vulnerable residents who are worried about their finances during this unprecedented time. That’s why the council is making sure we provide advice and support for people who are temporarily struggling with lower incomes. Please see below for the support available.

As well as supporting residents we are also committed to supporting our fantastic local businesses. I am delighted that we have already distributed over £15m in grants to Southwark-based businesses that are struggling as a result of COVID-19, and we are due to distribute another £45m this week.

I continue to be immensely proud of Southwark Council staff who are working so hard to keep key services running and to support our most vulnerable residents.

In this newsletter you will find information about council services and support available to residents and businesses. You can also check our website for regular updates at www.southwark.gov.uk/coronavirus

Thank you for your ongoing support,

Cllr Peter John


Financial support for residents

We know that COVID-19 has increased financial pressure and concerns for many residents. We have created a dedicated webpage that details financial support that is available and will be updated regularly. The page currently includes:

  • information on claiming universal credit
  • how to get help if you’re struggling with rent payments
  • how to get help if you’re struggling with a payment owed to the council, including council tax
  • help if you’re struggling with your household’s urgent, basic needs
  • confirmation that all our debt collection activities have been paused
  • help if you you’re a council homeowner and struggling to pay a leaseholder payment.

Read more about the financial support available.


Financial support for businesses

Further Covid advice and information for TRAs and residents

Dear TRA committee member

I hope this finds you well and safe.

Thank you for your continued efforts to help your local community at this difficult time.

If you need detailed information on what the council is doing and support available please visit www.southwark.gov.uk/coronavirus the pages are updated regularly.

The Letter to residents March 2020 is being posted to all residents in the coming days as the council realises that not everyone has access to information on line. I hope you find it helpful.

Kind regards

Michael Scorer, Strategic Director of Housing and Modernisation

COVID-19: an update for residents (26 March)

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

As I’m sure you are aware, the UK has been on ‘lockdown’ since midnight on Monday. While I know this creates many challenges for everyone in their everyday lives, it is absolutely vital that we all follow government guidance on this in order to save lives and protect the NHS.

This means we must only leave our homes for one of four reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with a member of your household only
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where you absolutely cannot work from home.

We have made good and quick progress on developing our new community hub that will support vulnerable residents, and especially those who the NHS has identified as needing to take extra care (known as the shielding programme). Our priority will be to work with voluntary and community groups to help those who are unable to rely on friends and family. We will make sure they receive the food, essential supplies, medicines and social contact they need. You can find out more at www.southwark.gov.uk/covidsupport

I want to pay tribute to the many hardworking and dedicated Southwark Council staff who are working to keep vital services going in order to protect our most vulnerable residents. We are ensuring these critical services are adequately resourced whilst closing down some areas of the council’s normal work which cannot carry on under the current conditions.

I would ask for your continued patience and understanding as we work through the changes we need to make to our services to redirect staff to key services like adult social care. We will keep you updated about these changes through these newsletters, our website, and other communications.

In this newsletter you will find some key information about council services and support available to residents and businesses. You can also check our website for regular updates at www.southwark.gov.uk/coronavirus


Financial support for residents

  • We are taking action locally to provide financial protection to those in our communities who are most in need. We have supplemented our Southwark emergency support scheme (SESS) budget of £650k per year with an additional emergency fund of £1.5m.
  • We have suspended all debt recovery actions related to council tax and business rates and are looking at how we can help residents who are struggling financially.
  • We also have information and support if you’re struggling with rent payments.

Financial support for businesses

COVID-19: stay at home and stay safe

Cllr Peter John OBE

Please stay at home

Every one of our residents is important to us. You are important to us. But many residents are ignoring national advice and going out when we should all be staying at home as much as we can. This puts us all at risk of COVID-19, especially people who are over 70 or who suffer from ill-health.

We know this is a worrying time, especially if you live alone, and we really want to help. There are lots of volunteers in our communities who want to help too. So instead of going out, please think about other ways to do things. For example:

  • Call or video call a friend
  • Ask a friend or neighbour to leave some shopping outside your door
  • Order an online shop if you can
  • When you are shopping please only buy what you need

Find support or advice by visiting www.southwark.gov.uk/covidsupport

If you are sharing information with a resident who is not online, and they need support, they should call 020 7525 5000. Our phone lines are extremely busy so please only call us if you aren’t able to get the help you need online.


Stay well

  • The best way to avoid catching COVID-19 is to wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue and wash your hands or use an alcohol-based sanitiser gel.
  • Keep your distance from other people – at least 2 metres wherever possible
  • If you have a new persistent cough or a high temperature, you must self-isolate (stay home and away from other people) for 7 days. If someone in your home has symptoms you should self-isolate for 14 days.

And remember, if you are very unwell or have symptoms that last longer than 7 days visit www.111.nhs.uk, call NHS on 111, or your local GP.

GovDelivery logo

Coronavirus – Advice and Information to TRAs

Dear TRA members

We hope this finds you well and safe. We have been contacted by many of you asking for advice on how you can best support your local community and with other queries about the impact of the current situation on TRAs. It is great to see local communities coming together to help those in need and we thought it would be helpful to send the below FAQ to give some reassurance that the council will do all it can to support TRAs at this difficult time.

How can TRAs best support their residents?

The council values and appreciates the willingness of TRA members wishing to help their neighbours. TRA committees wishing to coordinate support activity must ensure they don’t bring people together in meetings face-to-face. Please be mindful of the government’s advice on social distancing and hold such meetings virtually via chat groups or video calling.

  • If you feel at all unwell, do not volunteer
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before and after you deliver any items
  • Try to support people who live close to you so you don’t travel longer distances
  • If you make a delivery, stay 2 meters away from the person who is in isolation at all times. Place the items outside their door and then step away
  • Be careful about how you share personal information about yourself and other people
  • Be careful about taking money and how many people may be more vulnerable to fraud at this time

We are aware that self isolation will present different issues for different people and it is important that people get the right help and support to get them through this difficult time as quickly as safely as possible. Please refer anyone you come across with the following issues, to the relevant support services

  • Financial hardship and help with benefit applications, call020 7525 2434
  • Concerns aboutRent payments
  • Serious health issues – residents should be advised to contact NHS 111 or their local GP
  • Support for those who are homeless. If you are aware of anyone sleeping rough please let the council know viaStreetlink. Our council funded outreach team will visit people where they are and find them a safe place

Can we continue to utilise our TRA hall facilities?

Given that many of those using TRA halls can be vulnerable or older we are advising all TRAs to close down their TRA halls and cancel existing bookings in order to follow government’s latest advice on social distancing and minimising non essential contact.

The council may contact TRA halls key holders if the space is required by the council or its partners in order to deliver services locally. Please ensure you let Ian Brinley know the up to date details of all key holders by calling him on 07943721674. If you are already planning to use your TRA hall for support activities such as to distribute food and / or donations for vulnerable residents please speak to Ian Brinley first and let us know what you are doing. This is to ensure a coordinated response and safety and welfare of volunteers. It is important that if you are doing this that you follow the advice that is elsewhere in this message on social distancing, making deliveries safely, not sharing personal data and avoidance of cash handling.

There should not be face to face meetings in these spaces, this should be done using group chats and conference calling instead. Please provide any social contact for those in need by phone and not face to face.

The council will be setting up web pages in the next few days on food provision and we will be sharing this information with TRAs once set up.

How will the TRA apply for this year’s grant if we are unable to hold our AGM?

The council will contact TRAs which were due to have their AGM during this period to ensure they can still apply for and receive their core annual grant.

Will there be special fast tracked grant funding for TRAs to help those in need?

We welcome proposals from TRAs about what support they can provide those in need.

We are worried about the TRA’s loss of income if we cancel our bookings. How will the council help?

The council will look at measures such as rent payment holidays and grants available to those TRAs in financial difficulties due to coronavirus related loss of income

Advice on potential corona-virus related scams.

We have heard reports from the Police that individuals may be taking advantage of the vulnerable by posing as door-to-door Coronavirus testers in order to gain access to people’s properties. Nobody, and specifically neither the NHS nor the Police, are conducting such tests. If anyone attends your property and claims to be conducting such tests please call the Police on 999. Unfortunately, there are some people who will try to cash in on people’s vulnerability at a time when they may be distracted by concerns regarding the coronavirus.

It is worth taking time to make sure you are protecting yourself and your family from those hoping to take advantage of this situation. Fraudsters may well exploit this unprecedented situation to prey on others. They may try to target those assisting vulnerable people or those in self-isolation, sending coronavirus-themed phishing emails in an attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing personal and financial details, or even coming to people’s houses to try and target them in person.

The advice around fraud and cyber-crime has not changed because of this virus. The most important thing to remember is if you are contacted by someone you don’t know, either in person or online exercise caution and if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. If you can’t be sure, check with someone you trust, or the Police.

If someone knocks at your door claiming to be from a company or organisation, first check their ID. If you’re not happy, don’t let them in. Ask the person to wait outside, shut the door and contact the organisation by using a trusted method. If they’re genuine, they’ll understand. The Met has a range of advice on how to protect yourself from fraud, which can be found here:

https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/personal-fraud/

Kind regards.

Larri Alleyne,
Community Premises Assistant.
Communities Division

Housing & Modernisation Department.

(020 7525 5475 / 07535541327 |Larri.Alleyne@southwark.gov.uk

5th Floor, Hub 3, Area D
PO Box 64529
London SE1P 5LX

www.southwark.gov.uk