In recent weeks, as we respond to the impact of Coronavirus, we have all had to make significant changes to the way we live our lives. I want to thank the residents of East Ayrshire for your patience and understanding, as we have made changes to our services and for observing guidance on social distancing and social isolation.
As I write this update, the UK and Scottish Governments have announced that the current social distancing or ‘lockdown’ measures, are to be extended for at least a further three weeks, with the evidence to date showing that, by staying at home and adhering to the rules, together we are helping to slow the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
As an employer, we are supporting as many of our employees as possible to work from home. However, many of our essential services cannot be performed remotely. We have had to adapt the way we work, changing the way we deliver some services and making difficult decisions in respect of standing down others. In all that we do, we are ensuring that our employees have the correct Personal Protective Equipment. No employee will be asked to undertake tasks unless they have the correct protection to do so. We have worked closely with Trade Union colleagues to agree guidance and to give much needed reassurance and support in this area.
On behalf of our Council, I want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all of the key workers and volunteers who are continuing to provide essential services in our communities. This includes carers, NHS staff, refuse collectors, teachers, police and fire officers, supermarket staff, postal workers, delivery drivers and all the other selfless workers and volunteers, working to keep us safe. Like many of you, at 8pm on a Thursday night, I join our communities in applauding the work of our NHS, carers and other key workers.
Our communities will always be at the heart of everything we do and each day we see their vibrancy shine through in the kindness and compassion that people have for each other. We now have 100 community resilience groups and over 500 volunteers helping and supporting others in their local community. Support and financial assistance is being provided to help these groups play their part in protecting communities.
Significant work has been taking place to ensure that those people who have serious health conditions are ‘shielded’ from the virus over the next 12 weeks. Individuals who are affected by ‘shielding’ may need to rely significantly on family and friends or make use of food and pharmacy deliveries. Where this is not possible, we will be reaching out to people to ensure that they are able to draw on support from our Vibrant Communities team and their local communities. Together with colleagues in Health and Social Care, we will ensure we wrap the best support and care possible around these individuals.
For some people, we know that home may not be a safe place right now. Please know that help will always be available to those at risk of harm or abuse, so if you are worried about someone who may be at risk, or is being neglected or harmed, please tell us. Information about the assistance available and important contacts can be accessed here.
I know that the current situation is creating financial hardship for many individuals, families and businesses. If you have been affected, please seek out help at the earliest possible opportunity and we will do everything we can to support you. Our web pages provide dedicated information on the support available for individuals, businesses and communities, along with details of our service alterations.
The most important thing we can all do is to continue to follow the advice and guidance from the Government and together we will slow the spread of the virus, keep people safe and save lives.