Flooding and recovery support

We are aware that a number of homes and businesses across Herefordshire have been affected by flooding recently. If you or anyone you know have suffered from flooding in the county, please do let us know where and what happened as this may help us to minimise flooding problems there in the future. In order to report flooding, as well as access other useful resources, please visit www.herefordshire.gov.uk/flooding.

Please be aware that Talk Community support is available for all emergencies, including those affected by flooding. Please encourage those requiring support to contact us on 01432 260027 or at talkcommunityhelpline@herefordshire.gov.uk.

A number of areas regularly impacted by flooding have set up their own flood groups – please get in touch with us at talkcommunityhelpline@herefordshire.gov.uk for more information.

There are things people can do to limit the impact of flooding, including preparing a personal flood plan, sourcing sandbags/flood barriers from local parish councils or builders merchants. More specialised flood prevention advice can be obtained from the National Flood Forum. It may also be useful to check the actual water levels at different locations in the county, as well as sign up to get Flood Warnings from gov.uk by phone, email or text message.

This can be a very anxious and stressful time compounded by the difficult position with Covid-19 therefore if you know of someone affected that could do with support Herefordshire and Worcestershire Healthy Minds service is available to help. This is an NHS service and care is both free at the point of contact and confidential. Herefordshire Healthy Minds, Previously known as Let’s Talk, supports people who are experiencing difficulties such as stress, anxiety, low mood and depression. In order to access the service, people must be 18 or over and registered with a GP in Herefordshire. People can self-refer by contacting 01432 347606 or completing the online self-referral form.

In addition please visit the flooding section on the WISH website

Keep Herefordshire Warm

Keep Herefordshire Warm is Herefordshire Council’s home energy advice service. By providing a freephone advice line, dedicated home energy advisors and grant funding for eligible homes, Keep Herefordshire Warm supports households to use less energy, lower their bills and make energy-saving improvements to their properties.

Homes relying on electric heating may be eligible for free first-time central heating, grants are available for insulation and support for when your boiler needs repairing or replacing. Warm, affordable homes are vital to health and quality of life – and Keep Herefordshire Warm is here to help make the winter months more comfortable.

Call our friendly advisors for free on 0800 677 1432, or visit keepherefordshirewarm.co.uk.

Early Help Hub

Herefordshire Council’s Early Help Hub offers a confidential support service to Herefordshire families with children aged 0 to 19 years.

The Early Help team can provide families and professionals (working with families) with advice and guidance to support them through the difficult times and help them to get back on track.

Difficulties could include:

  • Family relationships
  • Challenging behaviours
  • Domestic abuse
  • Housing issues
  • Struggling with finances
  • Emotional and mental health
  • Safety in the community
  • Substance abuse

The Early Help Hub team are available on 01432 260261 (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday, closed on bank holidays) or email earlyhelpcontacts@herefordshire.gov.uk

To find out more about the Early Help service visit: www.herefordshire.gov.uk/earlyhelp

For information about local support services for families, visit the WISH website www.wisherefordshire.org

Support local people by ‘Virtual Volunteering’

A local charity Onside has encouraged people to sign up as volunteers and support their project to visit people in residential care and uphold the person’s rights acting in their best interests. A great start to a New Year making difference to local lives.

Onside, which works across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, is looking for people to take on the role of a Relevant Persons Representative (RPR).  Volunteers as an RPR are safeguarding the rights of vulnerable people who don’t have the mental capacity to consent to care or treatment.

This involves visiting people with dementia, learning disabilities, and individuals assessed to have a lack of capacity to consent to living in a residential care. As an RPR the volunteer would be visiting ( currently over video call- Virtual, full training given) a person just once every 4 weeks for no more than 1 hour. Volunteering would be local to where the volunteer lives.

Onside, which works across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, is looking for people to take on the role of a Relevant Persons Representative (RPR). Free RPR training would be given to carry out the role. Onside have the benefit of a specialist Mental Health Capacity Advocacy team to support volunteers along with a dedicated Volunteer Team.

Onside’s Volunteer Manager, Claire Watkins, said “Our volunteers give their time, their passion and enthusiasm, this is a great time to volunteer in this new and exciting role.” “This particular role is very worthwhile and extremely rewarding.”

Volunteers are ordinary people of all ages and backgrounds they just need to be good listeners and have some time to give.

We also have opportunities for all our advocacy projects along with mentoring too.  Please take a look at our website.

If you can picture yourself in the role of an Onside volunteer please call Claire Watkins – Volunteer Manager on 07592 737303 or email  claire.watkins@onside-advocacy.org.uk to find out more. This type of volunteering can be very flexible to fit with your life and circumstances. Free training (throughout the year) is provided and all expenses paid.

Note to Editors: Background on charity:

  • Onside improves the lives of over 5000 vulnerable adults every year in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
  • We provide free services to support adults facing disadvantage through mental and physical ill health, learning disability and old age. Eg. Depression, autism, learning difficulties.
  • Onside employs over 150 people and has150 active volunteers.
  • Onside is a Worcestershire based charity established in 1993 stemming from a belief that everyone has the right to be a valued human being and to be treated in a just and fair manner.

Registered Charity no. 1102022 Onside contact: Claire Watkins 01905 27525 volunteering@onside-advocacy.org.uk Web: www.onside-advocacy.org.uk

Back To School Safely Campaign

Herefordshire Council has launched a ‘Back To School Safely’ campaign for schools, colleges and early years settings, in line with the Government’s national campaign.  The campaign aims to reassure children, families and school staff that safety measures are in place ready for their return.

The government is expecting every child to go back to school in September.  Returning to school is extremely important for all children because education is a fundamental part of their development.

We’re encouraging parents and carers to talk to their child about how school or college will be different in September to help to ease their anxiety.  We’ve created a special Back to school page on our website, which provides information on the safety measures that will be in place in schools, what to do if a child experiences COVID-19 symptoms and details of the support available for children and young people’s mental wellbeing.

Additional information for parents and carers about children returning to school can be viewed on the Government website as part of their #backtoschoolsafely campaign, which will be regularly updated. You can also follow #backtoschoolsafely on social media for the latest updates.

The latest advice on Herefordshire’s school transport can found on our school transport pages.

Courier Fraud – Urgent Information

West Mercia Police have an important message about courier fraud.

Fraudsters are back in action claiming to be from the police, banks and fraud squads in order to extort money from the vulnerable.

There have been a couple of incidents in Hereford where couples in their eighties have been targeted.
One man was conned into withdrawing an amount of cash from his personal bank account after being told his credit cards had been cloned. They then sent out two separate couriers to collect the cash from his home address.

In a second incident they asked for an amount of cash which has been collected by a “courier”. Before the individual was about to send over a much larger amount of cash West Mercia Police officers were able to step in and offer the support needed to the victim and prevent the transaction taking place.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright said: This type of fraud often targets older and more vulnerable people and we would urge everyone to tell someone, by passing on the information about the bogus callers to relatives, friends and neighbours who may not have heard about the local telephone scam in operation.

There are many alias’ that the imposters use but always remember that no police officer from any force or department will ever ask you to hand over money or transfer funds, regardless of their name or unit.

The deception can also be carried out in several ways, such as –
• A phone caller pretending to be a police officer who is investigating unidentified activity/ fraud in their bank account and that they must cooperate with the ‘investigation’.
• The victim is then persuaded to withdraw funds and hand them over to the ‘investigators’, either by some remote means or in person to a courier.
• The victim is told that if the bank cashier queries the large withdrawal that they are to say it is for a large purchase e.g. work/repairs in the home.
• Alternatively the victim may be asked to hand over bank cards, vouchers or other valuable items. They may also be asked to transfer funds to another account, which is controlled by the fraudsters.

These scams can be extremely convincing and manipulative. The fraudsters may give (alleged) crime numbers, investigation details, and job titles. They will always claim that the transaction must be done in secret. The fraudsters condition their victim not to trust bank branch staff, which can make it hard for those staff to help.

These calls are not genuine and payments should not be made. No legitimate bank/building society, police officer, or business will ever phone you to ask you to give them your card, your PIN, or your cash in the way we’ve described above.

Don’t trust anyone who calls you about your bank details. Always hang up and wait 10 minutes to ensure the call has disconnected.

Launch of Discretionary Grant Scheme and ongoing Covid-19 Support

I hope that you, your families, and your employees continue to be safe and in good health.  All of us at the council do understand that these are incredibly difficult times both financially and socially.

Many of you will be aware that the government has now introduced an additional discretionary grants fund that will help provide assistance to some of the businesses that have not had access to other support schemes.

This discretionary grants fund is managed by the council and will award grants reflecting the size of business, level of fixed property costs and scale of impact experienced.  The amount of funding the council has received is limited at £3.2m, consequently the scheme eligibility criteria is limited initially to those categories of businesses that are specified in central government guidance.

Businesses eligible to receive this new funding must be a small or micro business, a charity, or social enterprises with a turnover of not more than £10.2m and fewer than 50 staff.  Applicants must also be either:

  • a small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces;
  • market traders with fixed building costs who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • bed & breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates or;
  • charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief.

Further details, the full eligibility criteria for businesses and how to apply can be found on the Herefordshire Council website at: https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200250/coronavirus/906/herefordshire_coronavirus_discretionary_grant_fund

This scheme is now open and completed applications must be received by midnight on the 28th June 2020.

In distributing this funding we are trying to help as many businesses as possible, while continuing to press government for further funding to support the local economy and help us build back better.  If there is funding remaining in the scheme after the first round we will open the scheme more widely as we recognise that there are still other businesses who have slipped through the cracks of the various central government support.

Other support the council continues to give to businesses includes £52.4m paid out to more than 4,500 businesses in the county (up until 31 May 2020) in government grant funding.

I would like to reiterate that the all the information on the government schemes can be found via the Marches Growth Hub website https://www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk/advice-and-support/coronavirus-information-for-businesses/.

For information regarding local support available from the council, including the roll out of business grants and advice, please visit the council website at https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/coronavirus.  Both these sites are updated regularly and should provide the latest national and local information.

We know that the ongoing situation is placing a considerable level of stress on many impacted businesses and their employees and we recognise that there may be a need to access mental health and wellbeing advice.  Please visit https://www.wisherefordshire.org/mentalhealth for details of the local advice and services.

Additionally there is still a need to adhere to the latest government public health advice, and we would encourage every employer currently still operational to make themselves familiar with this.  Here is a link to the public heath guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

We are aware that the nature of the situation and the balance between reopening your business and protecting both you and your employees is an additional stress and complication.  We also recognise that there is still considerable uncertainty for many businesses in terms of when you may be allowed to reopen and what measures you will have to put in place.

The council are doing our best to help preserve good businesses and assist hard working families.  Wherever possible we will attempt to give you information and guidance that can assist your business.  Our collective future economic success may well depend on how we all react over the next few months.  I continue to wish that you and your families remain in good health and your business remains resilient.

Kind regards,

Cllr Dr Ellie Chowns

Cabinet Member- Environment, Economy & Skills