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Play your part in creating a safer Suffolk

Suffolk residents are being asked to play their part in reducing infection and shopping local as businesses re-open across the county this week (w/c 15 June).

Councils, partners and businesses have been introducing temporary or trial measures to help people shop and stay safe while keeping to national guidelines. Support to make this happen comes from the ‘Safer Places’ group, part of the Suffolk Resilience Forum, which is made up of Suffolk’s NHS, Emergency and Public Services.

The government has announced a phased easing of rules around businesses and other properties opening, starting in June. The Safer Places group is supporting businesses to meet this national guidance, allowing them to trade safely and keep their customers safe.

This has meant shops and businesses introducing new social distancing measures as well as some streets being used in different ways to reduce people getting too close.

Residents are being asked to follow the new measures on streets and businesses to keep the risk of spreading COVID-19 and help Suffolk businesses continue trading.

Through the Safer Places work, Suffolk councils and organisations are working hard to support high streets, by devising new ways to help people pass with the little space there is in existing paths and highways.

To help with this parking enforcement will play a role in making sure people keep streets free so traffic can flow or stop people parking on pavements or areas being used by pedestrians. It is expected that more people will be using car parks and motorists are asked to also play their part and acting responsibly and following measures in place.

David Collinson, the lead for the Safer Places group, said: “The safety of our communities is the most important thing as our high streets and businesses recover. Ultimately, businesses are responsible to ensure the safety of their staff and customers, but through the Safer Places group, we’re doing everything we can to support them and help reduce the risk of infection.

“Everyone has a roll to play in making sure that we all can keep safe and support our local Suffolk businesses. These measures will be constantly reviewed and are completely new for everyone taking part so are likely to change and evolve. Please help by following the measures or having a polite word with a business if you think they can improve.

“Suffolk has successfully slowed the spread of the virus, but we must all stick with it and keep following the guidance.”
 

Previous release I 3 June 2020

A new, colourful way for people across Suffolk to show their appreciation for others, is underway in Suffolk.

Suffolk Says Thanks recognises the small acts of kindness taking place across the county in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is being launched by the Suffolk Resilience Forum, which contains a specific group tasked with looking at emotional wellbeing in the community as a result of the pandemic. 

As a direct result of the current situation, people may be experiencing mental health issues or their emotional wellbeing may be affected. To help with this, the simple act of saying ‘thank you’ is known to have a positive effect on both the person giving thanks, as well as the person receiving it.

Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health Suffolk, said: “Coronavirus has changed our way of life in so many ways and, as a consequence, more people’s mental health is likely to be affected.
“Suffolk residents have a huge range of mental health support available to them, and there is always someone available to talk to, 24/7. But sometimes, a simple ‘thank you’ is enough to make someone’s day and can be a small boost that they need.

“Suffolk Says Thanks builds on the appreciation that we as a nation have been showing to key workers and NHS staff – not least by clapping to show our appreciation every Thursday evening.

“So as clap for carers draws to a close, let’s say ‘thank you’ across Suffolk: the neighbour or volunteer who has put out your bins, the friend who collects your shopping or the person on your street that waves every morning as they pass by your house.”

Posters, cards and other colourful materials can be downloaded from www.suffolksaysthanks.com to provide inspiration for saying thank you in different ways. People are then invited to share their messages with others through the website and on social media using the hashtag #suffolksaysthanks. 

Suffolk Says Thanks will also recognise those with the willpower to stick with it and do the right thing for themselves, their family and friends. Even as lockdown measures are gradually eased, the spread of coronavirus will only continue to slow if we keep on staying at home, washing hands and social distancing. 

Gemma Levi, chair of Suffolk Resilience Forum’s Emotional Wellbeing in the Community group, said: “As a nation we’ve been great at thanking others and seen the positive impact it’s had on our key workers and in the streets. We now want to acknowledge the small acts of kindness and Suffolk Says Thanks gives people the materials and inspiration to thank those in their local community.

“We would like people to post their ‘thank yous’ as photos and videos on social media, to download materials to colour in and display in windows, or even print out one of the template letters to pop through someone’s door.

“Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that demonstrating an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.

“The act of giving is one of the ‘five ways to wellbeing’, which is an established framework setting out simple steps for improving day to day mental health.”

If you are experiencing something that makes you feel unsafe, distressed or worried about your mental health you can now call the FirstResponse service on 0808 196 3494. This phoneline is provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides immediate advice, support and signposting.
 

Previous release I 28 May 2020

Businesses, towns and spaces in Suffolk are getting extra help to make them safer and reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading as lockdown measures are eased.

Support to make this happen comes from the ‘Safer Places’ group, part of the Suffolk Resilience Forum, which is made up of Suffolk’s NHS, Emergency and Public Services.

The Government has announced a phased easing of rules around businesses and other properties opening, starting in June. The group is supporting businesses to meet this national guidance, allowing them to trade safely and keep their customers safe.

As well as the retail sector, councils and public services are looking at their own areas and facilities in readiness for changes in national guidelines, such as car parks. The Safer Places group will also be engaging with local organisations, communities and councillors and organisations to look at tailored solutions for their particular areas. Measures are likely to evolve as guidance changes or improvements are made.

David Collinson, the lead for the Safer Places group, said:

“The safety of our communities is the most important thing as our high streets and businesses recover.

“Ultimately, businesses are responsible to ensure the safety of their staff and customers, but through the Safer Places group, we’re doing everything we can to support them and help reduce the risk of infection.

“While, the most effective way to slow the spread of the virus, is to stay at home, we understand that people will want to visit the high street and parks, so we are supporting businesses and authorities to make these places as safe as possible.

“Everyone has a role to play in keeping each other safe. We can do this by continuing to follow the government’s instructions, such as keeping 2 metres apart from others, regularly washing our hands and limiting our use of public transport - think ahead about your hygiene.

“Suffolk has successfully slowed the spread of the virus, but we must all stick with it and keep following the guidance.”

An example of safer spaces being created, are those planned for our highways. To ensure appropriate safety measures can be put in place for communities across Suffolk, the county council, with partners has developed guidance and advice on how safe, social distancing measures can be maintained on the highway.

This includes empowering local councils and the business community to make small-scale temporary changes to enable safe, social distancing, without the need to seek consent from Suffolk County Council.

Where there is a requirement or desire for larger, more detailed changes to be made in the community, these will need to be discussed with county council.

Any of the temporary changes made during this time will be kept under review and the county council will continue to work with its partners to adapt to government guidance and review what support is needed to help the local economy.

Previous release | 15 May 2020

Suffolk people are being asked to continue their great efforts, which are successfully reducing the spread of COVID-19.

'Stick With It Suffolk' is a campaign launching on Monday 18 May 2020, highlighting what we must all continue doing, to keep each other safe and to defeat the virus.

Recent data* shows that around 1 in 600 people in Suffolk have tested positive for COVID-19, which compares favourably to Norfolk, Essex and the national average.

However, we are not out of the woods yet. The number is continuing to rise, although more slowly, which is why it is crucial that people keep following the instructions. These are:
•    Keep staying at home  
•    Keep working from home where you can 
•    Keep 2 metres apart if you go out 
•    Keep exercising safely 
•    Keep washing your hands with soap and water 
•    Keep self-isolating if you or anyone in your household has symptoms 
•    Keep travelling by car, bike or walking 
•    Keep staying safe at work 
•    Keep shielding yourself if you’re vulnerable 
•    Keep supporting local businesses 
•    Keep looking out for each other


'Stick With It Suffolk' is being rolled out across the county by the Suffolk Resilience Forum, which include Suffolk’s NHS, Emergency and Public Services. These local authorities and organisations are working together around the clock to keep Suffolk as safe as possible.

This is how Suffolk will successfully respond to the government’s Stay Alert, Control The Virus, Save Lives message.

People are asked to share their stories and how they are managing to stick with it, using the hashtag #StickWithItSuffolk on social media.

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk Director of Public Health, said: “On behalf of all the members of the Suffolk Resilience Forum, I’d like to say thank you to the people of Suffolk for the sacrifices they are making by following these instructions.

“But now, more than ever, it is important that we stick with it - the number of cases can very easily increase if we take our eye off the ball. This would be a backward step, with strict lockdown measures coming back into force.

“With young children of my own, I understand how difficult it is when they can’t see their family and friends, they would love to see their grandparents but I know this increases the risk to my family and Suffolk residents. We are making progress, and we will continue to do so if we Stick With It Suffolk.”

Dr Mark Shenton, Chair of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our communities for their continued support in helping our health and care system to manage this public health emergency.

“These are unprecedented times and the measures we have all taken so far are really making a difference. This is why it is so important to continue following government guidelines and keeping the two metre distance from each other.

“I am so proud of how our services are responding to this crisis and extremely heartened by the continued support that so many people are giving us by following these rules.

“Please continue to stay alert, continue to help control this virus and help us all save lives.”
 

The information above has been issued on behalf of the Suffolk Resilience Forum. The forum is comprised of the Suffolk’s NHS, Emergency and Public Services, working together to keep the county safe.
For more information, visit www.suffolkresilience.com 

Data references
* https://lginform.local.gov.uk/reports/view/lga-research/covid-19-case-tr...

Cumulative COVID-19 Cases per 100,000 people, last ten available days (upto 13 May)
Across 151 regions in England:
                                    Cases per 100k          = 1 in X people
National average          253.0                        = 1 in 395
Suffolk                         174.8                        = 1 in 572        
Essex                            203.4                        = 1 in 491
Norfolk                         215.1                        = 1 in 464

Previous release - Help available to support your mental health I 15 May 2020

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, help is available – that’s the message from the Suffolk Resilience Forum, ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (18 to 24 May).

Having a mental health crisis can include:
•    thinking about suicide or acting on suicidal thoughts
•    having an episode of psychosis (where you might experience or believe things that others do not)
•    doing something that could put yourself or others at risk
National and local evidence shows a drop in the number of people accessing mental health services during the coronavirus outbreak. It is important that Suffolk people know that help is available all day, every day.

The FirstResponse service, launched by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides immediate advice, support and signposting for people with mental health difficulties. If you are experiencing something that makes you feel unsafe, distressed or worried about your mental health you can now call the helpline on 0808 196 3494.

Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health in Suffolk, said:“The main message is, don’t suffer alone – help is available. Looking after your emotional wellbeing, mental and physical health is incredibly important, and never more so than during this COVID-19 pandemic.

“Access to mental health support is still available. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need to talk to someone, you can get immediate help from FirstResponse and a range of other services.”
More support is available at any time of day or night from Samaritans, who offer confidential and non-judgmental emotional support whenever you need someone to talk to. Call 116 123.

"Kooth offers an online counselling and emotional wellbeing service for 11 to 18-year-olds (up to 19th birthday) in East and West Suffolk, and for 11 to 25-year-olds in Norfolk and Waveney. As well as online counselling, Kooth provides peer-to-peer support, moderated forums with other young members of the ‘Kooth community’ and a wide range of self-help materials."


Suffolk GPs and A&E services also remain open, and there are different options available for speaking to a GP including telephone, text, video call or email.

If you need urgent help, feel desperate or unsafe, you should talk to someone nearby immediately if at all possible, call 999 or visit your nearest A&E department. 

The advice remains that you should not travel to A&E or your doctor’s surgery if you are experiencing any typical symptoms of coronavirus, such as a high temperature or a new continuous cough (coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours).