I hope that you have all had a good summer and as we head into winter, I thought I should again update you on some key developments in Buckinghamshire.
Whilst most of us have seen life return to something approaching ‘normal’ over the past few months it is important to remember that Covid has not gone way and remains a threat to many in our county. You may have seen in the news that Covid infection rates are rising again nationally. This is also true in Buckinghamshire. Here we now have an infection rate of 699 per 100,000 population. This compares to just 440 a few weeks ago.
It is important to stress that infection rates are not the same as serious illness. Infection rates reflect the number of people being tested and also will include many people who do not display any symptoms at all. More than half of Covid infections in Bucks are either school age children or live with school age children. With our national vaccine programme, it is also more likely that anyone catching Covid will not suffer severe effects. Nevertheless, the trend is concerning and we are seeing more cases amongst older aged people who may be more vulnerable to serious illness. This is especially true if they have not been fully vaccinated.
The current Covid-19 figures for Buckinghamshire can be found here:
A concern is that rising Covid cases, when combined with a greater likelihood of catching the winter flu, the need for the NHS to catch up with the large backlog of operations and treatments delayed due to Covid, and higher numbers of people attending Accident and Emergency departments is already putting pressure on our NHS hospitals in Buckinghamshire. None of us want to go back into more restrictions unnecessarily. I am therefore urging all of us to take the basic sensible precautions that will reduce the likelihood of this being necessary.
I would strongly encourage you to:
- Be vaccinated if you’re eligible. This is so important.
- Have the booster vaccination as soon as you’re eligible. You will be invited by the NHS to book an appointment.
- Have your winter flu jab if you’re eligible.
- Wear a face mask on public transport and when asked to by shops and in crowded enclosed spaces.
- Self-isolate and book a PCR test if you have symptoms.
- Keep rooms ventilated if you’re meeting with others inside.
The council has been working hard with other organisations to help keep Buckinghamshire safe. This has included working with the NHS to set up more local vaccine clinics, sending mobile testing vans into our communities and supporting the vaccine roll out for 12-15 year olds in secondary schools. We have come a long way since the difficult lockdown days earlier this year. Let’s keep working together to keep each other safe.
Support for the vulnerable
Our Helping Hand team are available to help individuals or families in need, those on low incomes and those who are experiencing a financial emergency or crisis.
Whether you get in contact by phone or the online form, we will ask you a few questions about your situation so that we can offer the best support or advice.
Help with food and food costs – If you are struggling to afford food, our Helping Hand team can make referrals on your behalf to a local food bank.
You can also use the Buckinghamshire Online Directory to find organisations in your area who can help you with food. Many of these organisations are providing food and meals during the school holidays.
Help with household bills –If you are unable to pay your energy costs and are struggling to keep your home warm, please contact us.
We can discuss the options available to you and help you apply for grants from third party organisations. We may also be able to help with any other essential bills.
Help with essential items for your home –Please contact us if you need help with essential furniture. We can explore the best support for you.
Some external charities can help with essential furniture if you are on a low income:
- Aylesbury Vineyard Church: The Vineyard work on a referral basis for furniture collections.
- High Wycombe Central Aid: Help local people who are in need and/or on a low income with basic essential furniture and electricals.
- Thomas Hickman Charity: Can help people on low incomes with aids for living such as washing machines, carpets, cookers and fridges.
Get in touch –let us know if:
- you are struggling to afford food
- you cannot keep on top of your bills
- you are in debt
- you are struggling to pay for essential goods in your home
To request support from the Helping Hand team either use our online form or phone 01296 531151.
Our phone lines are open Monday to Thursday 9am to 5:30pm and Friday 9am to 5pm.
In an emergency, our out-of-hours team can be contacted on 0800 999 7677.
In the Chiltern and Wycombe areas we are still collecting food waste as general rubbish.
This is because of a national shortage of HGV drivers and a small number of Covid-related cases meaning crews have had to self-isolate in line with government guidelines.
This is just an interim measure and means that residents in Chiltern and Wycombe should dispose of their food waste together with their general rubbish (in the black bin). Brown food caddies will still be emptied if presented on general rubbish week only, but this waste will not be recycled during this time. General rubbish will still be collected every two weeks. Collections in the rest of the county are unaffected.
We will let you know when the situation changes.
Mental health support
The free Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire 24/7 mental health helpline for adults and young people has supported more than 2,000 people since the start of the pandemic.
Contact the helpline anytime if you are worried about your mental health or that of a loved one via 111 online or by phone.
Lastly, please keep an eye on elderly or frail friends or neighbours as we go into the winter months. Vulnerable people may be afraid or too proud to ask for help but it takes so little to enquire if they are all right or need any assistance.
Leader of Buckinghamshire Council