REGISTERING AS VULNERABLE
A number of constituents have gotten in touch with me about registering as vulnerable. I just wanted to clarify what the situation is around this designation.
The government is compiling a national database of people they are designating as "extremely vulnerable." Many people have been put on this list automatically and sent letters to say they are on it. The criteria for inclusion in this list are quite strict and very specific. It includes people with certain types of cancer or severe respiratory conditions, pregnant women, and people with suppressed immune systems.
This register is designed to identify those who are the most vulnerable and designate them as "extremely vulnerable." It is NOT intended to include everyone who is vulnerable in some way, such as those over 70, or people with other health conditions.
Many online grocery stores are using this register to allocate priority delivery slots. As frustrating as this may be for others, please try to remember that this is to make priority provision available for the MOST needy, not necessary ALL of the needy.
If you are vulnerable or self-isolating and you do not qualify for the register, you can:
try to get a normal grocery delivery slot
discuss your situation directly with the store
use the special shopping hours for vulnerable people
phone your council hub: Richmond: 0208 871 6555, or Kingston: 020 8547 5000
ask for help from your neighbourhood or family support network
order supplies online or by phone from smaller local shops offering delivery in your area. See my list at https://www.saraholneymp.org.uk/covid-19-resources
If you feel you or a family member should be on the national extremely vulnerable list but have not received a letter, the way to get onto it is to fill out the form here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable. Please note that you will have to specify your condition. Age alone does not put you in the official category of "extremely vulnerable." Many people who clearly are vulnerable, and who have been instructed by doctors or officials to self-isolate, will not qualify for "extremely vulnerable" designation.
This list is being shared with councils, who will use it to make sure they are reaching all of the extremely vulnerable and supporting them with food parcels, etc. Councils will also be offering this support to other extremely vulnerable people who are known to them through health or social services but who are not on the central government register.
Please do reach out for help through the council hubs if you are vulnerable or self isolating for other reasons. They are there to support you; they are well resourced by the councils; and they have been deluged with offers of assistance from willing volunteers. And if you can only get a delivery slot from a grocery store for two weeks from now, please take it. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and in two weeks you will be glad you booked it.
Positive results in Richmond and Kingston
I am relieved to report that Richmond and Kingston still have the lowest levels of confirmed Covid-19 cases in London. We have had only 250 confirmed cases across the two boroughs so far. That number will rise, of course, but I want to thank you all for the impressive efforts you have all put in to social distancing, working from home, self-isolating and hygiene. I believe they are paying off in keeping the virus as contained as possible here.
Library card holders can access online library services here: www.kingston.gov.uk/online_library. Take a look at their e-books online tutorial for help on how to access audio books, e-books and e-magazines. They also hope to have a service up and running soon that will provide books at home.
Richmond’s Library Services are posting short pieces of literature every day to encourage residents, who might be missing visiting the borough’s libraries, to read along and share their thoughts. They are available to read on The Library Blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.
Richmond Card holders can access free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, an online music library, and many more online library services. For more information and to access the digital library, please click here. To apply for a Richmond Card online, click here.
COVID-19 AND COVID-19 ANTIBODIES TESTING
There has been a lot of talk this week about the urgent need for government to ramp up testing in the coming weeks. This testing is vital to keep as many health and care workers as possible in work. But it is also important to remember that this state of affairs is going to continue for many more weeks, and we need the information from testing to track what is happening over that time.
At some point, epidemiologists will be able to identify the targets that we as a country will work towards in order to eventually end the lockdown. Testing will be how we know how close we are to reaching those targets. So we need to increase our capacity in this area as much as possible, while also working on prevention and treatment.
Accordingly, I join my Liberal Democrat colleagues in calling for greater resources and greater transparency from government around Covid-19 testing. I hope that a good testing programme will allow us to see the end of this crisis, and will help us reach it sooner.