Changes to Key Services and Local Updates
Updated: 5 days ago
Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in Newcastle and the north east
From Friday 18 September, new measures have been brought in. In summary:
Residents must not socialise with other people outside their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens
Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
Late night restriction of operating hours will be introduced, with leisure and entertainment venues required to close between 10pm and 5am
Residents are also advised to adhere to the following guidance to further reduce rates of infection:
Residents should not socialise with other people outside their own households in all public venues
Residents should only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
Holidays should be taken within your own household or support bubble
Residents are advised against attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators
More information is available here.
Newcastle steps up COVID Control Plans
Newcastle City Council has raised the city’s COVID Control Plan to amber following a spike in cases across the region. As a precaution, care homes across the city have been advised to close to non-essential visits, with the exception of residents receiving end-of life care or with dementia. The change in status does not mean additional formal restrictions will be in place across Newcastle compared to the rest of the UK. For the latest COVID information in Newcastle, including support available for residents and businesses, please visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Are you self isolating? Are you finding it difficult?
Correctly self-isolating is the best way to keep our families, community and city safe. We know there are lots of things to think about if you are self-isolating; food, work, money, even who is going to walk your dog. Newcastle City Council have a welfare checklist to help you think about those questions. Complete the online form and someone from the Welfare and Wellbeing Team will phone you back to help you think about all the things you need when self-isolating. The Welfare and Wellbeing Team work from Monday to Saturday during the hours of 8am to 8pm. For immediate support, please phone 0191 277 8000 for a same day discussion. Otherwise, you can complete this form and they will contact you within 36 hours.
Council launches new service to help people into work
The Jobs@skillshub project, funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s COVID-19 Capacity Fund, will provide a job matching service for those looking for work and information on events, work experience, apprenticeships and training. Once registered, people will also receive information on vacancies and other opportunities, to help them move closer to work or training. The new service will complement existing services provided by the Skills Hub. Based at the City Library, the Skills Hub works with a range of partners, including Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service, and has supported hundreds of people into education, work or training. For more information, please click here.
Health and wellbeing
Newcastle City Council have a website page with advice on how to look after yourself and your family during this time, particularly when staying at home, given that some people understandably find social distancing or self-isolation very difficult. At this time more than ever, emotional and mental wellbeing should be considered. The Coronavirus: Looking after yourself website page includes some helpful information and advice on how to do this, much of this from the Mental Health Foundation website
Recovery of outstanding sundry debt and Council Tax
Since March, Newcastle City Council have not pursed any debt recovery other than issuing invoices and bills for sundry debt, Council Tax and business rates. This week the Revenues and Benefits teams will slowly be restarting the recovery of income due to the Council, as follows:
Reminder letters will be sent to residents this week and, where appropriate, the team will arrange suitable payment plans to support those who are struggling financially as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). The phone line will open and residents will be able to contact them on 0191 278 7878 (ask for debt recovery).
Council Tax and business rates
Reminder letters will be sent to residents this week who have fallen behind with Council Tax and later in the month for business rates. These reminders will hopefully encourage payments before official recovery notices are issued. During these unprecedented times, it has been difficult for some residents and the reminder letter is intended to encourage those who are struggling financially to make contact for support.
Residents can phone 0191 278 7878 about Council Tax (ask for Council Tax), or can complete an online form at www.newcastle.gov.uk/counciltax.
Current working arrangements of teams within Newcastle City Council’s Active Inclusion Service
The FoodWorks catering outlets, including Lazeez at Fenham Library and the coffee carts, are all temporarily closed. Natures Landscapes reopened on 3 August 2020.
Other Supported Employment staff, the Money Matters debt and budgeting team and the Welfare Rights team are only providing telephone and email advice until further notice. The telephone lines for the public and professionals are open as normal.
Face-to-face services and the Skylight centre remain closed, whilst they work on their re-entry plan. The Newcastle team have been working on a new online learning programme, accessible via their website www.crisis.org.uk/newcastle. They also continue to offer support remotely for the foreseeable future and will continue to work directly with members by phone and online for those requiring individual and ongoing support. They welcome new member referrals for learning and / or support and are checking the firstname.lastname@example.org inbox daily. Alternatively, you can leave a voicemail on their office phone number (0191 222 0622) and they will endeavour to respond to your query as soon as they can.
Moneywise Credit Union videos
Moneywise Credit Union have developed a series of short videos to promote their credit union and the services offered. The videos can be accessed here.
Emergency Central Heating Offer
The Emergency Central Heating Offer (ECHO) scheme reopens on 7 September 2020. ECHO can offer replacement central heating boilers to residents if the following applies:
· they are a home owner;
they have a gas boiler which is not working and beyond economical repair;
they receive an eligible benefit www.gov.uk/energy-company-obligation or have a household income less than £26,000 per year
Please contact Energy Services for more information by email at email@example.com.
Shopmobility service to resume
Newcastle’s Shopmobility service is set to re-open its doors again following the easing of lockdown restrictions. The popular scheme, which offers shoppers access to mobility scooters and other mobility aids in Eldon Gardens, will make a welcome return from 1 September. For the service to be COVID-secure, a number of changes are being made to keep staff and shoppers safe. This includes a pre-booked service only for nine scooters a day, changes to the reception area to avoid people gathering, dedicated parking area for scooters to be collected on Level 4 of Eldon Garden car park and additional cleaning of equipment. Being COVID-secure means that staff will no longer be able to carry shopping bags or assist people on to their mobility scooters. Toilet facilities next to the Shopmobility office will no longer be available.
Response to rise in COVID cases in Newcastle
In recent weeks, several premises in the city have closed following small outbreaks of COVID-19, and there has been a rise in cases particularly among young adults. Many of these cases have been linked to the hospitality sector and as a result, the guidance to businesses and their customers has been reiterated to remind people of their responsibilities in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Lorna Smith, Public Health Consultant, has recorded a video message setting out the requirements, including what needs to be done to protect yourself and others and the steps businesses need to follow to prevent further outbreaks. You can view the video here.
Citizens Advice ‘Help to Claim’ service
Citizen's Advice helps people find a way forward. Help to Claim is a dedicated Service from Citizen's Advice. It's free, independent, confidential and impartial. Call us for free: 0800 144 8 444 - advisers are available 8am - 6pm Monday - Friday. Chat to our trained advisers online: citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim - Chat is usually available 8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday about your Universal Credit application process. If no advisers are available, the chat box will not appear. Our Help to Claim service is available face-to-face in local Citizen's Advice offices, and in other locations like libraries and job centres. Find the details of of your nearest face to face to service on our website: citizensadvice.org.uk/help to claim.
West end COVID-19 testing site
A new centre to provide access to COVID-19 tests is being opened in Newcastle’s west end. The NHS Test and Trace Centre on the former Newcastle General Hospital site will offer residents tests for coronavirus by appointment. As part of a national network, the centre will be linked to the national test booking system and will feed results into the NHS Test and Trace system to help control the spread of the virus. The centre has been built over the last few days and began testing on 21 August 2020. For more information, please click here<https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/citylife-news/community/new-covid-testing-facility-opens-newcastle>.
West End Refugee Service (WERS) Drop in Service
The WERS’ drop in service has resumed with some changes. The service is open Monday and Wednesdays AM and PM. Sessions offer support, advice and signposting for asylum seekers and refugees in the Newcastle area. The service has support workers in rooms with screens and a socially distanced waiting area. Clients can also opt to see a support worker in the garden area. Telephone support is still available Monday to Friday between 10am and 1pm on main number 0191 273 7482, and via support work team mobiles: Helen: 0782 611 7308 or Ali : 0782 622 1719.
Citizens Advice Newcastle have reopened their public drop-in advice services from 3 August 2020. Please note that these sessions will be very restricted, dealing only with urgent problems and assisting vulnerable residents. Sessions will be delivered in line with control measures at City Library.
Action Foundation’s InterAction Drop-ins are now open for face-to-face support of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants. They run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm at CastleGate on Melbourne Street (NE1 2JQ) and offer one-to-one support and information around accommodation, registering with a doctor, asylum and immigration issues etc. On Wednesdays there will be outdoor social sessions meeting at the bandstand in Exhibition Park at 2pm
Face coverings must be worn by library visitors
As of 31 July 2020, visitors to Newcastle’s City Library are being asked to wear a face covering. The City Library will be brought in line with shops and supermarkets in England by making the wearing of a face covering compulsory for the majority of people. Only people with certain medical conditions and children under the age of 11 years old will be exempt from the new rule. It is advised that all children younger than three years old should not wear face coverings at all.
Quayside Market set to reopen
The Quayside Market will return on Sunday 2 August, from 9am to 4pm. As with the rest of the city centre, visitors must stick to social distancing measures. The market will run along one side of the Quayside next to the river, which will leave enough space for pedestrians to move around safely. Due to the reduced size of the market, a rota system will be in place for traders – one week on and one week off. It is hoped that 60 stalls will be at the market each week. For more information, click here
Emergency Central Heating Offer
The Emergency Central Heating Offer scheme offers financial help to residents who own their homes to replace broken central heating boilers. The scheme has closed to new referrals but we expect it to reopen in September. For more information, email Energy Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Housing Advice Centre
The Housing Advice building remains closed for face-to-face advice until further notice and Newcastle City Council’s Housing Advice Centre staff continue to provide telephone and email advice. This is to help us all to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. Please don’t attend the Housing Advice Centre in person as the building will be closed. Instead, please phone 0191 277 1712 or 0191 277 1716 or email email@example.com.
Changes to benefit and debt advice services due to coronavirus Newcastle City Council’s website includes changes to how residents can contact advice services and benefit offices at Benefit advice services in Newcastle and benefit offices. This includes Where to get advice in Newcastle, which was updated in June. The ‘coronavirus and benefits’ website information has been updated and consists of the following three website pages:
· Coronavirus and benefits – what the changes mean for you describes the main measures, explains what they mean for you and provides more detail
· Coronavirus and benefits – guidance and legislation provides background resources, with guidance from the government and independent sources and the legislation that has brought in the measures
·Coronavirus and benefits – news includes the latest announcements, so you can see them as they happen rather than being hidden in the detail
Newcastle City Council is continuing to collect Council Tax. However, anyone who is struggling to pay should visit their website for more information and contact details. For those people who are self-isolating and can’t go to the Post Office or use an automated payment line, payments can be made over the phone (0191 278 7878).
Tyne and Wear museums reopening
A number of Tyne and Wear museums are to reopen in the next couple of months. The museum and gallery openings will be phased and there will be some changes to the way you visit, including needing to pre-book a time:
· 27 July – Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort and Segedunum Roman Fort
10 August – Laing Art Gallery
13 August – South Shields Museum & Art Gallery
21 August – Stephenson Steam Railway
25 August – Shipley Art Gallery
1 September – Discovery Museum
1 September – Great North Museum: Hancock
Autumn – Hatton Gallery and Tyne & Wear Archives
More information is available here.
Health and wellbeing
Newcastle City Council have a website page with advice on how to look after yourself and your family during this time, particularly when staying at home, given that some people understandably find social distancing or self-isolation very difficult. At this time more than ever, emotional and mental wellbeing should be considered. The Coronavirus: Looking after yourself website page includes some helpful information and advice on how to do this, much of this from the Mental Health Foundation website.
Newcastle launches a Citylife Business Support Line for SMEs
On 8 July 2020 Newcastle City Council launched a new service supporting small and medium businesses to sustain, recover and safeguard jobs. More information is available here.
Shelter’s face-to-face services are closed but the team can be contacted from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm, on 0344 515 1601 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Residents can send a text to 07919 046449 to get a call back.
Northumbrian Water are offering payment breaks for people affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), in addition to their usual schemes. The missed payments during the break period will be collected in future payments, so it isn’t suitable for residents who will be unable to make up their payments in future months. More information is available here
Moneywise Branch in Byker is now fully open again for members and the public. They are open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4.30pm with social distancing measures in place to protect members and staff.
Newcastle Futures are still delivering their service to help residents to access key sector jobs now, as well as helping residents to prepare for when employers are fully open for business. You can register for Newcastle Futures Tyne Online, a new digital employment service, at www.tyneonline.co.uk or email email@example.com or phone Jess on 07891 594944. They are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TyneOnline/
If you have a disability or a medical condition that means that you are exempt from wearing a face covering on public transport, you may find it useful to download a Journey Assistance Card. You can print this card at home, or save it to your mobile phone. The Journey Assistance Card can be shown to staff when you are travelling on public transport in north east England. More information is available here.
Nexus continue to announce changes to local public transport, with reduced bus and metro services. More information is available here.
Birth registrations have resumed but are strictly by appointment only and availability will be staggered based on the date of birth of the child. Parents of babies born before March 31 2020 are now being invited to contact the Register Office to make an appointment. Please phone 0191 2787878 and ask for registrars or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Active Inclusion Newcastle information update: 21st September 2020