Coronavirus News 25 November 2021

Blurred photograph of a hand holding a lateral flow test overlapped with black text reading 'When is the End? #COVID19'

What is Coronavirus or COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a very infectious respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is more serious in older people and those with certain health conditions.

Vaccinations

Do you know someone who has not been vaccinated?  Do you think it is because they don’t feel they have enough information about the safety of the vaccine?

It is understandable that people worry that the vaccine is too new for them to be confident it is safe.  But the vaccine is not totally new, it is an adapted version of vaccines that have been around for quite a while.  Also, because of the pandemic, the vaccine has been tested on thousands and, in the past year, researchers have been able to follow the effect of the vaccine on hundreds of thousands of people.

For example, to begin with people were rightly worried about the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women and their babies.  Now, after researchers have been able to follow the pregnancies of over 100,000 women, we know that catching Covid-19 does more harm to them than having the vaccine. 

Vaccinations – over 50s can have booster jabs; go online to book. Please encourage everyone to book their vaccinations, including flu jabs for those entitled.

COVID-19 boosters

The COVID-19 Booster Programme is now open to those aged 40 years and over, as well as frontline health and care staff and those with an underlying health condition.

A COVID-19 booster vaccine dose helps improve the protection you have from your first two doses of the vaccine.

This booster dose will help extend the protection you gained from your first two doses and give you longer term protection.

The booster will help to reduce the risk of you needing admission to hospital due to COVID-19 infection this winter.

That’s why it’s really important that, if you’re eligible for a booster jab, you please book your appointment as soon as possible or visit a walk-in clinic near you.

Visit www.grabajab.net for a full list of walk-in clinics offering boosters near you.

Coronavirus deaths

The first official statistics covering the deaths of those getting home care over the past year have been published.

The figures tell us that the pandemic has probably taken a great toll on a stretched and unequal system.  More than 25,000 people died in the past year while receiving home care in England, and almost 3,000 died over that period in Scotland, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

These figures report deaths having increased in England by nearly 50% between April last year to March, compared with the previous year.  The deaths are of all Disabled people, including older people, who rely on care workers coming into their own homes for them to be able to live independently.  This rise in reported deaths in England of 50%, and in Scotland of 70%, compares to an increase of 22% in the wider population in England, according to figures from the ONS.

However, although recorded deaths have increased quite a lot, relatively few people in home care have died of coronavirus.  Across England, the data is saying only 8.7% were Covid-19 related, though that rose to 20% in some areas.  This suggests the deaths were related to the pandemic, but not caused by the Coronavirus itself.

We can’t say why, just yet, but it may be that with hospitals almost only taking Covid-19 patients for along time led to people dying who may well not have done if the NHS had not been so overloaded.

The data shows very wide regional differences in deaths across England.  This may be because the home care system is quite complex – care can be delivered through one of almost 19,000 providers, including agencies, non-profits, councils, NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups – and differs from area to area.  Or, it may be that the differences relate to how may Covid-19 patients the local hospitals had.

Deaths of adults in home care more than doubled in 38 council areas across England, according to data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). In ten local authority areas recorded deaths tripled.

In Bristol, recorded deaths among those getting home care of one type or another increased from 106 in 2019-2020 to 165 in 2020-2021.  This is a 55.7% increase in deaths.

Warm Home Discount

Warm Home Discount will take £140 off your electricity bill between September and March.

The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

If you have a prepayment (pay as you go) meter, you might get a voucher to top up your meter.

Warm Home Discount Scheme (GOV.UK)

Eligibility for Warm Home Discount Scheme

There are 2 groups which can receive the discount.

Core group

Core group includes those receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.

You should get a letter telling you about the discount if you qualify. Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by the end of March.

Broader group

The broader group includes those on lower incomes who meet the supplier’s eligibility criteria. If you are eligible, you can apply through your supplier’s website.

Not all suppliers offer Warm Home Discount, so it is important to check that your supplier does.

Warm Home Discount Scheme: energy suppliers (GOV.UK)

Opportunity from University Professor from Trinity College Dublin for Parents/Carers to Confidentially Have Your Voice Heard

Flyer for Opportunity to take part in study - text is written in the body text of the blog below the image. Image shows photos of a mum and boy child touching noses, Dr Susan Flynn and the logo for Trinity College Dublin.

Are you a parent of a child or children with Disabilities who has been involved with child protection services? Perhaps you have had your parenting abilities questioned by professionals?

If so, would you like to take part in a study where your opinions, views and experiences are gathered and where your identity is protected? 

If you take part in this study, you will be interviewed for between 45 and 60 minutes and this will happen online at a time that suits you. 

Dr Susan Flynn is a University Lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin and you can contact her confidentially at sflynn7@tcd.ie or by phone to  +353863250613 if you are  interested in participating. Thank you. 

There is no confusion about using an accessible venue

Photograph of Israeli minister Karine Elharrar, left, pictured at the Israeli president's residence in April 2021 in her wheelchair. She is the minister who could not get entry into the Cop26 conference in Glasgow.

Last week the British Prime Minister apologised – very half-heartedly, in our opinion – to the Israeli minister excluded from COP26.  

He said there had been “some confusion with the arrangement”, adding that he was, “very, very sorry about that.” 

That is simply not good enough.

The government has extra responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, over and above what the rest of us are legally required to do, to make sure all that it does, and the buildings it uses, are accessible to Disabled people.  This is called the Public Sector Equality Duty.  

So, the question is not, ‘were alternative arrangements made’ for the minister.  It is, ‘Why did the UK government not bother to book a fully accessible venue in the first place?’

Why does the COP 26 host think that what applies to local councillors, service providers etc does not apply to them?

Mr Johnson’s inadequate apology coincided with Purple Tuesday – an awareness day set up to make organisations improve the accessibility of their goods or services to Disabled customers.

The government even tried to blame the Israeli delegation, with the UK’s Environment Secretary, George Eustice saying, 

“”What would normally happen in this situation is that Israel would have communicated that they had that particular need for their minister.”, 

when interviewed by on Radio 4.

However, a spokesman from the Israeli Embassy in London said the country’s delegation to the summit had 

“communicated over the past several weeks all the details about the minister’s requirements”.

The COP26 organisers went on to say that the main venue was fully wheelchair accessible, while temporary structures built around it had all undergone accessibility checks and were fully compliant.  

But, if this is the case, how come Minister Elharrar could not get into the venue?  Any decent access auditor knows you look at whether the person can get to the accessible entrance, not just the entrance and inside the building itself.

The excuses given do nothing to justify the situation that arose.  Disabled people should have been able to safely and comfortably travel from the city centre/nearby train station[s] into any of the buildings, using the main entrance.  Anything less it not equality and definitely is not respectful of Disabled people, whether ministers or citizens.

Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care – Listening and Engagement Exercise

Logo from the Church of England's website for the Archbishop's Commission on Reimagining Care = graphic of people made up of circular shapes in green, yellow, pink and blue with text in a green/grey underneath reading "Reimagining Care".

The Church of England has set up a commission to look at how social care should be provided and they would like your views. 

Below are the questions they are asking you to respond to as part of the Listening and Engagement stage of the Commission on Reimagining Care’s work. 

The Commission’s aim is to develop a radical and inspiring long-term vision for care and support in England so that everyone can flourish.  Whether you draw on care and support, work in the care sector, care for a neighbour or relative, or have ideas about how care and support could be different, they want to hear from you. 

The Commission will use the responses to their questions to help them decide what practical recommendations to national and local government, policymakers, the Church, the care sector, and society as a whole, about how to deliver a reimagined vision of care and support. 

The would like to thank you for taking the time to complete the questions.  They will greatly value your insights.

To participate in the Listening and Engagement Exercise
1.    Fill out the form online
2.    Download the form
3.    Download the large print version of the form

If for any reason you would prefer to have your say using a different format, please get in touch with the Commission at reimaginingcare@lambethpalace.org.uk

A version of the questions will be available in British Sign Language in the coming days.  [go to: https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/priorities/archbishops-commission-reimagining-care/archbishops-commission-reimagining-care-0 for updates. 

The deadline for responses is Friday 10th December.

Attitude is Everything at Exchange

Logo for Attitude is Everything - black text on a yellow/gold background that reads "attitude is everything".

Attitude is Everything are pleased to be launching a new project in Bristol as part of their new Music Cities project. This project, which is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, seeks to support local Deaf and Disabled people in building accessible music communities.

The Launchpad Initiative aims to support Deaf and Disabled people to develop themselves as events promoters, with Attitude is Everything supplying training and mentoring as participants put on their first events.

They are delighted to be collaborating with the Exchange , a Silver Grassroots Venue on our Live Events Access Charter, on the pilot event.

Ooberfuse

This event will take place on Monday 29 November and feature live performances from Ooberfuse, cLuMsY and Cariss AuburnTickets available now! 

Complimentary tickets are available on request; please email iwan@exchangebristol.com

Nine in ten councillors back call for social care priority in government

(Article taken from Adult social care 24 Jun 2021 ]

Photograph of the back of a person in a wheelchair.

Councillors from across the country and all political parties have called on the Government to give greater priority to social care and start providing more resources for it now, according to a new poll for the Local Government Association (LGA).

The survey of more than 600 councillors showed that 91 per cent agreed with the statement, coming after the devastating coronavirus pandemic which has made pre-existing pressures on the system and their consequences for people who draw on care and support much worse.  

Although the survey was done in June, it is still very relevant given the recent proposals for social care provision.

The LGA supported the survey, which was run by Survation for Social Care Future (SCF) – a movement campaigning to bring about major, positive change in what social care does, how it works and how it is understood by the public.  

The LGA, which represents councils, said the results are another stark reminder of the urgent need for long-awaited proposals on the future of social care and how we fund it.

Ninety-four per cent of councillors agreed with SCF’s vision that the purpose of social care is to ensure that we can all ‘live in the place we call home, be with the people and things that we love, in communities where we care about and support each other, doing the things that matter to us.’  These findings build on SCF’s earlier survey which showed strong public support for this vision of social care. 

Any long-term solution must therefore secure greater preventive investment in social care, allowing people to live their own lives independently in their own homes and communities, alongside long-term funding to tackle key issues facing social care – beyond just protecting people from selling their homes to pay for care.  This should include action on unmet need, support for social care providers and new models of care, and greater support for unpaid carers.

Doing so also requires urgent action to begin building a workforce fit for the future, including action on pay, training and development, career progression, and professional recognition.  This will help develop the skills and future workforce needs of those who need social care and support.

Other results from the survey showed councillors almost all (95 per cent) recognised the important role of councils in supporting and working alongside local communities to ensure people have the support they need to live good lives.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: 

“Social care has been on the frontline throughout the pandemic and there has never been a more crucial time to find a long-term solution to how we support all those who draw upon and work in these vital services.

“As this survey proves, local councillors across the country and of all political parties are overwhelmingly in favour of social care being a major priority for the Government along with the funding needed to not just get through the pandemic, but to build back better from it.

“Millions of people who draw upon or work in social care deserve to know that their and their families’ future is secure, after all they have experienced over the past 15 months. …………..

“The work of Social Care Future (SCF) over the last two years has been an important contribution to the debate about the kind of social care system we want and need, focusing on what people who themselves draw on social care need for them to live their best lives, which should be at the heart of any future reforms.”

Notes

Social Care Future’s vision is that we should draw together the support we, or those close to us, need if we have a health condition or disability during our lives, that we can draw upon to live our lives the way we want to, with meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging, no matter our age or stage of life.  It was developed with the involvement of people that draw on and work in the field of social care and thorough extensive public audience research: How to build public support to transform social care – summary of public audience research 

The survey comes as Social Care Future also published the results of its own inquiry setting out five key changes which are needed to bring about a more positive future of care and support:

 Communities where everyone belongs;
 Living in the place we call home;
 Leading the lives we want to live;
 More resources, better used;
 Sharing power as equals.

Should there be an app for young people who hear voices? From Hearing the Voice

Logo for Hearing the Voice - graphic of a sound wave overlapped by white text that reads "hearing the voice".

Back in 2018, Hearing the Voice (HtV) launched a new website, Understanding Voices (UV), to help support people who hear voices and their loved ones.

They have questions … lots of questions!  How could an app help young people who hear voices?  What might it do that would be useful?  What would make it off-putting?  They know there are lots of mental health apps out there that just sit on the digital shelf or are downloaded and then hardly ever used.

Would the app have information and coping strategies? A peer support forum?  A diary?  Or people’s stories?  How should it look and feel to use?

If you’re aged 16–25 with personal experience of hearing voices, they’d love to hear what you think.  They’d like to hear from people who are interested in using digital technology to help them cope with their voices, but if you’re someone who doesn’t like using apps for mental health purposes, they’re also keen to understand more about why. If you’d like to take part in this consultation, you can choose to complete an anonymous survey and/or sign up for one of their online focus groups.

Click here to take part in the anonymous survey or focus groups

Bristol Crisis Service for Women Podcasts From Self Injury Support

Self Injury Support is creating a series of podcasts about how the organisation started and the history of its brilliant peer-led support services.

Based on 22 interviews with former staff and volunteers, the podcasts will tell their story in their own words.

To make sure they’re not just speaking to themselves,  they are looking for feedback from other women’s peer-led mental health organisations and activists during the content development process.  If you have the time and interest to take part in one of their research and development Zoom sessions, please contact Marnie Woodmeade (marniewoodmeade@outlook.com) for more information.

You can find out more about the project here.

Has your energy provider gone bust?

Don’t worry, your gas and electricity supply will continue regardless of what happens to your supplier because the Ofice of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) will arrange for a new supplier to take over your account.

The new supplier will contact you to tell you they’ve taken over your energy supply.  This may take a few weeks.

It’s worth keeping and or downloading copies of your latest energy bills and take photos of your latest meter readings for reference. 

If you were in debt with a supplier who has gone bust you will still have to repay this debt.  If you were in credit with this supplier you should get a refund. 

You can find out more on Ofgem’s website: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/