Friday 27th March 2020
Dear Cllr. Caroline Kerr,
We are writing to you in turbulent times.
We commend the efforts of the Council, Kingston Voluntary Action and Volunteering Kingston for launching the community volunteering hub – “Kingston Stronger Together” to coordinate volunteers assisting residents affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. This is certainly the best way to coordinate help, in a way which safeguards those requiring it.
We are deeply concerned about the situation in which many people in our community find themselves. Vulnerable people are facing isolation, with limited access to care, and food. Those who have lost jobs, or are on zero-hours contracts – these people will not ordinarily be linked with the Council or Voluntary Sector Services, and may be at a loss as to where they can find help.
In isolation, people who experience domestic abuse are highly at risk. This abuse will likely increase. Mental health is also a concern during self-isolation. The DWP are being overwhelmed with people trying to get financial aid. You must make sure no residents are left destitute and hungry.
This week, the Government passed legislation which will limit people’s entitlement to health and social care, for a period of up to two years, with a review after 6 months. This new legislation will limit the provision of social care services to those who are considered most in need, at the discretion of the local authority.
We seek your assurance that people receiving social care in Kingston will not be impacted, and that the Council will continue with its current level of support to those who receive care in Kingston. We have yet to see clear information from the Council on where those thrown into financial instability can get emergency food supplies.
Additionally, we recommend the following:
- Clearer communications on how people can receive help, and access foodbanks. We want to ensure that people know how to access support, so they don’t struggle in silence. Not everyone will be linked to Council communications or on social media.
- We suggest that the council write to all residents with details of how they can request food and other supplies, or other assistance should they need it, so they can access support safely.
- This letter should also include a directory of voluntary organisations, including where to get help for those who experience domestic abuse or who are struggling with their mental health.
- Lastly, we ask that you follow the lead of Hounslow Council, who communicated that they will look sympathetically on any resident struggling with Council Tax, treating each situation on a case by case basis. Your residents need your support and reassurance more than ever now.
We send our regards to members of Council staff at this time, working hard to ensure residents are not left without support.
Kingston & Surbiton Labour