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NFDC staff redeployed for coronavirus food parcel supplies

New Forest District Council's Appletree Court HQ in Lyndhurst
New Forest District Council's Appletree Court HQ in Lyndhurst

STAFF at New Forest District Council have been redeployed to help provide more than 100 food parcels to people in need during the coronavirus emergency.

The New Forest Shielding Hub was set up by the council at the end of March to help deliver food or medicines, and support particularly isolated residents.

Around 15 council officers usually working in other departments, including coastal management, parking enforcement and leisure, now take referral calls before packing and delivering bespoke food parcels. In the first two weeks, over 100 packages were dropped off.

The team, which works alongside Hampshire County Council and voluntary organisation Community First, has identified 35 households to receive regular weekly packages.

The hub is being led by Rebecca Drummond, who normally works as NFDC’s elections and business improvement service manager.

She said: “In a district of more than 76,000 households with a high proportion of older people, we know there are many people who are being advised to take shielding measures for protection from the coronavirus.

“Not all of them will have a local network of people to help them with the essential supplies they need.

“It’s really important that people know where to go for help and advice, to support themselves and their families during this crisis.”

Community First CEO Tim Houghton added: “We are proud and humbled by the way the voluntary sector in the New Forest has been mobilised and is pulling together to deliver the essential lifesaving support that vulnerable people need.”

Residents in need of support should contact the Hampshire helpline on 0333 370 4000. A leaflet is being sent out to all NFDC residents who can also sign up to email alerts online to keep up to date with any service changes at www.newforest.gov.uk/coronavirus

Retraining for essential local services

MORE than 30 NFDC staff have been retrained to ensure essential services continue during the coronavirus crisis.

Council chief executive Bob Jackson said: “Collecting the refuse sacks from 80,000 households every week is a tough job even in usual circumstances and on a lot of rounds means walking 15 miles a day, so this is not an easy thing they are taking on.

“We have people helping to process claims for business grants, monitor CCTV cameras, driving dustcarts, delivering food parcels and answering questions from vulnerable people in our community.”

Crew from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service are also adapting to new roles by driving transport ambulances and acting as first responders to relieve the pressure on paramedics.

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