SURREY County Council has set up a community helpline number (0300 200 1008) to help those most at risk from COVID-19.
The purpose of the community phone line is to help direct residents who need support, such as picking up shopping, prescription collections or having someone who can be a telephone friend, to services who can help.
It also aims to provide advice to residents on where they can register an offer of help to support their community.
The helpline will complement a similar, more localised support helpline set to be launched at the Farnham Maltings this week.
And across the border, East Hampshire-based charity Community First is working with key agencies to coordinate the volunteer and community response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Working across Hampshire, Community First is working with districts with three clear aims:
* Any Hampshire residents requiring support and advice in this crisis should email [email protected]. Hampshire First is continuing some of its own services such as transport, shopmobility and wellbeing service and will endeavour to put people in contact with their local community support.
* "We are here to support our members," said a spokesman for the charity. "If you have any questions, contact us. We’ll be updating twice weekly. Go to www.cfirst.org.uk/community-first-enews/ to get on our mailing list or email [email protected] "
Tim Houghton, Community First’s CEO, said: “We are working with a wide range of agencies and groups to ensure that elderly and vulnerable members of our communities are supported at this difficult time.
"If you are worried about a neighbour, friend or isolated relative we can signpost you to the local community support that’s available’.
"Across our communities we have an army of volunteers coming forward to help those most in need. We want to build on this social action and provide people with the tools to carry on this essential role.
"If you are coordinating a team of volunteers and would like to offer support please contact us via our website www.cfirst.org.uk and a member of our rapid response team will be in contact with you."
Surrey County Council has also launched a public information campaign around five key things for people to do during the coronavirus outbreak:
Sharing only official information and guidance from trusted sources – not spreading rumour or panic.
* Staying sensible – washing hands regularly, keeping physical distance from each other.
* Thinking about what help you need or how you can help.
* And making sure we’re keeping in touch with each other – phone, text, facetime, just checking in – and keeping our minds healthy.
Leader of Surrey County Council, Tim Oliver said: “At this time of great uncertainty we are here, as a public service, to help guide people through. Please visit the www.surreycc.gov.uk website for up to date information.
“We are mobilising all available staff in the best way with the key priority of looking after our most vulnerable residents – those who are dependent on our help as a County Council.
“I know there are a lot of community groups and many individual residents wanting to help, and mobilising that support in the most effective way is critical. We also have to be careful that anything we do collectively does not spread this virus.
“We have teams working flat out alongside our boroughs and districts and our voluntary and community groups to coordinate a huge community effort – there are small things like people helping elderly or self-isolating neighbours that we often see in Britain in these moments, there are financial offers or support and also experienced voluntary organisations mapping out where help is needed most.
“One positive we can take is that this situation is uniting us, not only as a country but globally. We are all in this together, and we will get through this together.
“This is such a fast-moving situation and coordinating all this work is complex but the goodwill and resource is there and we will work to make sure it is put to the most effective use.”
Surrey residents are advised to visit the website or to call the helpline 0300 200 1008 if you know of anyone who needs support or if you want to volunteer your help.
The helpline will not be able to provide any public health advice, with residents advised to continue to seek up to date guidance from www.nhs.uk/coronavirus and use existing services such as 111 online.
The helpline will also be unable to answer general enquiries relating to council services, with the advice for this remaining that residents use the standard contact page.
For the full information on the community helpline, and general community support please visit https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus/community-support
A total of 156 cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Hampshire, a one-day rise of 18, while 68 have been confirmed in neighbouring Surrey, up three.
Nationally, 665 extra cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the UK on Sunday, taking the total number of cases nationwide to 5,683.
To-date, 281 deaths in the UK have been linked to the virus, while 135 patients have already made a full recovery after contracting the virus.