Guildford’s Spectrum Leisure Centre has been turned into a base for sending out food supplies on behalf of the Government to hundreds of people who are extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 due to medical conditions.
An army of minibus drivers who normally take children to school and provide community transport have been redeployed to ferry out the parcels which contain supplies from a selection including milk, fruit, noodles, oats, tinned goods and chocolate.
The Spectrum base is part of a wider network of hubs in each of Surrey’s districts and boroughs which are organising support for anyone in the county who needs it – not just those who fall within the extremely vulnerable group – whether it be emergency food, help with shopping, prescription collections or care to deal with social isolation and loneliness.
The Surrey Local Resilience Forum is coordinating efforts across the county to support vulnerable people, through a partnership between Surrey County Council, district and borough councils, the NHS, emergency services, the Red Cross and the voluntary, community and faith sector.
Between them, the partners are making proactive calls to people who are being shielded for 12 weeks on advice from the NHS as well as supporting thousands of others who have been identified as vulnerable through various frontline Surrey services.
A community helpline has been set up to make sure that anyone needing support can be linked with volunteers or services who can help. People can call 0300 200 1008 Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 2pm.
Surrey County Council Leader Tim Oliver said: “The core of our mission in these difficult and uncertain times is to protect our vulnerable residents and make sure nobody slips through the net.
“This coordinated countywide effort is a shining example of what we can do together. We’ve already been able to help some residents in severe urgent need with food and medicine – it’s fantastic to know we’re making that difference – and are working tirelessly to make sure we know about everyone in Surrey who needs support.”
Staff from Freedom Leisure, who run the Spectrum Centre on behalf of Guildford Borough Council, have been working around the clock to prepare the boxes for delivery.
Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Caroline Reeves, said: “I’m pleased that our Spectrum Leisure Centre has been chosen by Surrey County Council as a key hub for the distribution of food parcels to our vulnerable residents across the county. Its out of town location close to the A3 and M25 makes it an ideal distribution centre.
“Every local authority is playing a vital part in responding to the outbreak as the national situation unfolds. We are fortunate in Guildford to have very resourceful and diligent officers drawing all of this together. Working with our partners we will ensure that we meet our responsibility to support those in need together.”
Parcels are being provided to shielded people who were contacted by the NHS due to medical conditions and who registered with the Government for support. Deliveries from the Spectrum Centre will continue over the coming days while a Government food delivery service gets up and running.
For more information about the shielding scheme for people with medical conditions, visit the Government’s webpages.
For full details of support available locally, visit surreycc.gov.uk/coronavirus