Latest COVID advice & information from Devon County Council

Wednesday 17 June 2020

One of the bright things to have come out of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the overwhelming number of amazing people and groups doing inspiring things for others in their communities. We could fill a book with examples of projects and actions that groups and individuals have told us about, and the work they’re doing locally.

This week we hear from North Devon, where a football team for young people and adults with disabilities has been keeping their players active and connected.

It’s also national Loneliness Week this week. Recent analysis shows that during the first month of lockdown, around 7.4 million people said that their wellbeing was affected through loneliness.

Local community groups and individuals, friends and neighbours – we’ve all got a part to play in helping each other as we ease safely towards a return to normality. As we go about our business, we shall do so with care and with thought for others.

In this update:

  • Beware another test and trace scam
  • Free school meals to be extended over the summer holidays
  • North Devon football team tackles lockdown loneliness
  • RNLI to increase lifeguard provision this summer
  • Guides for businesses to help them re-open safely


Look out for test and trace scam

We’ve heard about another test and trace scam, which is also trying to con people into paying for a COVID-19 swab test.

Here’s what happened. A care home manager received a text to say that he had tested positive following a recent swab, and that he needed another test. He phoned the number in the text and was told that he’d have to pay for the test. He was asked for his bank details.

This is a scam, and it was quickly reported to the police.

For avoidance of any doubt, the NHS Test and Trace service will absolutely not:


  • ask for bank details or payments
  • ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087


Text messages will come from NHStracing.

Calls will come from 0300 0135000. You’ll be asked to sign in to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website.

One in every three people have been contacted by a scammer since the outbreak began, according to Citizen’s Advice.

They’re offering advice on how to protect yourself and others against them.


Free school meals to be extended over the summer holidays

Children in England who are eligible for free school meals will receive a six-week food voucher to cover the summer holiday period, after a campaign by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford.

A spokesman for the prime minister announced that all children eligible for free school meals during term time in England will continue to be provided for through a ‘COVID-19 Summer Food Fund’, estimated to be around £120 million.

The decision will provide around 1.3 million children with meals throughout the summer holidays.

If you are on a low income, you or your family may also be entitled to claim for free school meals. The criteria for free school meals is on the government’s website.

You can make a quick application online where your eligibility can be assessed immediately, and let you know straight away.

To apply for free school meals please visit the Free School Meal Portal.

If you have any other queries relating to free school meal entitlement you can email the team at freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk.


Football team tackles lockdown loneliness

Braunton FC Ability Team, for young people and adults with disabilities, has been keeping their players active, connected and entertained during lockdownwith the help of a £350 grant that we funded jointly with North Devon Council.

They used it to deliver activity packs to their 25 players, aged between 7 and 57 years old with disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, learning difficulties and epilepsy.

Melanie, one of their coaches, said:

“We want to say a massive thank you…The packs have been very popular, and we have enjoyed being able to deliver them to our players – seeing them using their packs has been amazing and feedback from parents and carers has been terrific.”


RNLI to increase lifeguard provision this summer

The RNLI is increasing the number of beaches which will have a lifeguard service this summer.

The charity hopes to have lifeguards on around 170 beaches by early July – 70 percent of the beaches it would patrol in a normal summer.

Their Chief Executive said: “The first few weeks of having lifeguards back on beaches has helped us properly test the news ways of operating and reassured everyone that we can accelerate and expand our plans.”

The charity is also continuing to urge people to plan their visit to the coast to keep themselves and their families safe. You can read the advice on their website.


Guides for businesses to help them re-open safely

Non-essential businesses opened again this week in England, but not all businesses are yet allowed to open.

Check if your business or venue can open.

The Government has updated its guidance to businesses. They have eight guides to help employers, employees and self-employed, to understand how to work safely during COVID-19.

The guides cover a range of different types of work. Depending upon your business, you may need to refer to more than one guide.


About the NHS Test and Trace service

For those of us fortunate enough so far to not have needed contact with the NHS testing and tracing programme, this is what it is, and why it’s important.

The NHS test and trace service:

  1. provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 to find out if they have the virus
  2. gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to find out who they have had close recent contact with
  3. alert those people where necessary, and notify them that they need to self-isolate to help stop the virus spreading

By self-isolating, people who have had close recent contact with someone with COVID-19 will help prevent the virus spreading to others.

Employers are being asked to play their part by making their workplaces as safe as possible and encouraging workers to self-isolate if they’ve been notified to do so.

There is guidance for employers and self-employed people on the Government’s website, including what to do if there are multiple outbreaks in the workplace.

The COVID-19 app, which is currently being trialled in the Isle of Wight before a national rollout, will be part of the NHS test and trace service. It should speed up the contact tracing, and reach people who wouldn’t be reached through traditional forms of contact tracing, such as a stranger on the bus.

More information about the NHS COVID-19 App is available online


How lockdown has impacted on loneliness

Recent ONS analysis has shown that during the first month of lockdown, the equivalent of 7.4 million people said that their wellbeing was affected through loneliness.

They were more likely than others to struggle to find things to help them cope, and were less likely to feel that they had support networks to fall back on.

As restrictions have started to ease, and more people are going back to work and school, important social connections will slowly re-build.

But the effects of loneliness for some will be longer-lasting. There are many people who haven’t been able to return to their daily lives yet, or who have to self isolate, and will continue to need support.

This week is Loneliness Awareness Week. Charities and private sector organisations have got together to organise online events and offer tips on how you can help someone who may be lonely.

Here are some ways that you can get involved in Loneliness Awareness Week.

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
Government website and NHS website. You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Please forward this email to anyone you think would find it useful and encourage them to sign up.

Please note that all of our sites and offices are closed to the public, except for necessary prearranged visits, but you can still contact us if you need to.