The priorities were agreed by the Council’s Policy & Resources committee last week, as part of an overall approach to COVID-19.
As well as doing everything possible to protect the health of staff who are responsible for providing the Council’s core services, the Council has prioritized the operational areas that most protect the lives and livelihoods of citizens. These include:
- Services that safeguard vulnerable people, including the Ryecare Lifeline call-out service that is available 24:7 for elderly and vulnerable people
- Housing and tenancy services, to ensure that people have a safe and stable place to live during self-isolation and social distancing
- Provision of benefits, to reduce the impact on residents experiencing financial hardship
- Business engagement and support, to help local companies to access government support as soon as access details are available
- Grass-roots third sector support and volunteers, including a special emergency fund to protect established local charities that are at risk of folding, due to reduced fund-raising opportunities during social distancing
- Household waste collection, in the interests of public health
As well as prioritizing these core services, Ryedale District Council is to play a key role in a new multi-agency response to “shield” those most in need in the district, including people who have recently been discharged from the NHS.
The Council is also working with national and regional partners to forge a new service which will link vulnerable people with support from recognised and reputable charities, and community volunteers. Details of this system are being finalized.
Whilst these structures are still emerging, the Council pledged to provide 100 micro-businesses with membership of the Federation of Small Businesses, which provides access to services such as debt collection, funding and personal health support. The Council’s canteen will also make meals for vulnerable people and school children who are not able to access free school meals.
While the two leisure centres operated on behalf of the Council have had to close in response to the government’s instructions on Friday, Ryedale District Council is seeking to provide alternative employment for the permanent staff, in order to protect jobs until the centres re-open.
Officers have also confirmed that Pickering and Helmsley outdoor markets will remain open for as long as possible, in order to support stall-holders, and allow local people to shop for food and other essentials in the open air.
Councillor Keane Duncan, Leader of Ryedale District Council, and chair of the Policy and Resources Committee which approved the Council’s COVID-19 approach, said:
“Ryedale District Council is prepared to stand by every one of our residents in these unprecedented and uncertain times. It is vital in the challenging circumstances that we stand strong and stick together as a community.
“The council is prioritizing the vital services at this time of crisis and is ready to support everyone and anyone in need of help. We will do all we can to make sure that no-one goes without. You are not alone in this difficult time.
“I am confident that our district will emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient than ever before.”
Commenting on the COVID-19 approach, Stacey Burlet, Chief Executive Officer of Ryedale District Council said:
“We are doing everything we can to keep services operating normally, although things are changing on a daily basis and we are experiencing big spikes in service requests in some areas. Demand is going up, but at the same time we are having to plan for a possible 30% staff absence rate, due to COVID-19. It is a big challenge.
“We have not had to make many changes to services yet, but if we are forced to scale back, we have some very clear priorities in place, to make sure we focus on the services that most support the lives and livelihoods of people in Ryedale.
“Our team is hugely committed, and although is a very challenging time in the Council, morale is good and everyone is pulling together. I’d like to say a big thank you to the team, who are doing a massive amount of work behind the scenes to minimize the impact of this crisis on Ryedale.”
While Council offices at Ryedale House remain open at this time, the Council’s message is “don’t call in, call up”. Wherever possible, people are being urged to phone the Council on 01653 600 666, email on firstname.lastname@example.org or use the website at www.ryedale.gov.uk rather than come to the offices in person.
Further information on the impact of COVID-19 on Council services is available at: www.ryedale.gov.uk/covid-19-response