County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis announced the new response unit as the council’s Cabinet agreed to an initial £1m coronavirus fund to help support vulnerable residents and affected businesses.
The Covid-19 Community Response Unit will be led by public health and emergency planning officers, supported by other council teams including social care, and linking in with the Local Resilience Forum.
The unit will work to bring together other Derbyshire councils and agencies including the voluntary sector, so they can all work more effectively to help support people across the county who are experiencing hardship related to the virus.
“We have obviously been working closely with other agencies since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the county, but this formalises these partnerships and will bring more agencies, including voluntary groups, into the fold.
“A cross-community response is what is needed now, to ensure our communities are as resilient as possible. It’s what people are looking to us to do and what we need to do.
“These efforts will be supported by the initial £1 million that we’ve agreed to make available to support our vulnerable residents, families in need and to help businesses. The money we’re making available is very likely to need to rise over the coming weeks, depending on how badly Derbyshire is affected by the virus.
“That’s why we wholeheartedly welcomed the move by the Government to create a £500 million hardship fund which was announced in last week’s Budget, which will be available for local authorities to tap in to.”
“There is no doubt that this is going to affect many of our residents personally, and it will also have a detrimental effect on local businesses, particularly small and independent traders, but we want people to know that support is available to help them get through the outbreak, whether it’s advice and information or financial support.
“Any further increases in our coronavirus fund will, of course, need to be balanced against the additional costs the council faces in delivering its own services, particularly to vulnerable residents, during this period. It is obviously vital that these services continue to ensure people are cared for when they need it most.
“Agencies including the council will be looking to volunteers to come forward over the coming weeks to help our most vulnerable and support vital services, and we’ll be putting out appeals soon for people who want to help. Offers of help that are already coming in are being collated and people will be contacted as plans take shape.
“It’s important that we all pull together at this time and work to keep everyone as safe and protected as possible.”
Further details of the Derbyshire coronavirus fund and the appeal for volunteers will be made available shortly.