Community hub closes following change to Government shielding guidelines
RUGBY'S community shielding hub has closed following the relaxation of Government guidance to vulnerable residents.
The new guidelines came into effect on Monday (6 July), bringing to an end a 12-week 'shielding' period when residents considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic were instructed to remain in isolation at home.
Based at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Centre, the borough's community shielding hub was operational within a week of the lockdown being enforced.
Rugby Borough Council redeployed staff to run the hub, packing and distributing supply parcels containing food and toiletries to nearly 300 residents.
The hub catered for vegetarian, vegan and other dietary requirements, while making sure residents with pets received cat, dog and even fish food.
Supply packages also contained activity packs created by Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, which included puzzle books, sketch pads, pencils, paints and 'lockdown diaries' for children.
In addition to delivering essential supplies, the hub team telephoned shielding residents every week, offering support, advice and a listening ear, and were on call at weekends to talk to residents and arrange emergency deliveries.
Since Monday, Government guidance means shielding residents can now socialise outside with a group of up to six people and form a 'support bubble' with another household.
Details of the updated guidance, together with information about the support available now the shielding hub has closed, have been included in a letter from the Government delivered with supply packages.
The council has also contacted residents on the borough's shielding list to ensure all have access to food deliveries and other support now the hub has closed.
And Cllr Emma Crane, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for communities and homes, urged shielding residents with concerns to contact the council for advice.
Cllr Crane said: "The borough's shielding hub supported our most vulnerable residents during the peak of the pandemic, but I can reassure those residents we're still here to help now the Government has started to relax the lockdown restrictions.
"Lockdown has proven a testing time for all of us, but for many residents on the NHS shielding list, it was particularly challenging and disconcerting.
"For those residents, the team at the hub were a lifeline, delivering the household essentials and also providing advice, support and a friendly ear.
"The staff who were redeployed to run the hub have done both themselves and the council proud, ensuring it was operational seven days a week for three months and, on occasion, taking calls from residents in the early hours of the morning," Cllr Crane added.
"So while in practical terms we distributed nearly 1,700 supply packages to our shielding residents, the emotional support the team was able to offer went well beyond supplying tins of food and toiletries."
Residents on the NHS shielding list who have concerns about food deliveries or other support can contact the council on (01788) 533533.