Covid-19: Frequently Asked Questions

What are you doing to help?

A:

I am working hard to support every constituent who contacts me with problems or concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and to ensure that the needs of our communities are represented to the government. I will be regularly updating my twitter feed here and my Facebook here with my latest actions locally and in Parliament. You can also find details of my work on the Covid-19 outbreak and any other issue here.

I am in contact with our local hospitals, councils, schools and voluntary organisations to help support their response.

Can you still help with my case?

A:

Yes – along with my team, I am continuing to make representations on behalf of constituents. You can contact me by emailing helen.hayes.mp@parliament.uk or calling 0207 219 6971. At this time, we have a great deal of additional work as a result of Covid-19, much of it urgent and time critical and we are having to prioritise these cases.  Please bear with me if we take a little longer than usual to respond on issues which are not time critical.

I am elderly or in one of the extremely vulnerable groups and need additional support?

A:

The Government ended the shielding scheme on 1st August 2020.  I know that this was distressing and confusing for many from clinically vulnerable residents who felt that it was still not safe to be out in the community.  It is concerning that while restrictions have been tightened up in many areas across the country, there is still no new guidance or support for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Our local councils and charities are continuing to provide support wherever possible. Southwark Council has set up a dedicated contact line for vulnerable residents which can be reached on 020 7527 5000 or by emailing covidsupport@southwark.gov.uk

Lambeth Council’s dedicated line can be reached on 0333 360 3700. Lambeth residents can also access support by emailing mycommunity@ageuklambeth.org. Both helplines are open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

If you are in financial difficulty or in urgent need of food or housing, please do contact me at helen.hayes.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0207 219 6971, and I will do my best to refer you to local support.

What should I be doing to prevent the spread of the virus?

A:

Everyone is understandably concerned about the health of their friends and family at this time. It is crucial that we all continue to closely follow the guidance issued by Public Health England here in order to protect everyone who is vulnerable to Covid-19.

 

As you will be aware, the Government has ordered everyone to follow the Rule of 6 – and only to meet friends and family in groups of 6 or less in all settings. It is also important to continue following social distancing guidelines, maintaining a two metre distance between people, washing your hands regularly and wearing a face covering on public transport and in shops and hospitality venues and when otherwise asked to do so. This guidance is enforced by law and you can be fined for not following it. The full guidance, including exemptions can be found here.

 

As case numbers continue to rise in our area, the Government may decide that it is necessary to impose further restrictions. The Labour Party supports public health measures to reduce coronavirus spread, save lives and protect our NHS from becoming overwhelmed.

I have lost work due to the Covid-19 outbreak, what support is available for me?

A:

We are already seeing the catastrophic effects of the pandemic on our national and local economy. I welcome many of the urgent welfare reforms the Government has announced, but I believe they must be much more radical. There is an urgent need for flexible targeted support for the industries most at risk, such as the arts and hospitality, to save jobs. Full guidance for the Government’s current schemes can be found here

If you are a PAYE employee, the government has committed to contribute towards your salary if you work at least 33% of your usual hours. Your employer should discuss this with you if you are still on furlough and have been unable to return to work. If not, you should speak with your employer as soon as you can about this. If you have any difficulties with your employer or accessing the scheme please email me at helen.hayes.mp@parliament.uk

If you are self-employed, the Government has recently announced a limited extention to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. If you are continuing to actively trade but are facing reduced demand you will be able to claim a grant of up to 20% of your average monthly earnings for September to January, with details of a grant from February to April 2021 to be confirmed.

I welcome these measures but I remain concerned that there are some gaps which leave many constituents without support. This will provide no support for residents in industries which are unable to reopen or trade at the current time. I am continuing to raise these issues with the Treasury and will continue to call for loopholes to be addressed so that no worker is left without support. 

If you are unable to access these schemes, or awaiting payment through the self-employed scheme, the Government is advising you to apply for Universal Credit. I would encourage you to look at the Citizens Advice Bureau’s specialist guidance here. If your employer has contacted you to discuss redundancy or any changes to your pay or contracted hours, I would encourage you to contact ACAS for free independent advice here.  

Please do get in touch if you have any problems, and I will do my best to help.

What is happening locally?

A:

Both Lambeth Council and Southwark Councils are working hard to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The councils have set up response teams and are collaborating with the local CCGs and hospitals to ensure our area is prepared.

It has been heartening to see the growth of mutual aid groups across the constituency to support our most vulnerable residents. Both councils are supporting mutual aid groups and will be helping to co-ordinate efforts locally.  It is very important that all community-based support is organised with a proper regard for the safeguarding of vulnerable residents.

You can volunteer with Lambeth Council here

You can volunteer with Southwark Council here

I would also encourage you to volunteer with the NHS volunteer scheme here. This scheme will connect approved volunteers to vulnerable people.

Our local foodbanks are also coordinating their emergency response to the crisis. If you are able to, I would encourage you to donate to local foodbanks to help vulnerable people locally.

You can volunteer and donate to the West Norwood and Brixton Food Bank here

You can volunteer and donate to the Southwark Food Bank here

This situation is making me feel anxious, and I need some mental health support?

A:

For many people, the last few months have been very distressing and has left them feeling anxious and isolated. The uncertainty of the next few months is also causing considerable distress and anxiety for lots of people.  It is important to look after our mental health just as much as our physical health. It is a good idea to plan for a situation where you have to self-isolate again, thinking about how you will maintain contact with family and friends online and how you will access essentials.

Mind has published some very helpful advice on how to look after your mental wellbeing here.

YoungMinds also has some helpful guidance and contact details for mental health support here

If you are lonely and isolated, or struggling to access basic essentials, please email me at helen.hayes.mp@parliament.uk and I will do my best to put you in touch with someone who can help.