Food fund graphic

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, has welcomed confirmation that Paisley families unable to access food due to coronavirus will get support from the Scottish Government.

Local authorities are sharing £30 million of new investment from the Scottish Government Food Fund to support those struggling. 

Food fund graphic

Renfrewshire Council have been allocated £1.063 million from the fund, which is one part of the £350 million Communities Fund.

This funding will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions, and pregnant women.

Councils will have the flexibility to use this additional resource in ways that best meet emerging local needs and circumstances, working with community groups and businesses to support home delivery, provide financial help and meet dietary requirements.

 

Commenting, George Adam, said:

“Coronavirus has brought enormous disruption to all of our lives, and some people will be concerned about accessing food. This is a distressing enough time with families and friends separated and unable to visit loved ones without having to worry about food or where their next meal is coming from.

“This investment will help those in Paisley who are most at risk – such as older people and children eligible for free school meals – to access food through this unprecedented crisis. I hope this will go a long way in helping to ease one worry many families will have right now.

“Free school meals are vital for families across Paisley and are an important way of ensuring children receive the nutritious food they need. That is why it is so important that support continues while schools remain closed.  

“This is just one part of the support the Scottish Government is providing to individuals and businesses to protect jobs and incomes which we continue to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The £350 million Communities Fund was announced by Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell on 18 March 2020. 

Since it was announced, over £100 million of new support has been delivered to local authorities to assist their efforts. This includes £50 million in hardship funding, £22 million to bolster the Scottish Welfare Fund and £30 million from the Food Fund.

The guidance shared with local authorities outlines seven key principles to support local thinking about how funding can best be targeted and deployed. 

People worried about food during the COVID-19 crisis should therefore contact their local authority for further information on the help and support available to them.

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Glasgow Airport’s Long-stay Car Park is currently being transformed into a drive-thru mobile testing facility to support the country’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

glasgow-airport-logoThe 17-acre car park site based on Abbotsinch Road is part of a series of measures being introduced to increase testing and response to the spread of COVID-19.

The Glasgow Airport-based facility is being introduced to test frontline NHS staff only at this stage and those being asked to provide swab samples from Sunday onwards will do so by appointment only. The testing centre is not open to the public.

Due to be in operation from the afternoon on Sunday 5 April, the new testing centre will have up to five lanes and provide capacity for a greater number of COVID-19 tests each day. It will operate between 10am and 4:30pm from Monday.

Mark Johnston, Glasgow Airport’s managing director, said: “We are in regular contact with both the UK and Scottish Governments and have offered our facilities available to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Glasgow Airport has the space and infrastructure capable of accommodating a large-scale testing area and we are only too happy to support in this way. The impact of this virus affects us all and Glasgow Airport, the wider AGS Airports Ltd group and our people will continue to support the national effort to overcome COVID-19 and stand ready to help in any way we can.”

Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland said: “This new testing centre at Glasgow Airport, funded by the UK Government, will keep our frontline NHS staff doing the jobs they are trained to do. Allowing those who do not have the disease to go back to work and treat those who are most in need of care.

“This is part of the UK government’s plan to vastly expand our testing capacity as we continue to work around the clock and across the country to protect the vulnerable, support the NHS, and save lives.”

Last week, Glasgow and the wider AGS Airports Ltd group donated £40,000 to homeless charity Simon Community Scotland’s #GiveHope appeal. The funding is being used to support the purchase of hotel accommodation for people who are homeless where they will be able to stay in single rooms, allowing them to self-isolate if necessary whilst accessing the range of services offered by the Simon Community.

For the latest guidance on COVID-19 visit: www.nhsinform.scot 

If your company is looking for support during the coronavirus pandemic, Real Business Rescue have this business help centre

If your are looking for a clear picture of what government support may be available, Company Debt have built a useful page here.

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Residents are being encouraged to use a new service which will deliver essential food and medicine to those who have been advised to go into quarantine.

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Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has written to those considered most vulnerable to the effects of Coronavirus and outlined the requirement for them to be shielded for a twelve-week period.

Anyone who receives a letter should not leave their home at any time – not even for food, medicine or exercise.

Those being shielded can ask friends and family to deliver essentials to them, as long as they ensure they follow the social distancing guidance, or use online shopping or direct delivery from a pharmacy.

For those who do not have a support network that can collect food and medicine, Renfrewshire Council has set up a local helpline which will ensure everyone is provided with what they need.

Anyone who needs this support should call 0300 300 0230 to speak in confidence to an advisor or send a request online via www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/MyAccount.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “It’s important that we support those who need us most which is why we’ve created this helpline for people who are being shielded.

“We recognise how hard it will be for those affected, but it’s incredibly important that they follow the advice and do all they can to avoid contracting this disease.

“We want to ensure that we are there for them at all times so if you need this support, please call our helpline and one of the team will find out exactly what you need and outline how we will provide this for you.

“If you know someone else who may benefit, please let them know the number to call or get in contact with us – we want to ensure that everyone who needs this support can access it.

“These are unprecedented times so please continue to follow the latest health guidance, stay safe and look after each other wherever you can.”

Shielding is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus and includes people who’ve had solid organ transplants, certain cancers, or other conditions like cystic fibrosis and severe asthma.

To reduce the risk of them becoming infected, it asks the person to go into quarantine for the next 12 weeks and is different, more stringent advice than for the rest of the population at this time.

The Scottish Government are running a text-message service to keep in touch and send the latest updates to people who are shielding, with those who receive a letter asked to text 07860 064525 with their ten-digit CHI number found at the top of the letter.

For more information on shielding, and Coronavirus in general, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding.

Oakshaw green bins

Residents are being urged to recycle more than ever while the current government guidance is to remain at home wherever possible.

Bin collections in Renfrewshire are continuing to run as normal at this time (26 March), but the area’s recycling centres are currently closed.

Oakshaw green bins

With an expectation more waste will be created during this time, the council have offered a list of handy tips to help people reduce, reuse and recycle.

  • Wash and squash your cans, plastic bottles, tubs and trays – a good rinse is all you need to do.
  • Reuse any containers you can. They’re perfect for freezing any batch cooking.
  • Break down cardboard boxes to save space.
  • If you run out of food waste bags, use old newspaper or put it in directly until you can get more.
  • Visit lovefoodhatewaste.com for advice on how to avoid wasting food, using up those ingredients that are stuck in your cupboard and how to store it correctly.
  • The council website has a list of what should and should not go into each bin, do you know what goes where?

Residents are asked to ensure that parked cars do not obstruct collection vehicles to ensure that waste can be uplifted.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “This is an unprecedented time with everyone advised to stay at home unless it is essential that they leave for food, medical issues or to work in a key role.

“Being at home, you are going to create more waste than normal so I would encourage you to take recycling more seriously than ever to ensure you have the space you need in your bins.

“Our waste collections are running as normal at this time, but we need your support to help our fantastic frontline workers do their job so please be patient and show understanding for the position they are in.

“Our teams have been given the appropriate advice and PPE to carry out their role in line with government guidance and I want to thank them for the outstanding service they are providing at this time.

“To all our staff, partners, Unison, RHSCP, health workers and volunteers, thank you on behalf of us all on the way you have risen to the challenge in these difficult times.

“Let’s keep working together and show the strength of community that I know we have here in Renfrewshire.”

For the latest advice and guidance on Coronavirus, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus or follow the council on Twitter via @RenCouncil.

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Issued on behalf of Renfrewshire Child Protection Committee.

 

With the closure of schools and nurseries during the Covid-19 outbreak, a national child protection group is urging everyone to keep their eyes and ears open for children who may be at risk during this time.

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Child Protection Committees Scotland, a national grouping of child protection professionals, supports all efforts by the Scottish Government, local authorities and the third sector to keep children safe from harm during the enforced break in normal routine.

John Paterson, Independent Chair of Renfrewshire Child Protection Committee, recognises the impact a significant change in day-to-day life may have on vulnerable children.

“Schools and nurseries in Renfrewshire play a central role in contributing to the safety of all local children, especially those who may be at risk of abuse and neglect. When children are not at school we lose the ability to monitor their wellbeing on a daily basis, and we are making every effort possible to support those children and families who may need it during these demanding times.”

However, Renfrewshire Child Protection Committee stresses the need for the public to join efforts to protect potentially vulnerable children during the Coronavirus outbreak. John Paterson urges everyone to play a part to keep local children safe.

“The onus of care has now shifted from schools to local communities, and we’re asking everyone to keep their eyes and ears open. Local people always provide a significant protective factor for children and that’s even more important at a time when families may be under significant additional stress. If you’re at all worried about a child’s welfare, it’s much better to say something than do nothing.”

Renfrewshire Council urges everyone to take action if they’re concerned about a child or children. If you’re worried don’t hesitate to contact Social Work Services – 0300 300 1199 or call the police on 101.

https://twitter.com/buses_mcgills/status/1240951410059030528?s=21

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Changes to S4-S6 process for exams

Statement from Steven Quinn, Director of Children’s Services

Following the statement by the First Minister today, we are currently asking all S4-S6 pupils not to attend school. The health and wellbeing of our communities, our pupils and our staff is our priority.

I understand the concern this will be causing our pupils and their parents and carers at this time.

I want to reassure you that we are doing everything possible to support our young people in ensuring that they gain the grades in their exams that they have worked so hard for. Your child’s school will be in touch over the next few days to offer greater clarity on the arrangements that will be put in place to best support them.

Thank you for your patience and continued support. We will work together to ensure our young people are not disadvantaged.

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Which schools and nurseries are providing childcare?

The most recent advice issued by the Scottish Government is that schools and council-run nurseries should close other than for specified groups. These groups are as follows:

– children whose parents have been designated as essential workers

– the children and young people deemed most vulnerable or in need of support. The parents or carers of these individuals will be contacted directly by their school or nursery.

Pupils in S4-S6 should not attend school. Any pupils that need to complete coursework will be contacted by their school.

We are following Scottish Government directives and trying to strike a balance between respecting the health advice designed to stop the spread of the virus, while still supporting those most in need, allowing the frontline staff providing lifeline services to do so, and allowing older pupils the best possible chance of getting the qualifications they hoped for.

The following locations will be open to provide childcare for the children of essential workers who we can accommodate:

  • West Primary School in Paisley (primary only)
  • West Johnstone shared campus (primary and nursery)
  • St James’ Primary campus in Renfrew (primary and Moorpark nursery)
  • Hugh Smiley Early Learning and Childcare Centre in Paisley (nursery only)
  • Riverbrae School in Linwood (for ASN children)

School and nursery staff will be in on Monday 23 March and pupils will be able to attend from Tuesday 24 March. Schools and nurseries will be open each week from 9am until 3pm Monday to Friday for the time being. We are looking at the possibility of having them open until later in the day but cannot offer that at this stage. All children attending schools and nurseries from next week will receive a free school meal.

Following the latest guidance from the Scottish Government, pupils in S4-S6 should not attend school.

We plan to open secondary schools to provide childcare for eligible pupils in secondary school and older primary school pupils. We are currently working through these plans and we will confirm which schools we will be open as soon as we are able.


When will I hear if I have a childcare place?

Families who applied by 9am on Saturday morning are being contacted on Sunday 22 March to let them know if we can provide a childcare place or if we can’t at this time. The good news is we have been able to accommodate more than 1,300 children. For those who we could not accommodate we are sorry we can’t do more to help during what we know is a challenging time for working parents. We know some parents will be disappointed but we have to prioritise to those who need it most.

Our capacity to offer childcare to the families of key workers is limited by the number of available staff and by the need to ensure a safe level of social distancing for pupils. Demand for this service has far exceeded the capacity available, thus we have had to prioritise within the essential criteria, in line with government advice.

There are some families who we hope to be able to offer a place to later in the week but we cannot guarantee this. Those families have been contacted to make them aware and we will be in touch on Tuesday to confirm. Our staff are doing all we can to put this service in place at short notice and react to extremely fast-moving and unprecedented circumstances. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

So far we have only been able to consider applications received by 9am on Saturday. If you applied after that point we will be in touch on Tuesday to let you know if we can accommodate. If you believe you meet the criteria and haven’t applied you can still do so via this link.

Key workers

Please be aware we are now at capacity so we won’t be able to accommodate at this time. If more places can be made available we would consider your application then.

Can you appeal if you don’t get a childcare place?

We have accommodated as many people as we can. If you believe your application was wrongly rejected, email education@renfrewshire.gov.uk and we will consider whether you could be accommodated if more capacity becomes available.

What about pupil transport?

We are afraid we cannot offer school transport to the schools and nurseries that are open, given these arrangements are being put in place at such short notice. Parents who have a place at a school or nursery will need to make their own transport arrangements for the time being.


Where can I get more information?

Parents will be kept informed through their school and your child’s school will advise you on how they will keep in touch with you in due course. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered in this email, visit our FAQs on our school information webpage.

School information

For the latest updates and information from us, follow our Twitter account @RenCouncil and visit our website.

@RenCouncil

Coronavirus advice

For the latest health advice, visit the NHS inform website.

NHS inform


Advice and information for our staff

Our staff can visit our staff information section of website to find out the latest information and advice.

Staff information

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Who can still attend school and nursery?

The advice issued by the Scottish Government is that schools and council-run nurseries should close other than for specified groups. These groups are as follows:

– all pupils in S4-6 who still have coursework to complete

– children whose parents have been designated as essential workers

– the children and young people deemed most vulnerable or in need of support. The parents or carers of these individuals will be contacted directly by their school or nursery.

We are following Scottish Government directives and trying to strike a balance between respecting the health advice designed to stop the spread of the virus, while still supporting those most in need, allowing the frontline staff providing lifeline services to do so, and allowing older pupils the best possible chance of getting the qualifications they hoped for.

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Which schools will be open and when?

All 11 Renfrewshire secondary schools will be open for S4-6 pupils to complete coursework. High schools will also be open to provide childcare for eligible pupils in S1 to 3 and older primary school pupils.

The following locations will be open to provide childcare for the children of essential workers who we can accommodate:

  • West Primary in Paisley (primary and nursery)
  • West Johnstone campus (primary and nursery)
  • St James’ Primary in Renfrew (primary and nursery)
  • Hugh Smiley Nursery in Paisley (nursery only)
  • Riverbrae School in Linwood (respite care only)

School staff will be in on Monday 26 March and pupils will be able to attend from Tuesday 27 March. Schools will be open from 9am until 3pm for the time being. We are looking at the possibility of having them open until later in the day but cannot offer that at this stage. All children attending schools from next week will receive a free school meal.

I’m an essential worker and I haven’t applied

We have already written to all parents and carers to identify who could be eligible to invite them to apply for a place. You can still apply in the link below.

Register interest

We have already had a huge number of requests and hope people appreciate capacity is limited we will have to prioritise, in line with Government advice. We cannot accommodate everyone as that will defeat the purpose of closing. We know some parents will be disappointed but we need to concentrate on the families who need it most.

We will be working over weekend and will be in touch to let you know if your child has a place as soon as possible. We are having to turn around a huge amount of work in a short space of time and we appreciate your patience while we do this.


How will children learn at home?

Many of our teachers will be working from home and will be keeping lessons going via online learning. Our schools have done an incredible job to pull together materials to let this happen.

We will be using Glow to facilitate this as it allows pupils to work in a variety of ways, including with their peers and at their own pace. It is free to all pupils and can be accessed anywhere, any time and on any device.

Pupils will be given homework tasks assigned by their teacher and should work to complete these at home. Here’s where to find the information.

Glow – sign in

Your child was given their log in details at the beginning of the school year and in the last week. If you have problems logging in, please email your school directly.

Here is where to find support on how to use certain apps within Glow:

Pupils should follow the Acceptable Use Policy for using digital platforms at all times. For a reminder of this policy, please contact your school.

Anyone who does not have internet access should let the school know as soon as possible and alternative arrangements will be made for these pupils to receive a homework pack. If your school uses an alternative ICT solution such as Seesaw or Sumdog, please contact them directly.


More questions on childcare and support

Will free school meals/clothing grants still be provided?

Free school meals will be provided for the children in the groups who are attending school for coursework (S4 – S6) or childcare.

Parents of children who qualify for a clothing grant will receive fortnightly payment direct to their bank account of £11.25 per child per week. These payments will continue over the Easter holidays and for as long as schools remain closed, even if over the summer.

Are private nurseries still open?

Private nurseries will decide for themselves if they will choose to stay open. The directive from the Scottish Government is that they should refocus their operations to looking after the children of critical workers and those families most in need of support. Please speak to your private provider for more information on what they are offering.

Is out of school care still on?

All out-of-school care run by the council or in a council building is now closed. Private providers who operate from a non-council building may still be open and parents should contact them directly to find out more information.


Mental health and wellbeing

There has been a lot of coverage in the media and social media about the Coronavirus and it is easy to feel everyone to feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious.

Our Education Psychology team have pulled together some advice on how to help children cope with the current situation, and we’ve included a link to Young Scot’s advice for young people.

Mental wellbeing


Where can I get more information?

Parents will be kept informed through their school and your child’s school will advise you on how they will keep in touch with you in due course. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered in this email, visit our FAQs on our school information webpage.

School information

For the latest updates and information from us, follow our Twitter account @RenCouncil and visit our website.

@RenCouncil

Coronavirus advice

For the latest health advice, visit the NHS inform website.

NHS inform


Advice and information for our staff

Our staff can visit our staff information section of website to find out the latest information and advice.

Staff information

bioris johnstone

20th March 2020 Update, Benefit help and Wages help unprecedented in this country’s history.

 

Lots of help with Wages and benefits please watch for full information.

Government to pay up to 80% of wages in coronavirus outbreak

Rishi Sunak announces scheme offering up to £2,500 a month to those not working

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced the government will pay the wages of British workers to keep them in jobs as the coronavirus outbreak escalates.

In an unprecedented step, Sunak said the state would pay grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers kept on by companies, up to a total of £2,500 per month, just above the median income.

Coming just days after announcing a £350bn bailout package of loans and government grants to help businesses cope with the lockdown of large parts of the economy, the chancellor said his plan was one of the most comprehensive in the world and “unprecedented in British history”.

“We are starting a great national effort to protect jobs,” he said. “It’s on all of us.”

Sunak said there would be no limit on the funding available to pay people’s wages.

The government is also deferring the next quarter of VAT payments, which is the equivalent of injecting another £30bn into the economy and is designed to help companies stay afloat.

Sunak was speaking alongside Boris Johnson at the daily Downing Street press conference after schools shut to most children until further notice. The prime minister said the measures were intended to be temporary, as part of a “joint objective” between people and the government to beat the disease.

“We will do everything in our power to help. Supporting you directly in a way that government has never done before, in addition to the package we have already set out for business,” Johnson said.

The government has come under mounting pressure in recent days to do more to support ordinary people after taking unprecedented steps to help businesses through the worst of the outbreak. Growing numbers of UK firms are teetering on the brink of collapse amid the lockdown measures, threatening widespread job losses as demand for goods and services evaporates.

Pressure had been mounting on the chancellor to introduce a universal basic income – guaranteed regular payments from the state – to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus with 150 MPs demanding the step was taken to support people across the country. There had also been calls to emulate US plans to hand American citizens direct cash payments worth more than $1,000 (£852) as part of a stimulus package worth more than $1tn.

The government has been forced to revise its approach to tackling the Covid-19 outbreak on a daily basis as the increasing severity of the health pandemic and damage to the economy unfolds.

Economists at Deutsche Bank forecast the British economy could suffer the worst recession for a century – outstripping the 2008 financial crisis – with millions of workers losing their jobs and the unemployment rate doubling.

Sunak had initially earmarked £12bn in last week’s budget to soften the impact of the Covid-19 health pandemic, although the chancellor was rapidly forced to come back with fresh measures, while promising to do “whatever it takes” to see the UK through the crisis.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT-LOGO-2011

Published: 19 Mar 2020 

Exams will not go ahead, teaching, learning and support can continue with local flexibility.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT-LOGO-2011

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has updated Parliament on the decision to close schools and confirmed that:

  • the exam diet will not go ahead this year. The Scottish Qualifications Authority will put in place a certification model using coursework, teacher assessment of estimated grades and prior attainment
  • local authorities are taking measures to protect vulnerable children who rely on schools for hot meals or a safe and supportive environment
  • children of key workers will have continuing access to learning or childcare

Mr Swinney said:

“My priorities are to ensure the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff, and to maintain teaching and learning wherever this is possible, guided by the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and public health experts.

“Teaching, learning and support will continue – albeit in different ways for different groups of children. For the majority, this will be through distance learning and online learning, with different forms of on-going contact with teachers rather than in-school, face-to-face. Teachers and other staff who are well will continue to be working.

“For vulnerable children and those who have parents or carers employed as key workers, local authorities are developing approaches to support them. We will not cut adrift vulnerable young people who often rely on school life for hot meals or for a safe, nurturing and supportive environment.

“Parents are not expected to be a teacher or to recreate the school day – your school will be giving you some resources and suggestions as your first port of call.

“It is a measure of the gravity of the challenge we now face that the exams will not go ahead this year. With the support of the wider education system, a credible certification model can be put in place in the that can command confidence in the absence of the exam diet – to ensure that young people in our schools and colleges who through no fault of their own are unable to sit exams, are not disadvantaged.”

Background

The Deputy First Minister’s statement in full.

The SQA will develop a certification model to replace the exam diet. Pupils in S4-S6 with coursework for national qualifications to complete will be informed by their schools how to complete this.

Local authorities will put in place appropriate arrangements to support vulnerable children and those who have parents or carers employed as key workers – this may include exceptional provision to continue to attend school or local childcare that the local authority put in place. Those with complex additional support needs who are learning and living in residential special schools will continue to receive the care and support they require and any long-term health conditions will be taken into account.

Local authorities are also being encouraged to work with local childcare providers in the private and third sectors to ensure ongoing provision to enable key workers to remain in work. Funding will continue to allow contractual payments to private and third sector providers, including childminders, for statutory early learning and childcare hours to continue. This is worth £220 million to the childcare sector in 2020-21.

A £70 million food fund from the support package for communities announced yesterday will support access to food, including provision of free school meals. Pupil Equity Funding will be relaxed to allow headteachers and local authorities to support the most vulnerable childrens’ needs during this time.

Local authorities can deploy the 2020-21 uplift in funding for the 1140 hours expansion as flexibly as is needed to support families and childcare providers during this period.

Key workers are those who work in posts which ensure that essential services can be delivered, or those who cover tasks within the local community which support the vulnerable and aid community resilience. The exact definition will vary based on local needs.

The Student Awards Agency Scotland will endeavour to continue to fund students on time, and students will be updated throughout. The Further and Higher Education Minister is working closely with the Scottish Funding Council, college and university principals and unions.