08 April 2020
Speech for Deputy Judy Martin, Chair of the Community Steering Group:
Keeping Islanders safe and well is our absolute focus during these unprecedented times.
I want to reassure Islanders about the wide range of help and information, which has been developed to support them.
We recognise that the Coronavirus pandemic brings about a wide range of needs and concerns, especially for vulnerable people.
Helping people who feel vulnerable is really important – whether they are elderly or young, disabled or have special needs.
But the community support we have developed is broader than that.
Working closely with the Parishes and voluntary and community organisations, we’ve developed Connect Me to support the whole Island.
We’re providing a range of information about the support that’s available.
For instance, we’re publicising which grocery shops are offering a delivery service, to help people who have to self-isolate, but are otherwise well and are able to support themselves.
We’re also providing hot meals and essential food to those who are finding it difficult to support themselves at this time.
For people with dogs who are unable to leave their homes at the moment, we’re organising dog walking.
And for people who are alone and feeling isolated, we’re organising for volunteers to telephone them for a regular chat.
Financial security is, of course, a huge concern for many Islanders and businesses.
That’s why we recently announced Jersey’s biggest-ever package of financial support.
We are ensuring that employees – and those who have sadly lost their jobs – can put food on the table, pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads.
And we’re ensuring that the businesses that have been most significantly impacted have financial breathing space to survive this emergency and retain and pay their staff.
I appreciate this doesn’t keep everyone in work, so, we are processing Income Support applications faster with a simple form.
And we’ve put financial support in place for people living in Jersey for less than five years, who would normally not be entitled to Income Support.
The most important message I want to share with Islanders today is how you can access information and help, if and when you need it.
We set up the Coronavirus helpline, 445566, in February to provide a single point of contact for anyone requiring help or information about Coronavirus-related issues.
To date, it has helped more than 12,000 callers.
I must take this opportunity to thank the many States workers who are working tirelessly to deliver this service.
But I also need to reiterate what the Chief of Police has said: please don’t call 999 unless it is a genuine medical, safety or fire emergency.
For information about Coronavirus, call 445566. For all types of benefits please call 444444.
We also have a lot of useful information and an online form to request help on the Government website, which can be found at gov.je/connectme.
Or ring your Parish Hall; they are supporting parishioners with a wide range of requests.
Finally, I want to thank everyone in the community, charitable and voluntary sector, the people who have come forward to volunteer their services, and those who are looking out for their neighbours.
You are showing the best of Jersey’s community spirit – whether you’re helping Islanders in need of practical support or offering a sympathetic ear and a friendly voice to those who are struggling through this period of isolation.
Thank you for your kindness and for your selflessness.
I’m now going to hand over to the St Helier Constable, Simon Crowcroft, who will explain more about how we’re all working together to support Islanders’ needs.
Speech for Constable of St Helier, Simon Crowcroft:
The Parishes have a long-established role in supporting their local communities and there’s not been a more important time in modern history for us all to pull together and help our neighbours.
For some, that simply means staying at home to protect islanders who are most at risk.
For others, it means going to the supermarket and getting not only your own shopping but shopping for a friend or neighbour who isn’t able to get out.
We continue to encourage those who can get to the supermarkets to do so, albeit as infrequently as possible, to free up home delivery slots for those who can’t leave the house and are dependent on these services.
We’re very fortunate that we have so many islanders who are raising their hand, offering to support others they’ve never met during this difficult period.
All the Parishes welcome volunteers new and old at this time.
Even if you need to be in isolation yourself, if you are well and want to, there are ways you can help.
From simply telephoning someone living alone and in need of conversation, to walking the dog of a islander who cannot leave the house.
The priority remains to keep everyone safe and whether you are shopping, exercising or volunteering, it’s essential that you adhere to the two-metre social distancing advice from the Government.
If you’re in any way unsure about this, information is available in a number of different languages on gov dot je slash coronavirus.
Sadly, we know that the current situation will put extra strain on people in various ways.
The Government’s commitment to Putting Children First remains front and centre, which is why the Children and Families Hub was created to provide support but also as a crisis line for anyone with concerns about the welfare of the child.
This hub can be contacted by telephoning 519000.
Helping the Government to match up the support available from volunteers with the needs of the Island, we’re very fortunate to have Malcolm Ferey on the Community Taskforce.
Malcolm brings a wealth of experience from his role as Chief Executive of Citizen’s Advice Jersey and he will explain more about how we’re working together to ensure islanders have the help they need.
Speech for Malcolm Ferey from the Community Taskforce:
It has been so heartening to see how many Islanders have come forward to volunteer to help others during this challenging time.
As the Minister said, it’s a real testament to our Island’s community spirit.
To ensure that this tremendous kindness reaches those who need it most, the Connect Me team are working in partnership with the all the Parishes and more than 130 voluntary and community organisations.
Our task is to match up the skills of our willing volunteers with needs of Islanders and with the charities which already exist to support our community, but who need more people to manage the current demand.
We’re also working in partnership with the Bosdet Foundation, whose volunteer.je website is ideal for ensuring that help from both individuals and businesses is deployed quickly and safely, where it’s needed most.
There are some great examples of where this is already happening, with volunteers helping to deliver critical services, through organisations such as the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels and Age Concern.
We currently have more than 2,800 people and more than 170 businesses offering time and support.
But we still want to grow this further.
We know that Coronavirus, and the issues it brings, is not going away next week, or even next month.
We need to be prepared to deliver sustainable support for as long as it is needed.
If the thousands who have come forward can do a little, it will go a long way.
To help new volunteers prepare for new roles, we’ve developed a toolkit with useful information and advice.
This, along with other information such as how to register as a volunteer, can be found on gov.je/connectme.
I’d like to close with one simple message: I urge all Islanders to consider what they can give to help others and to take only what they need for their households.
If we can all unite around this ethos, we will be well positioned to protect our community, not just today and for the weeks to come, but long into the future.