NEW News from Merton Council
The increase in both symptomatic and symptom free testing is a big step forward in the fight against the pandemic, but testing is only the first step, people must self-isolate to stop the spread.
Please do your part to stop the spread by self-isolating immediately if:
- you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste). Please book a test immediately gov.uk/coronavirus or call 119
- you’ve tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus (self-isolate for 10 days)
- someone you live with has symptoms or has tested positive (self-isolate for 10 days and see if you develop symptoms – if so, get tested)
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms and you’ve been in close contact with them since their symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started
- someone in your support bubble tested positive and you’ve been in close contact with them since they had the test or in the 48 hours before their test
- you’ve been told that you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive – find out what to do if you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app
- you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk – see GOV.UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK
If you self-isolate you must stay at home, you cannot:
- go out to work
- go shopping
- go out to exercise
- go out with members of your household or meet anyone else
If you are struggling financially, please don’t avoid getting a test if you have symptoms. If you need to isolate, we can help you – we’ve paid £65,000 to help residents so far.
It’s critical that you fill in the form properly – more than half the applications we receive are incomplete and cannot be processed. However, if you are eligible and you let us know your details, we will be able to cover your £500 isolation payment.
Please remember that you are breaking the law if you don’t self-isolate when one of the following applies:
- you test positive for coronavirus
- the NHS tell you to self-isolate because you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus – this doesn’t include being told by the NHS COVID-19 app
- your school tells you to self-isolate because you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus
If you break the law, the police could fine you £1,000. If you’ve been fined for not self-isolating before they can fine you up to £10,000.
If you or someone you know needs support while isolating please contact our Merton COVID-19 Community Response Hub between 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday on: 020 8685 2272 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re looking for young people aged 18–30 years-old to join our Young Adults COVID-19 Community Champions group. This is just one part of Merton’s overall approach to managing and responding to COVID-19 outbreaks. Want to join us? Here’s what you’ll get:
- The latest information on COVID-19 from the NHS and Merton Public Health so that you can share clear and consistent messages with your family, friends or colleagues
- The chance to feedback on challenges or misinformation and shape how we respond to COVID-19 in Merton
- Opportunities to work with the voluntary sector and raise awareness of the importance of following the COVID-19 restrictions
- Experience related to the pandemic which you can put on your C.V
- The opportunity to share your experiences of COVID-19 and how it has affected you and your loved ones
The group is free to join. Please send your email expressing your interest to: email@example.com
Are you aged 13 – 17yrs? We will be launching the under 18’s COIVD-19 Young Champions in February, watch this space for further details.
It is estimated that one in three people do not display symptoms if they have COVID-19, so testing for people with no symptoms will identify those who unknowingly have the virus. As infection rates rise significantly, every local authority is looking to launch local rapid testing centres to try to contain the spread of the virus and test as many people as possible. Rapid testing (both targeted and for the wider community) allows us find the virus among our residents, and – through self-isolation – stop people from spreading the virus. It will also help give us a more accurate picture of the number of cases in Merton.
Asymptomatic testing is different from other testing because you don’t need coronavirus symptoms to book a test and you should get the result within half an hour. It will help pick up more cases and help to stop the spread of the virus. If you test positive you MUST self-isolate and immediately book to have a PCR test to confirm your positive result through the GOV.UK site.
As the vaccination rollout will take a number of months; rapid testing and self-isolation is our best defence against the virus until widespread vaccination is in place.
However, getting a Covid-19 test does fall within the list of acceptable activities under national guidance, and we are also proactively urging all carers, key workers and volunteers to get a test.
You can book a test online through the council website. If you do not know someone who can book a test for you, you can call us on 020 8274 5210 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and we can help. Please remember that although the LFD test will pick up most infections, a negative result does not completely rule out COVID-19. Even if you receive a negative test, you must still follow the national lockdown guidance and stay at home as much as possible.Key workers, volunteers and carers
For key workers, volunteers and carers, the rapid testing will be carried out by a network of up to 40 community pharmacies, where you will attend a short appointment, self-administer swabs under supervision of pharmacy staff, and you can either wait while the result comes through (around 30 minutes) or receive the result by text message from the national portal. These tests are only for people who are NOT displaying symptoms - if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should visit GOV.UK to arrange a PCR test
As we face new restrictions and a national lockdown, there is no doubt the pandemic is at a new height and getting it under control is of vital importance as we roll out vaccinations. For many, 2020 will have been the hardest year in memory; hundreds of people across the borough have dealt with huge personal losses, and thousands more have gone for long periods of time without seeing loved ones.
I want to thank everyone who pulled together so much last year to help those in need, and who highlighted the incredible kindness and community spirit of Merton residents and organisations during these challenging times. You have all shown that Merton is a great place and a truly great community.
Whether you were part of our Merton Together campaign, or supporting vulnerable people, delivering hot meals, helping at food banks, or are part of our amazing voluntary sector – such as the Merton Community Hub – we simply couldn’t have got through 2020 without your incredible dedication.
Sadly, this virus is still with us as we begin 2021, and infection rates in Merton and across the nation are worryingly high. Due to the high infection rates, the Prime Minister announced this week that England will enter another lockdown period from now until the end of March.
This is tough news to hear, but it’s important to remember it does not mean we are back at square one. The COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out as fast as possible across Merton, so when you are called by the NHS, please do take the vaccine to protect yourself and others.
We also have some Rapid 30-minute COVID-19 tests (lateral flow tests) available for all Merton residents with no symptoms and additional rapid testing for key workers, carers and volunteers with no symptoms. Simply visit our website and book yourself a lateral flow test. If you DO have symptoms you must isolate immediately and book a test as soon as possible through the GOV.UK website.
Finally, I’d like to thank all the volunteers who have enabled us to get our community testing site at Morden Assembly Hall up and running so quickly this week, with Christmas not slowing their efforts, so that we can now offer more testing for those with no symptoms which will enable people to isolate when needed and help us supress this virus until the vaccine is widely available.
We remain in this fight together and I urge you all to stay at home and play your part in keeping Merton safe. I wish you a better and safer 2021.
Thanks and stay safe, Mark Allison, Leader of Merton Council
Residents are being encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle this Christmas to help prevent a season of waste, by Merton Council and its recycling and waste partner Veolia. Recycling and rubbish collection days are changing over the festive season, so residents are being urged to check which days their bins and boxes will be emptied.
Across the UK, people are expected to produce 30%* more waste this Christmas than at any other time of the year – that’s an extra three million tonnes. The increase in food shopping, plus gift buying, results in almost a third more waste being collected in December and January than at any other time of the year. Over a billion cards will be sent; 227,000 miles of wrapping paper will be used and 17.2 million sprouts will be thrown in the bin.
However, planning ahead can help make celebrations more sustainable. Here are a few simple ways to reduce the amount being thrown away, while saving money too:
- Spread festive cheer online: E-cards and e-vouchers can brighten a loved one’s day, without generating any waste. Residents can purchase them online from the safety of their home and avoid unnecessary paper waste whilst sending virtual merriness.
- Online shopping: If you are buying presents online, placing one order per store will reduce packaging waste. Some of this, for example, bubble wrap and polystyrene, cannot be recycled. Fewer deliveries will also reduce the number of vehicles on the road, easing traffic congestion and decreasing the amount of harmful emissions that have a detrimental effect on air quality.
- Menu planning: 70% of Britons admit that they buy far more food than they need over the festive period. Plan what you are going to eat in advance to prevent buying too much. If you have over-ordered, most foods can be frozen if the use by date has not passed.
Preventing unnecessary waste over the festive period is essential to reducing Merton’s environmental impact. However, where waste is unavoidable, residents are encouraged to make full use of their recycling service, to help preserve precious resources.
Check your recycling and rubbish collection days. These will be changing in Merton throughout the festive season.
Please avoid having a clear out over the holidays, which is the busiest time for our hardworking collection crews. The council’s Merton Together campaign has highlighted the efforts of crews to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on vital services for residents, keeping recycling and rubbish collection services going throughout the pandemic.
The Household Reuse and Recycling Centre in Garth Road, Morden, will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. On Christmas Eve it will be open between 8am-midday. On all other days, opening hours are 8am-4pm. Advance booking is essential for weekday visits, Merton Council’s website: merton.gov.uk/recycling
After the festivities, residents are urged to recycle as much as possible from their homes:
- Cardboard boxes: Flatten them before putting them in your blue-lidded wheelie bin to make more space. If you scrunch your wrapping paper up and it stays in a ball, it can be recycled too.
- Food waste: Don’t let your leftovers go to waste. Try out new recipes to eat up food which is leftover from the celebrations. Put peelings and plate scrapings into your food waste caddy or compost them at home.
- Glass bottles and aluminum cans: Put these into your green and purple boxes, so they can be recycled into new items.
- Christmas trees: We will collect real Christmas trees free of charge. After you have removed all the decorations, place your tree as close to the boundary of your property as possible, without blocking the pavement. All trees must be out by 6am on Monday 18 January, or they will not be collected.
- Batteries: Please do not put batteries in household recycling or rubbish bins. Place them in a small untied bag next to your recycling bin for collection or recycle them at the supermarket or at the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre in Garth Road, Morden.
If you or someone living with you has coronavirus or is waiting for their test result, please dispose of your rubbish safely.
Store personal waste, such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths in disposable rubbish bags. Place these bags into a second bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. These bags should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being out in your usual external general waste bin.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces, Councillor Natasha Irons, said: “The festive season can be costly for our environment, as well as our pockets. Planning what gifts and food we need and buying items with less packaging will help to reduce the amount we throw away and the cost of Christmas.
“Just like Santa, Christmas is the busiest time of the year for our collection crews, who have worked tirelessly during this unprecedented year, which has seen levels of waste during a month of lockdown equivalent to those usually seen in December.
“Our Merton Together campaign has highlighted the gratitude we all have to the crews for keeping vital collection services running throughout the pandemic. Christmas is an extra challenge for our hard working crews, so please help them by checking when to put your recycling and rubbish out for collection. As this difficult year draws to a close, we wish everyone a safe and sustainable Christmas.”
Veolia’s SLWP General Manager, Scott Edgell said: “Christmas is a time where we all tend to create a bit more waste than usual, so it’s vital that Merton residents reduce, reuse and recycle this festive season. We hope that our tips remind people of the small things they can do to celebrate more sustainably, which makes Christmas all the more special. After a tough year, we’d like to extend our best (sustainable!) season’s greetings to you all.”
For further information on what you can recycle in each container, changes to your recycling and rubbish collection days over the festive season and to download a collections calendar for your property, please visit merton.gov.uk/recycling
For more tips on having a sustainable Christmas, visit www.veolia.co.uk/london/Christmas
Covid-19 is spreading fast in Merton
Following a rapid increase in Covid-19 infections across the borough, Merton has, with the rest of London, moved into Tier 4 – the new highest level of Covid-19 restrictions.
This means our celebrations over the festive period now need to be at home, with just our household members – and the one person who is in our support bubble if we have one and would otherwise be on their own.
I fully understand this is devastating for many – it will affect thousands of families’ hopes of seeing loved ones, cause concern for anyone who is vulnerable or isolated, and hit our local businesses hard yet again. It is a bitter blow for everyone.
But this virus is still taking lives in our borough every week – more than 200 people have died in Merton since the start of the pandemic, and infection rates are starting to rise again.
I am therefore writing to ask that we all do everything possible to keep Merton safe. It is vital we all follow the “Hands, Face, Space” guidance – and that we get a test locally if we develop any Covid-19 symptoms.
The new rules in Merton mean:
- We must stay home unless making essential journeys
- All non-essential shops and close contact businesses, including hairdressers, nail salons and gyms in the borough will close
- People should work from home if they can
- No mixing of households allowed indoors
- No overnight stays outside your household or support bubble in Tier 4
- We should not travel outside of your local Tier 4 area
- We are allowed to meet one other person outdoors
If you, or anyone you know, are isolated and at risk as a result of these changes, the council has been working closely with local volunteers to provide a Merton Covid-19 Community Response Hub. Staff at the Hub will help with shopping and prescriptions, advice and support to stay independent. Call 020 8685 2272, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at http://www.mvsc.co.uk/coronavirussupport for details.
How to get a test locally
If you have symptoms of Covid-19, you must get tested. These symptoms are:
- a high temperature
- a new continuous cough, and
- a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste.
To book a test visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms or call 119.
If you test positive, you will need to give your details to those who are tracing your contacts. You can call our local Merton case tracing team on 020 8274 5722.
You can stay informed about changes locally by visiting www.merton.gov.uk/coronavirus, which will always have the latest rules and guidance.
Please visit this website as this is where you can sign up for regular email updates, which will help us stay in touch with you if there is further news.
I know these are incredibly difficult times for everyone. This virus has tested us but it has also brought out the best in our community – the way we have come together and supported each other has been a source of enormous pride to me. This is a great borough, and you have helped make it so.
Thank you for your support, and please have a safe holiday season.
Cllr Mark Allison, Leader of the Council
London Borough of Merton
First-team managers at Tooting & Mitcham United FC (TMUFC), Ashley Bosah and Cornelius Nwadialor, have been commended by the London Borough of Merton for their work in providing role models for young people and helping to bridge the social gap in the borough.
The pair, who were this month recognised along with England forward Marcus Rashford in the annual “Black List” of influential black sporting role models, dedicate their time to not only running the first team at the club, but also in developing young players in the youth academy of more than 70 young hopefuls.
The recognition from the council is as much for the work they do beyond the touchline as on it. As a local community club in a disadvantaged part of London, TMUFC offers much more than football to young players. It offers stability, role models and a chance for young people in the area to determine their own path.
The academy, which is home-from-home to more than 70 boys up to the age of 18, is run very much as a family, with boys unable to compete on the pitch unless they have completed any homework, club or education tasks they have been given.
In return, Ashley and Cornelius regularly go the extra mile, being there to support the boys both on and off the pitch, helping guide them towards a stable path, giving advice and guidance, and encouraging them to be the best they can.
Additionally, the club offers the best incentive of all – the prospect of success in the upper leagues. Past academy graduates include Samuel Folarin and Isaiah Jones, both of whom have just signed new contracts at Middlesbrough FC, as well as Hady Ghandour of Charlton FC and Michail Antonio of West Ham United.
Other former players who came from tough backgrounds have also opted to go onto achieve university degrees in business, finance and psychology as a result of the education they received at the club. Next year, TMUFC hopes to launch a degree course in-house for players.
Mark Allison, Leader of Merton Council, said: “Tooting & Mitcham is more than a football club; I’ve seen several times the work they do in the community with young players, and to be able to recognise the work Ashley and Cornelius do was as much an honour for us as for them; this is what they do day in, day out, and the difference they make is profound.
“The Council has always been proud that one of our top priorities is to bridge the social gap in the borough, and to support and recognise those who help to achieve that.
“There are more than 70 boys in the borough who are getting expert training, a future and education, and a stable environment because of the work the club does. We’re delighted to be able to recognise their work.”
Co-Manager Ashley Bosah commented: “With being recognised on the Black List and then having our work recognised locally by the council, it’s been a pretty amazing month.
“The work we do off the pitch is every bit as important as the work the boys do on it. Our lads are often not from the more privileged backgrounds that some of their opponents have enjoyed, and helping develop them as young individuals is every bit as much of what we do as what happens when the match kicks off.
“Seeing them grow, develop, and succeed – whether it’s with a league club or going off to achieve at university, is an amazing experience.”
Cornelius added: “It’s fantastic that the work everyone at TMUFC does is being recognised, both nationally and locally. It feels like one big family here, and it’s great to see the club get recognition for the non-football side of things, which is just as important as what happens on the pitch.”
Merton Council is extending its funding for food, for children who qualify for free school meals, during the Christmas break to include pre-school children.
Food vouchers worth £40 are to be provided for around 8,000 Merton children, to ensure no child goes hungry over the two-week Christmas school holiday.
Merton Council has now launched its Covid-19 Winter Grant scheme which builds upon footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign, to fund lunches during the school holidays for children who rely on free school meals. The council has extended the funding to cover pre-school children, who would qualify for free school meals, as well as care leavers who are living independently and young carers.
Families with pre-school children need to complete a short claim form online. Details on eligibility and access to the claim form can be found on the council’s website here
There is no need for families with only school-age children to do anything as all state schools in Merton will be providing a £40 voucher for each eligible child before the end of term. If your child is attending a school outside the borough, the arrangements may differ, but reciprocal arrangements have been agreed between London boroughs.
The £40 for the Christmas fortnight-long holiday is higher than the £15 a week, the council offered to reimburse schools for during the October half-term, in recognition of the additional expenses many families have to cover in this period.
Following the campaign championed by Marcus Rashford, Merton has been awarded £476,193 from the Government’s Covid Winter Grants scheme. In addition to funding meals for children, the council is to award £30,000 in grant funding for the Christmas period towards projects which have been distributing food to those in need across the borough.
Joint Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, said: “We are particularly pleased to be able to extend our funding, to provide food for children in need during the Christmas break, to pre-school children, care leavers who live independently and young carers. No child or young person in Merton should go hungry over Christmas. Eating a healthy lunch is of vital importance to all children’s well-being and development, and this scheme contributes to our commitment to bridge the gap between the most disadvantaged children in the borough and their peers.
“We have decided to increase the weekly rate to £20 over the Christmas fortnight in recognition of the additional costs families face at this time. We are committed to ensuring that no Merton families will be struggling to feed their children this winter.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
For more information on Merton’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme visit: www.merton.gov.uk/covidwintergrant
Merton Council is challenging the decision by the Health Secretary not to order a full independent review into plans to close the accident and emergency department and consultant-led maternity services at St Helier Hospital.
The council has written to Matt Hancock, challenging his decision to accept the advice of the Independent Configuration Panel (IRP) not to carry out a full review of plans to downgrade St Helier Hospital because Mr Hancock gave no reasons for his decision and failed to take the need to reduce health inequalities into account.
The council is also challenging the independence of the IRP chairman, Professor Sir Norman Williams, whose advice formed the basis of Mr Hancock’s decision. Sir Norman was until recently a non-executive director of the St George’s Trust, which initially opposed the proposals to locate the specialist emergency care hospital in Belmont, but eventually supported the scheme on the basis that St George’s Hospital was provided with significant funding.
If the Secretary of State does not change his mind and allow a full review to be carried out by the IRP, the council intends to start legal proceedings for a judicial review.
The IRP carried out an initial review, following a request made by the council to Mr Hancock. This followed approval by the NHS Committees in Common of the South West London and Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Groups of a business case to reconfigure health services at St Helier, Epsom and Sutton hospitals. Their plans would make Belmont, which is 1.5 miles south of Sutton town centre, the preferred location for a specialist emergency care hospital, resulting in services being downgraded at St Helier Hospital, which is 1.5 miles north of Sutton town centre and also on the boundary of Merton, but is crucially in an area of far greater health needs. Merton has long argued that the greatest consideration in any reconfiguration should be the impact it will have on health inequalities.
The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “We have serious concerns about how the decision was reached not to carry out a full review of plans to downgrade St Helier Hospital. In particular, the Health Secretary gave no reasons for reaching this conclusion and it is clear that a number of factors have not been properly taken into account.
“We have therefore written to Mr Hancock, inviting him to reconsider his decision, and if he does not, the council will initiate legal proceedings for a judicial review.
“While we welcome any extra investment in healthcare, it is vital that any new specialist emergency care hospital is located where it is needed most – and this is clearly at St Helier Hospital. Tackling health inequalities is vital, as we have seen during the pandemic, and downgrading St Helier will clearly impact on the ability of residents living in the most deprived parts of Sutton and Merton, who are most disadvantaged, to get the vital care they need.”
Merton Council CCTV operators alerted police to three incidences across the borough in two days, leading to the arrests of suspected burglars and the removal of dangerous weapons from the streets. The successful action is a great example of the benefits the council’s strong partnership work with the Met Police can bring, to keep Merton a safe place for people to live and work.
In the early hours of Friday 27 November one of the council’s CCTV operators spotted a van on camera believed to be involved in a burglary. The operator speedily informed the Met Police, via two-way radio, and shared details of the van’s location and direction of travel. Police officers were able to stop the van and arrest three men, who were subsequently charged with burglary.
In a separate incident that evening a council CCTV operator, spotted 2 men acting in a threatening manner. The operator was able to relay what they had seen to the police and guided officers to the location. As the police arrived the men ran off, but they were quickly apprehended and a search was carried out. Two large knives were found at the scene and both men were arrested on suspicion of carrying offensive weapons.
The following day one of council’s CCTV operators saw three men acting suspiciously behind some properties in Morden. The operator quickly sent through images of the incident to the Met Police and gave a running commentary to guide officers to the location. The men ran off when the police arrived but they were soon apprehended, and one was arrested.
The CCTV Control room has also recorded images of people fly-tipping across the borough, and in the last year more than 100 items of footage have been passed to the council’s enforcement team. Subsequent investigations have resulted in fines being issued to offenders, and the seizure of vehicles involved in this criminal activity.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Partnerships, Public Safety and Tackling Crime, Councillor Agatha Mary Akyigyina OBE, said: “This is a great example of how our strong working relationship with the police is helping to keep Merton safe. Our CCTV operators do great work to help combat crime and anti-social behaviour, and residents will be happy to see this joint action leading to arrests for suspected burglary and violence and the removal of dangerous weapons from the streets.”
“I’m very grateful to our staff. Thanks to their efforts, Merton is one of the safest London boroughs and it’s good to see our tough action leading to positive results. We will continue to work in partnership with the police to do all we can to keep the borough safe and a great place for people to live, visit and work.”
The Metropolitan Police South West Basic Command Unit Neighbourhood Chief Inspector Nicholas Hackett-Peacock, said: “Thanks to the work we’ve been able to do with Merton Council the borough continues to be a safe place to live and work. CCTV can play an important part in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. This can be whether it’s used for prevention or crime, alerting nearby police officers to a situation which might develop or gathering evidence for an investigation. Tackling violent crime is our top priority, and as these incidents show it can play an important part in stopping crime such as burglary and knife crime.”
The council’s public protection surveillance camera system is one of the tools used support the response to crime and anti-social behaviour in the borough. The council’s CCTV operators proactively monitor all 210 cameras across the borough, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Our experienced operators remain in contact with the police using the two-way police radio, direct emergency services and council officers to incidents as well as record evidence for the police and council to use in investigations.
Want to find out more about the ‘Christmas Bubble’ guidance and hear practical tips on reducing the risk of COVID-19 during the holiday season?
Join one of our free webinars on Monday 14 December 2020, 12 noon to 1pm and 6pm to 7pm. No booking required, just drop-in using the links below.
Here are some other things to consider when celebrating over the holidays from 23 – 27 December with loved ones:
- Be cautious and try to limit your close contacts in the days and weeks prior to the gathering with your Christmas bubble,
- Do your Christmas shopping early for both gifts and food, to avoid the last-minute rush and crowds in supermarkets and shops
- keep multiple windows (or a window and door) open to create airflow through the house.
- Clean all frequently touched surfaces after anyone uses them (e.g., taps toilet flush, light switches etc)
- Try to avoid hugs, kisses and handshakes as people arrive
- Don’t share items like crockery and glassware
- Avoid sharing food and buffet style set ups
- Extra distance between settings will make sure everyone is comfortable and keeps people safe
- Avoid board games with a lot of pieces that need to be handled, replace them with talking games or quizzes.
- When gifting presents remember to wash hands before and after handling, as this will limit surfaces getting contaminated
Read more: GOV.UK
The free COVID-19 vaccine has started to be rolled out nationally this week and will first be given to care home staff, people over 80 and health and social care workers. Two hospitals in south west London are now delivering vaccinations for staff and patients.
The free COVID-19 vaccine has started to be rolled out nationally this week and will first be given to care home staff, people over 80 and health and social care workers. Two hospitals in south west London are now delivering vaccinations for staff and patients.
In the UK, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for use. It requires two doses to provide the best protection and has been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials.
An independent group of experts has recommended that the NHS first offers these vaccines to those at highest risk of catching the disease and of suffering serious complications or dying from COVID-19. When more vaccine becomes available, the vaccines will be offered to other people at risk as soon as possible and then to the rest of the population.
Please wait to be contacted. The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
If you haven’t had your Flu jab yet please note that you MUST leave seven days between having a Flu jab and taking the COVID vaccine, so please get your flu vaccine as soon as possible.
This is a huge step forward in our fight against coronavirus. Having an effective vaccine is the best way to protect the most vulnerable, saving tens of thousands of lives.
Read more: NHS website
From today, Merton has been placed in Tier 2: High Alert. This is for areas with a higher or rapidly rising level of infections, where some additional restrictions need to be in place.
These tiers will be strengthened compared to the previous tiers in order to prevent a return to growing infections.
The Tier system will be reviewed every two weeks, with the first review on 16th December. It is now up to all of us to follow the rules and do what we can to keep Merton safe and prevent London cases from rising and from us moving up into Tier 3, the highest level of restrictions.
Full details about the national restrictions and the number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in Merton are on our website: merton.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Rebecca Lanning, said:
“Huge progress has been made against COVID-19, and I want to thank you all for your commitment to following and acting on the Government measures so far. It is through your action that London has currently avoided the highest level of restrictions we have seen in some parts of the country.
“While we celebrate the great news that we can spend Christmas with our loved ones this year – with the Government announcing that up to three different households can form a Christmas bubble, that can meet in private homes, in their garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces, for up to five days between 23 to 27 December – it is important we continue to follow the measures that will keep our community safe.
“This means maintaining social distance, washing your hands, and wearing a face covering where required. If you have symptoms, please stay at home with the rest of your household and get tested as soon as possible. There are now two testing sites in the borough which can be booked through the national nhs.uk/coronavirus website or via 119. If you are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app, please follow this advice.
“While the festive season is often a time for celebration, I know that for many, particularly those whose livelihoods will be impacted by business restrictions, this year will be an incredibly challenging time. If you are struggling in any way, you can get information on how to access support from the Community Response Hub on email@example.com or calling 020 8685 2272
“Our Merton community has already pulled together in an unprecedented way to support those in greatest need during the pandemic, and this Christmas, we’re asking for you to continue to help bring Merton Together. This could be volunteering your time, donating money or food, or supporting local business by shopping local where you can, ordering from local delivery services and leaving good reviews for businesses. Find out more on our Merton Together webpage.”
Wimbledon Guild and Merton Council launch “Merton Moves” today, a new campaign to inspire older Merton residents to adopt a more physically active lifestyle.
Regular physical activity is key to healthy ageing and becomes even more important as we get older. The benefits associated with safe, physical activity in older adults, far outweigh any risks.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start. Merton Moves signposts to local clubs, classes and organisations offering an array of activities. The campaign also demonstrates how physical activity goes beyond a trip to the gym or organised sport.
There are lots of options that are free and easily incorporated into daily life, and Merton Moves includes diagrams for some simple but effective exercises you can do at home.
Wendy, Wimbledon Guild CEO, says:
“Supporting healthy ageing is one of Wimbledon Guild’s core aims so we were delighted to be asked to work with the Council on the Merton Moves project. Through our own activities programme which we run for the over fifties in Merton, we see first-hand the benefits of remaining physically active during the later years in life.”
Councillor Rebecca Lanning, Cabinet member for Public Health at Merton Council said:
“Over winter we all spend more time indoors and less time being active, and this winter we may do even less due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We are looking forward to working with Wimbledon Guild on Merton Moves, to provide easy to digest facts about the benefits of a physically active lifestyle, and myth bust some common misconceptions that can be barriers to people getting active.”
Being active can help you feel younger, have more energy and sleep better. It’s also good for your mental health and has been shown to be the best way to keep your mind sharp if you’re over fifty. Being physically active can also help you maintain a healthier weight and reduce the risk of severe or fatal illness from COVID-19.
Exercise isn’t just good for your health; it can also be a great opportunity to make new friends and try new hobbies – especially if you’re nearing retirement or have retired and find yourself with more time on your hands.
One thing’s for certain – doing some physical activity is always better than doing nothing, so let’s get Merton moving!
Notes to editors
- For media enquiries, please contact Phil McPherson on telephone: 020 8946 0735 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- More resources will be added over coming weeks so stay tuned. Visit www.wimbledonguild.co.uk/merton-moves for more information and look out for the Merton Moves campaign across social media and print.
- ABOUT WIMBLEDON GUILD
Wimbledon Guild is a local charity that provides people in Merton with help and support in times of need. Under normal circumstances the charity operates from its base at Guild House on Worple Road, Wimbledon. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the charity is now running most services online, allowing it to continue its work to reduce social isolation and loneliness, help people who are experiencing difficulties and enable older people to be active and healthy.
The services Wimbledon Guild offer includes:
• Wellbeing support
• Talking therapies
• Grief support
• Small grants
• Clubs, classes, talks and trips
• HomeFood Café – currently running a HomeFood meal delivery service
Wimbledon Guild rely heavily on donations and its work in the Merton community can only continue through the generosity of local people and businesses.
We know many of you will be keen to spend Christmas with your loved ones. The government has announced that up to three different households can meet indoors this Christmas season, anywhere in the UK, for up to five days. The meeting up period will run from 23 to 27 December only and does not extend past this date into the New Year.
The three households will be allowed to form a temporary “Christmas bubble”. They can mix indoors and stay overnight.
Bubbles will be allowed to meet each other:
- In each other’s homes
- At a place of worship
- In an outdoor public space, or garden
The bubbles will be fixed, so you will not be able to mix with two households on Christmas Day and then two different ones on Boxing Day – you must stay in your bubbles.
There will be no limit to the number of people in a household joining a bubble.
However, in England if you have formed a support bubble with another household that counts as one household, so you can join with two other households in a Christmas bubble.
People who are self-isolating should not join a Christmas bubble. If someone tests positive, or develops coronavirus symptoms up to 48 hours after the Christmas bubble last met, everyone will have to self-isolate.
This year has been tough for everyone and its good news that we are allowed some time to rest and reconnect this Christmas but it comes with a caution so we can continue to keep Merton safe:
- You should reduce unnecessary contact with people you do not live with as much as possible in the two weeks before you form your Christmas bubble.
- People should plan journeys carefully, prepare for restrictions on passenger numbers, and consider not travelling at all.
- Remember Hands, Face and Space while you are celebrating.
- Make sure you open windows and ventilate rooms as much as possible when you are mixing indoors with other households.
Read more on the government website.
VOLUNTARY organisations, charities, businesses, communities and charitable groups have all come together in a unique partnership to bring #MertonTogether this Christmas.
The unique #MertonTogether partnership is aiming to reach as much of the borough as possible to promote ways in which we can all give a little extra to help those in need during what will be a tough winter for many.
All those involved in the project provide vital support services to vulnerable groups – and all will be working together to help engage residents to bring Merton Together.
All the services provided by each organisation – as well as the many ways in which you can support them – will be listed on the Merton Council website. Residents and businesses can sign up for information, or make a pledge to the organisation that suits their needs (eg financial donation or volunteering).
Additionally, it will bring together all the existing campaigns & promotions of each partner, amplifying them to thousands of residents to ensure everyone in Merton knows how to help someone in need.
Organisations partnering in the campaign at launch include:
- Merton Giving (which will be launching its own community winter campaign this month)
- Merton Voluntary Services Council
- The Merton Association for Polish Families
- Commonside Community Development Trust
- Wimbletech – the Community Interest Company helping bring work life balance to the borough
- Age UK Merton
- Love Wimbledon
- Merton Council
- AFC Dons Action Group
Councillor Mark Allison, Leader of Merton Council, said: “This winter, thousands of vulnerable, elderly and isolated residents will be facing an unimaginably tough time. But together, we can help. I volunteer at a local foodbank every week, so I see the need all the time, but I also see so many acts of kindness, and it’s these little gifts of kindness that help make Merton a great place.
“Merton has some incredible voluntary groups, charities and businesses, all doing their part together to ensure communities in the borough are supported. What we want to do is bring everyone in Merton together, asking you to add that little extra bit of goodwill this winter by helping one of these organisations.
“People can offer as little or as much as they can spare – a few hours to help out as a volunteer, a few pounds to support a local community group like Merton Giving or the Commonside Trust, or food to donate to our local food banks.
“It might seem a small thing to us individually. But more than ever given the pandemic, it’s these small, individual acts of kindness from each of us that will help bring #MertonTogether this winter.”
Residents and businesses can both help to support these vital organisations over the coming months, through one of the following ways:
- Visit the Merton Together webpage where you can find links to ways you can support each organisation.
- Follow the #MertonTogether hashtag on social media. (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) or sign-up to email updates on the website – this will help ensure you see all the latest updates on these vital services and when they are available.
- Think of others – follow the partner organisations on social media, and use these updates to signpost people you may know to the support they need this winter; help us bring #MertonTogether
Simon Shimmens, Chief Executive of MVSC, added: “One of the positives of 2020 has been the way the community and voluntary sectors in Merton have come together to help support those in need.
“Those people will need us now more than ever, so we’re proud to continue helping bring Merton together to support all our community and voluntary organisations.”
THE NATIONAL watchdog for schools and children’s services has praised the London Borough of Merton for the quality of its work to keep local children safe during the pandemic.
Ofsted inspectors visited the Council in October to carry out a three-day focused visit, reviewing the way the council has adapted to continue protecting and supporting children since Covid-19 forced changes to the way services are delivered.
The Council has maintained all of its vital services to vulnerable children throughout the pandemic, ensuring prompt responses to concerns raised, and has introduced new mechanisms so families could still get support during lockdowns and restrictions.
The Ofsted report summarised:
“The most vulnerable children and families in Merton have benefited from a high level of protection and support throughout, and despite, the COVID-19 emergency.
“Nearly all children and young people in Merton’s care have continued to make good progress and have been protected. Children’s services staff, schools and partner agencies have worked together very effectively to enable the most vulnerable children and children in care to continue to attend school.
“Dedicated and skilled children’s services staff have gone to great lengths to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on children and families in Merton. In turn, staff have been very well supported by senior leaders and managers.”
Although the report notes two areas for further improvement – in relation to interventions for child criminal exploitation and timeliness of permanence planning and life story work – it acknowledges that senior managers had already identified these and put plans in place to tackle them.
Cllr Eleanor Stringer, Cabinet Member for Schools and Children’s Services, said: “Our staff have worked exceptionally hard to ensure we maintain as much face-to-face contact with families as possible, and to ensure the pandemic doesn’t reduce the support they get from us.
“We’ve introduced some new ways of delivering services to ensure the safety of staff and families, but – together with our partners, healthcare workers, the police and especially our schools – we have been able to maintain our high quality services despite the problems created by the virus and resulting restrictions.
“This recognition couldn’t be better timed – there have been some very, very long hours put in by children’s services teams to achieve this, and I’m delighted this official review reflects their efforts.”
We know that it’s been difficult over the last few weeks, but the good news is that cases in Merton are stabilising, but the faster we see a reduction in new cases, the sooner we can get back to what we love.
One if the evidence based ways that we can stop transmission of the virus, and therefore reduce new cases, is by self-isolating and getting a test as soon as you spot any symptoms (high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste).
There is good availability of tests and you should be able to access a test quickly and locally; we already have a testing site at Merton College and we have a second testing centre opening in late November in Mitcham, so stay tuned for more details.
- If you have coronavirus symptoms, you must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started. You must also book a coronavirus test at one of our testing sites or for home delivery: www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119
- People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive will be contacted by Test and Trace and told to stay at home for 14 days from the point of that contact, even if they do not have symptoms.
- Self-isolation means not leaving your home for any reason – even for exercise, food shopping or collecting medication. This will minimise the risk that you unknowingly spread the virus to others and help protect your friends, family, colleagues and community.
- The police also have the power to investigate and fine those who do not follow the rules without a valid reason. This includes employers who do not allow staff to stay at home when they have been told to self-isolate.
You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to stay at home and self-isolate and will lose income as a result.
Merton Council’s Climate Strategy and Action Plan was approved at a meeting of Full Council on 18 November. The plan sets out the key actions necessary to reach the net zero carbon targets of 2050 for the borough and 2030 for the Council. These targets were set when the Council declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019.
The 30 year plan for the borough is spread across four thematic areas:
- Buildings and Energy – making homes and commercial property in the borough more energy efficient and switching to low-carbon forms of energy
- Transport – moving from cars and other polluting vehicles to low-carbon alternatives like walking, cycling and public transport
- The Green Economy – reducing emissions from the things we buy and sell by thinking about what we eat, how we use products and services, and how we avoid waste through prevention, recycling and re-use
- Greening Merton – becoming more resilient to the impacts of climate change, mitigating air pollution and increasing biodiversity with trees and green spaces
These themes were decided upon as a result of research commissioned by the council to look into the biggest sources of emissions in Merton. For each area, the council has set out clear actions that they will take, as well as actions that residents and communities, and businesses and organisations, will need to take in order to become a net zero carbon borough.
The plan also sets out how the Council is going to lead by example, and decarbonise its own operations by 2030.
The Council is encouraging all local residents and businesses to read the Climate Strategy and Action Plan to find out what action the council has planned, and what they can do to help reach the 2050 target. You can find the strategy at www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange.
The plan is the product of over a year’s work that included multiple consultations and stakeholder events. Much of the document was shaped by input from Merton’s Climate Emergency Working Group, a group of residents with specific interests and expertise in environmental matters.
In order to foster and support local climate action, the Council will be launching a Climate Action Group in January 2021. This will provide a framework to develop community-led projects that reduce Merton’s carbon emissions, where joint efforts are more effective than the actions of individuals or the Council alone. The Council will be inviting applications for community lead roles shortly.
Councillor Martin Whelton, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Climate Emergency, said: “As a council we declared a climate emergency last year with unanimous cross-party support. We did this because it is an emergency, and action to tackle it cannot be put off any longer given the catastrophic threat to life.
“In combating this threat, we can take our own actions at a local level and the Climate Strategy and Action Plan sets out a roadmap for these local actions on how residents and businesses can play their part.
“The plan sets out a strong vision for a green, healthy, prosperous Merton by detailing the changes which can be made to heat and power our homes, transport, and to our economic activity. Doing this won’t be easy, but it’s entirely necessary to ensure that Merton remains a great place for families.”
Notes to editorHow can you get involved?
There are five key steps that residents and businesses can take to help meet the 2050 target:
- Get informed – There is a wealth of information available about what changes you can make to help combat climate change.
- Take up the challenge – Can you make changes in your home, your work, your travel, your purchases or your connection with others that will help?
- Join in with community action – Many local groups are working to make changes for the better in Merton and reduce carbon emissions. The Council will be launching a Climate Action Group in January 2021 to help develop community-led carbon reduction projects. Applications for community lead roles will open on Thursday.
- Help spread the word – In order to become a net-zero carbon borough, everyone working or living in Merton is going to need to play their part. You can help spread the word and get your friends, family and co-workers thinking about how they can reduce their carbon footprint.
- Lobby for change – Your voice with others can make change happen faster. Join with us to seek more funding and policy changes at a national level that will help Merton to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.
For more information on these steps, visit www.merton.gov.uk/climatechangeInformation on the five themes Buildings and Energy
According to the council’s research, energy used to heat and power buildings in the borough makes up around 81% of carbon emissions in Merton. It’s therefore vital to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in the borough to reduce our energy demand, and maximise low carbon and renewable energy generation wherever possible. This will not only be good for our planet, but it will lower energy costs for households and businesses across Merton.Transport
The use of petrol and diesel vehicles in the borough makes up 19% of Merton’s emissions as a result of the 600 million kilometres driven in Merton each year. Cars produce more carbon emissions than all other modes of transport put together. Emissions from buses, heavy goods and light goods vehicles also generate significant emissions. Therefore, we must move from cars to low-carbon alternatives like walking, cycling and public transport. Where private vehicle are necessary, we should look to use ultra-low emission options and shared ownership through car clubs. These changes will have a positive impact on the borough’s health, not only because of the increased physical activity, but also because of the reduced air pollution.The Green Economy
Creating a green economy means reducing emissions from the things we buy and sell. To do this we need to think about what we eat, how we use products and services, and how we avoid waste through prevention, recycling and re-use. Carbon emissions generated from the goods and services consumed by Merton’s residents cannot be accurately estimated or tracked, but are likely to far exceed Merton’s other sources of emissions.Greening Merton
At 28%, Merton has one of the highest proportions of tree cover of any London Borough. Whilst our vegetation only captures a small fraction (0.1%) of Merton’s emissions each year, trees can still play an important role in improving our resilience to the impacts of climate change (such as overheating and flooding), absorbing air pollution emissions, and providing wildlife habitats which help maintain and increase biodiversity.The Council’s 2030 Target
Over two-thirds of these emissions come from energy used in council buildings, but work will also focus on decarbonising the Council’s fleet, procured services and street lighting.