From Gareth Thomas MP <[email protected]>
Subject My Covid-19 Update
Date May 3, 2020 10:00 AM
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It's the end of a long week. I’m writing to you with my latest
update on the response to the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic in
Harrow. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

[COVID Update]


Below is my latest update on the response to the Coronavirus or
COVID-19 pandemic locally. 

My thoughts continue to be with the loved ones of those who have sadly
died, and with those who have contracted the virus. I can only begin
to imagine the sense of fear and loss the families must be
feeling.  As a community, we are immensely grateful to all of our
NHS staff, social care workers and all of our key workers, who are
working tirelessly to help us deal with this crisis. I hope readers
continue to stay safe, stay indoors and regularly check in on loved

I continue to update my website
[[link removed]] – covering where to
find support, keep safe and assist local people in Harrow. If you have
anything you would like to me to feature in this update please send me
an e-mail with the subject “Covid-19 newsletter” and be sure to
share this message with friends, family, neighbours and local
businesses in order to strengthen our collective response to COVID-19.
The response to Coronavirus is being directed by Government centrally
working with Public Health England, the Government’s advice
is available here
[[link removed]]
. Government assistance specifically for businesses is available
here [[link removed]] . 

As always, if you ever need to get in touch about the issues covered
here – or anything else – please contact my office on 0207 219
4243 or e-mail me at [email protected]. Please bear
with us, as we have received over 5 times our usual weekly amount of
correspondence. My team and I are working hard to respond as promptly
as possible. Although we have had to cancel face to face surgery
appointments, we are now scheduling regular Zoom surgeries and phone
calls with Harrow West constituents. 

[decorations outside Vaughan school]



I understand the number of Covid patients in intensive care at
Northwick Park is now significantly lower than the peak in early
April. This is in part due to testing, with a number of staff
self-isolating or recovering, reducing to normal absence levels and
easing some of the pressure Northwick Park’s amazing staff have been
under. I am speaking regularly to senior NHS figures about what’s
happening in the hospital and in the wider community and future
planning. I have passed on the huge support there is from the
community locally for what they’re doing for us.

Encouragingly, the Trust who are responsible for Northwick Park and
both Central Middlesex and Ealing hospitals are beginning to organise
the resumption of other operations. Cancer operations have been
underway for the past two weeks (not at Northwick Park which continues
to prioritise Covid cases) but plans are being worked up for Central
Middlesex to begin other operations including diagnostic services.


I understand from conversations with senior stakeholders at both
Harrow Council and in our Health Service in North West London, there
are currently sufficient stocks of Personal Protective Equipment and
I’m pleased to hear that there have not been any shortages of these
essential supplies as of late. I will continue to follow the provision
of PPE closely, as the Health Service continues to handle this crisis.


NHS CCG has opened a COVID-19 testing service for Key and Essential
Workers resident or employed in the borough of Harrow. The testing
centre went live on Wednesday, offering appointment-based testing from
Alexandra Avenue Health and Care Centre. If you are a key or essential
worker in Health, Social, Priority Local Authority or Emergency
Services appointments can be made by calling 0208 966 6300 (listen
to the options). The lines are open from 08:00 to 20:00, 7 days a


Data has shown that the number of people presenting with a suspected
heart attack
[[link removed]] in
A&E departments across England has dropped by 50% since the beginning
of March – potentially leading to unnecessary deaths and
significantly poorer outcomes for people who do survive. The British
Heart Foundation recently asked cardiologists across the UK what they
thought was causing this drop: 

·       71% believe people are afraid to visit hospital during
the Covid-19 crisis due to fear of being exposed to the virus;

·       46% believe people are worried about putting pressure
on an already overburdened NHS.

A lot of people will feel they shouldn’t burden the NHS with serious
matters that are not related to Covid-19, but the NHS message is that
you should seek help when you need it, call your GP or 111 for advice,
in a life threatening emergency call 999. Primary care is still
ongoing for serious cancer, stroke and chest pain referrals, while
less urgent cases are being put on hold.


Care homes are a concern for many at this time, due to the rise in
Covid cases. Whilst it feels as though, again, the response has been
very late to make a difference, PPE for staff is now getting through
in sufficient numbers and, locally, staff can now access testing. 


[HC Coronavirus response]

I am beginning to have tentative conversations with senior members of
Harrow Council to discuss measures to prepare for our community coming
out of lockdown. Whilst Harrow Council will, of course, take its lead
from Government on this, we have been gently exploring options for how
the council will begin to re-reopen services and our schools safely
when the time arises.


I appreciate how important the Coronavirus Small Business grants are
to many businesses in our community. I will continue to raise the
frustrations and real concerns of small businesses who have been
experiencing delays and problems accessing these important funds to
Senior figures at Harrow Council. 

I am assured that Harrow Council have been working hard in difficult
conditions to process all applications and they expect this to be done
by the middle of May, although it is likely that further information
will be needed from some businesses in order to provide proof of

It is my understanding that this additional information is likely to
be required from businesses who do not directly pay business rates to
Harrow Council and that this is a requirement from Government in an
effort to combat fraudulent applications.

To date Harrow Council have paid out £13.5 million to 738
businesses across the Borough. 


Headstone Manor & Museum is undertaking a contemporary collecting
project focused around the current pandemic the world is experiencing.
With lockdowns in place, increased use of social media platforms, food
crises, economic setbacks, medical emergencies, and local government
pressures, this period of uncertainty has affected us all. Headstone
Manor museum believe this is a period of history that needs to be told
for the generations to come and so have launched a collecting project
to capture the impact of the crisis as it unfolds in Harrow, with the
view of framing it within the wider global story. 

The museum are calling on Harrow residents to submit materials for
this collection. Full information on what they are hoping to collect
can be found here.
[[link removed]]


Harrow Council has a webpage set up specifically to find support
across Harrow and London here.
[[link removed]]
 There has been a steady increase in the number of contacts and
referrals involving Domestic Abuse over the past week, which
reflects some of the trends seen in other parts of London, and other
parts of the country. Harrow Council have had sufficient capacity to
deal with this investigative work in collaboration with the Police and
other agencies.

Domestic abuse is historically an under-reported crime and victims may
now feel even more isolated with less opportunity to access help and
support. With this in mind, the police are now publicising more
information that will help and support communities. 

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or you know a friend, relative
or neighbour who you think is at risk, call the police right away. In
an emergency, always call 999 – high harm domestic abuse calls will
continue to be prioritised. The 24/7 National Domestic Abuse
helpline, which offers support to victims and people affected by
domestic abuse, is free to call on 0808 2000 247. 

EVERYONE ACTIVE, the Council’s leisure contractor, is
providing 20 classes free of charge each week live on the main
Everyone Active Harrow Facebook page 
[link removed] . The classes are open to anyone
and all ages and levels of fitness are catered for. The sessions
include yoga, family fitness, conditioning, family pilates, and cardio


Harrow Council, Harrow CCG, and Young Harrow Foundation have put
together a joint document
[[link removed]] signposting
residents to a collection of some of the most helpful and trusted
sources of information and guidance for children and young people’s

For young people (high school and college age), the
document ‘looking after ourselves’ can be found here
[[link removed]] – covering
how to stay healthy, stay connected and learn new skills during this


Harrow Council have collected a range of online resources
[[link removed]]
 for all members of the family to keep entertained while libraries
are closed. You will be able to find resource to help with homework,
eBooks, newspapers and magazines and keeping yourself healthy and

Counselling services and mental health support

·       Relate Family Mediation 
[[link removed]] - a
service fully geared up to supporting families through the crisis.
Tel: 0300 0032324 or email [email protected].

·       DAWN [[link removed]]  - provide
a counselling service to the local community of Harrow and its
neighbouring boroughs. Tel: 020 8427 6796 or
email: [email protected]

·       Need To Talk [[link removed]]  - offering
1 to 1 counselling supporting their clients or any client by telephone
or webcam. Tel: call/ text on 07427548559 or
email [email protected]

·       Ignite Trust 
[[link removed]]  - During these challenging
and uncertain times, Ignite Trust is working hard to ensure they
continue to provide support to the boroughs most vulnerable and
at-risk young people. Email [email protected].

·        [[link removed]] Every
Mind Matters [[link removed]] - Expert
advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health
and wellbeing.


The council have set up a hotline telephone number to support those in
need of assistance in Harrow, if you are in need of support due to
Covid please give the hotline a call - 0208 901 2698


This week, as part of my role as a Shadow Minister for International
Trade, I have been meeting (via Zoom) with various trade bodies and
senior industrial stakeholders to understand what concerns they have
regarding both the trading environment for exporting our goods to the
world. In addition to this, I have been having discussions about the
need to secure supply chains in order to ensure our manufacturing
sector is ready to go as soon we are out of the Covid-19 lockdown.



The collaborative ‘FEEDING HARROW’ operation – between Harrow
Council, the Voluntary Community Sector (VCS), Harrow Community
Transport (HCT), The Bridge, My Yard, The Breaking Bread Trust,
Stanmore Temple and Mosque, Harrow School and others continues to
operate effectively. 

Over 5000 food deliveries have now taken place across Harrow - VCS
have setup an online system taking direct food requests from residents
-  [/]
[/]. All of the Harrow Council and central
government shielded list has already been referred for delivery. 

If you can donate any food - KIND CAFÉ @ THE BRIDGE, WEALDSTONE,

Monday to Friday 10:30AM-4PM, and they larger quantities can be
arranged for collection. 


Do you have a medical condition that makes you vulnerable? Please

A reminder, if you think you fall into a category that makes you
vulnerable to coronavirus – register with the Government here
[[link removed]]. For example,
you’ll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential
supplies like food. The council has just started to receive this
information and is working with local organisations to provide support
to those who apply.

If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you
extremely vulnerable, register anyway. This service is free. You can
register yourself, or on behalf of someone else.
[[link removed]]

AGE UK is determined to be here for older people and their families
throughout the coronavirus crisis, they have compiled a helpful
coronavirus information pack to access here:
[[link removed]]

 [link removed]
[/ [link removed]]

HARROW TALKING THERAPIES - The coronavirus crisis is unlike anything
many of us will have encountered before and will, at some point, take
its toll on our own mental well-being and the well-being of those
closest to us. For anyone who is struggling with their mental health
at this current time - Harrow Talking Therapies is a FREE NHS service
offering support to those who are finding the current situation
difficult. They offer 1:1 support via telephone or Video call. They
offer bereavement support, anxiety and worry management support, low
mood support and also help if you are self-isolating, or feel isolated
being on your own at this time amongst other support you might be
needing at this time. 

Please get in touch by calling 0208 515 5015 (lines are open
Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) or emailing  [email protected]. You will be
assessed very quickly and booked in for treatment quickly too.

CORONAVIRUS SCAMS - The Government are advising the public to be extra
vigilant and be wary of scams related to Covid-19, please read the
Government's guidance here -
[link removed]
[[link removed]]

A COVID-19 COMMUNITY SUPPORT GROUP has been set-up, coordinating
action within WhatsApp groups for every ward in Harrow in order to
provide support to local residents – you are welcome to  join the
Facebook group here
[[link removed]] 
[[link removed]]and
if you are not a Facebook member but would like to join your ward’s
WhatsApp group – e-mail [email protected] with your postcode
and the coordinators will add you to the correct group.

ST MARY’S CHURCH - If you are in need of support or company – a
visit (where possible), a telephone call, help with shopping etc. St.
Mary’s would like you to get in contact. You can do this in a
variety of ways via the Church Office. The Office is open on Tuesdays
and Thursdays 9am – 2pm but the messages will be checked daily.

Email: [email protected], Tel: 020 8423 4014 (answerphone:
leave your contact details)

HARROW CENTRAL MOSQUE – Harrow Mosque is providing a free food and
essentials transport service to elderly and vulnerable people in
Harrow who require assistance with medical collection or other
essentials – Call or SMS: 07874869484 E-mail:
[email protected]


COMMUNITY ACTION continue to work with Harrow Council to help
coordinate a Harrow wide response to the Coronavirus outbreak and a
database is being compiled of people who are willing to volunteer.
Voluntary Action Harrow are using this database to inform people of
organisations looking for volunteers. Please sign up here: 
[link removed]
[[link removed]]


My office have been able to match key workers with free rooms for
those with family or housemates self-isolating. If you are able to
temporarily offer a spare room to a key worker currently unable to be
at home due to a family member or a housemate self-isolating, please
get in touch with my office by e-mailing
[email protected] with subject “spare room”.


I appreciate that whilst this outbreak of Covid-19 is currently
dominating a lot of our thoughts, other concerns and problems do not
disappear. However, to help reduce the spread of infection, I am
asking members of the public who need to contact my office to do so by
phone or email rather than in person and further, I will continue to
hold surgery appointments exclusively by telephone and Zoom video
conferencing. This is a temporary measure and a sensible precaution to
protect vulnerable people. Please be assured we continue to offer a
full service of advice and support to members of the public who need

As always, my office can be contacted
on [email protected] or by telephone on 0207 219 4243


Best wishes,


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