This is an update to my earlier e-mail following some positive breaking news:
The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use. This is a huge credit to all those involved, from the brilliant scientists to the trial volunteers
and everyone else involved in the development. The vaccine has been shown to be 95 per cent effective in preventing the disease, according to data released last month from the companies’ phase-3 trial, which
involved more than 43,000 people. British regulator, the MHRA, says the jab, which will require two shots one month apart, is safe for rollout from next week. Under provisional plans released last week (shown below),
the jab will most likely be made to care home residents and staff first, before being administered to those aged over 80 and to frontline health workers.
Harrow Council has expressed it hopes to have everything in place for the next stage of tackling the virus as soon as possible. This will include “small quantities” of a vaccine, which will initially be offered to groups
most at risk such as frontline medical staff, and those living and working in care homes. Over three vaccination sites have been suggested in Harrow and these are set to be confirmed this week.
The second nationwide lockdown comes to an end today with the country returning to a regional tier system. Harrow, as well as the rest of London now re-enters Tier 2. Broadly speaking, the new rules mean that you
must not socialise indoors with anyone who does not live with you, or who is not in your support bubble. The 'rule of six' (where you must not socialise with more than six people) once again applies outdoors, including
inside private gardens. The tier allocations will be regularly reviewed based on the latest data, with the first review to take place on 16 December. It’s certainly true that while we are in Tier 2, it would be a
tragedy for this to change due to complacency. So, while there are many that will want to enjoy the five-day break from restrictions over Christmas, we must work together to keep the infection rate as low as possible.
Let's work hard to stay in Tier 2 and play our part in keeping London out of the wider restrictions of Tier 3.
Over the past week, Harrow has seen a rise in 350 cases. The below table shows Harrow’s current ranking among London boroughs. The current case rate locally stands at 135 cases
per population of 100,000 –
As a community, we are immensely grateful to all of our NHS staff, social care workers and all of our key workers that continue to keep us safe and keep our local services going. I hope readers continue to stay safe, socially
distance and regularly check in on loved ones. Again, people are being urged to remain vigilant for any symptoms of Covid-19. These are a high temperature, continuous cough or a change in sense of taste or
smell. Developing just one of these requires immediate action – self-isolate and book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. We can all help stop the spread of coronavirus by washing our hands, covering our face
and making space when around people we don’t live with. The response to Coronavirus is being directed by Government centrally working with Public Health England, the Government’s advice is available here. Government assistance specifically
for businesses is available here
As always, if you 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.
The council has a webpage covering their own response to the coronavirus pandemic, this is regularly being updated and is available here.
Local Contact Tracing
Harrow Council has now been given support to work with the national contact tracing service to stem the spread of Covid-19. I’m glad to see our council is now being equipped to enhance contract tracing efforts, this is
long overdue. As many will know, alongside many of my colleagues in the Labour Party, I have been pushing to put contact tracing into the hands of councils and local public health teams who
know their own communities better than Serco and Sitel (private companies involved in the contact tracing system).
Anyone that has come into close contact with an infected person must be quickly identified and told to self-isolate. For a long time, Serco has not been delivering effective contact tracing and so, it is good to see, in Harrow, where this
is not straightforward, cases are now finally being referred to the council’s contact tracing team.
Cllr Graham Henson, Leader of Harrow Council, says:
“Government has asked local authorities to help fill in the huge gaps that the national test and trace system is leaving behind. It’s a system that’s proved efficient at dealing with the easy cases, but lacks the kind of
tenacity needed to engage with people that are reticent to cooperate.
“The caseload is challenging, but our local knowledge, community engagement and presence on the ground is already contributing to the system's overall success.
“Alongside this work, we’re offering help to local people required to self-isolate, as we did during the first wave. So far this year we've reached out by phone and email more than 40,000 times.
“We've been coordinating exceptionally well with Harrow's voluntary network, whose links into the local community will continue to be invaluable.
“We’re committed to continue working together on an emergency footing for as long as is needed, providing food parcels and other support to those most profoundly affected by the crisis.”
Book a free test online or call 119
· South Harrow walk-through testing centre at Brigade Close Car Park,
HA2 0LQ (opposite South Harrow Police Station) - open daily 8am to 8pm. No parking available at this site.
· Mobile Testing Unit, Harrow Civic Centre - Car Park ‘A’, Milton Road, 10:30 – 15:30
· Mobile testing site (cars only) on selected days, 10.30am to 3.30pm at Northwick Park Hospital (Rear car park).
Tests must be booked in advance. Only book a test if you have symptoms.
Support for children and young people
Harrow Council, Harrow CCG, and Young Harrow Foundation have put together a joint document signposting residents to a collection of some
of the most helpful and trusted sources of information and guidance for children and young people’s wellbeing.
For young people (high school and college age), the document ‘looking after ourselves’ can be found here – covering how to stay healthy, stay
connected and learn new skills during this time.
Support and online resources for the family
Harrow Council have collected a range of online resources
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 motivated.
Counselling services and mental health support
· Relate Family Mediation
- a service fully geared up to supporting families through the crisis. Tel: 0300 0032324 or email i[email protected].
- 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
- 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
- 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].
Every Mind Matters - Expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.
The council continues to operate a hotline telephone number during weekends in order to provide support to 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
The Arts Centre is reopening as a Covid-secure venue tomorrow and is preparing for the opening of an immersive Christmas experience in a few week’s time from - Sat 19th – Thu 24th December.
This immersive Christmas experience will take place across the historic Harrow Art Centre site and features a cast of professional performers, popular musical theatre, Christmas songs and electrifying choreography.
The Night Before Christmas is a COVID-secure production, following safe government guidelines. The Arts Centre offers a full money back guarantee if the show or any individual performances have to be cancelled due to
Headstone Manor Museum
Reopening for teas and coffees tomorrow and the full museum in a week’s time – see Headstone Manor’s December calendar below:
Intrepid Hill Players Panto (from home)
The intrepid Hill Players of Harrow will not be stopped by a pandemic, and if they can’t host their usual Panto in the Ryan, they’ll do a virtual one… (oh yes, they will)!!
The Players have four free shows as a live stream on the 19th & 20th December. You’re welcome to come along and cheer and jeer from home. Please share among families, family organisations, care groups, etc,
who might need some cheering up…
Fresh Horizons Homeless Support
The Fresh Horizons CND charity based in Wembley has supported accommodation available for the single homeless in Harrow during the ongoing coronavirus restrictions. If you or someone you know is in need of supported accommodation,
Fresh Horizons can be contacted by telephone at 0300 321 4702 or via email at [email protected]
Small Business Saturday
There’s never been a more important time to support the fantastic small businesses of Harrow. This week, with the return of Small Business Saturday this Saturday, 5th of December, I have been spotlighting as many small
businesses as I can across my social media channels on Facebook
If you are a small business owner in Harrow and would like me to promote you this week in the run up to Small Business Saturday, please send me a quick note with:
• A picture that you’re happy for me to use to promote your business
• The business name and a sentence on what your customers like about you
• Where people can find you online and/or in person, your opening hours and any social media pages
Our small businesses have had a long eight months navigating through the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s give our small businesses the support and appreciation that they deserve.
NHS – ‘Help Us, Help You’
NHS England and NHS Improvement recently launched the Access phase of the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign. The campaign encourages the public to contact their GP if they are worried about a symptom that could be cancer,
encourage pregnant women to keep appointments and seek advice if they are worried about their baby, encourage those already who are already being treated for a health issue to keep their routine appointments and those
experience mental health issues to access NHS services and support.. The NHS has introduced a range of measures to ensure the safety of patients, including COVIDsecure wards, and the ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign will
help to reassure patients that they can receive medical care safely. Your NHS is here to see you, safely. Help Us, Help You.
For cancer: Visit nhs.uk/cancersymptoms
for more information
For using the NHS during coronavirus: Visit nhs.uk/yourhealthmatters for
For pregnancy advice: Visit nhs.uk/pregnancy-and-coronavirus for
For mental health and talking therapies If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, please do come forward: it’s easy to get help. Ask your GP for a referral to NHS talking therapies, or you can self-refer
London's Community Kitchen (based at The Bridge, next to Harrow Leisure Centre) continue to put Harrow on the map. At the height of the pandemic, this incredible operation served over 10,000 people across Harrow
and London and they are continuing to serve over 5,000 people per week. The Community Kitchen is working with Harrow Council and many other community groups to coordinate a Harrow wide response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Please consider donating or getting involved in any way that you can: https://www.londonscommunitykitchen.com/home-1
If you’re ever in need of their support, the Community Kitchen want to help - they wont ask you for any details, or anything in return, just turn up and they will provide you with food. If you would like to get involved
with the Community Kitchen - register here: https://www.londonscommunitykitchen.com/get-involved-1
and if you can donate anything, they will make a little go a very long way: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/make-harrow-smile-fundraiser-2020-1
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 it.
As always, my office can be contacted on [email protected] or by telephone on 0207 219 4243 (Monday-Friday).
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Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Keith Ferry on behalf of Gareth Thomas, both at 132-134 Blenheim Road, Harrow, HA2 7AA Website: www.labour.org.uk to join or renew call 0345 092 2299.