Fringe Box



Surrey County Council To Set Up Community Helpline

Published on: 18 Mar, 2020
Updated on: 20 Mar, 2020

By Rebecca Curley

local democracy reporter

Surrey County Council is setting up a coronavirus helpline for residents needing more support from the community, to relieve pressure on the NHS.

It is hoped this will also be a way of directing those who want to volunteer in their communities to the charities and voluntary organisations that need extra hands.

Surrey County Council council chamber at Tuesday’s meeting, March 17.

Council leader Tim Oliver announced the measures it was taking on Tuesday (March 17) at what could be the council’s last public meeting held in-person as it looks for ways to hold meetings online.

He said: “We are setting up an emergency helpline number for concerned residents and are working closely with the district and boroughs, the local resilience forum, to ensure we co-ordinate in the most effective way the voluntary and charitable sector.”

This would not be a medical helpline, but one to offer practical help in the community.

He said the council is a public service and it remains on high alert with teams working “tirelessly” to support schools, care homes and health partners.

Cllr Oliver added: “Our priorities at this time are to ensure that we do everything we can to reduce the pressure on the NHS, to protect our most vulnerable communities and support our staff and residents.”

There were 34 of the 81 council members absent from the meeting at County Hall in Kingston upon Thames on Tuesday.

Cllr Paul Deach said on Twitter he was self-isolating and Cllr Peter Martin, who was at the meeting, said he would also now be self-isolating.

The council had to vote through changes to its constitution to allow future decisions to be made by a delegated cabinet member or council officer.

Protocol around other democratic procedures such as questions to the council and petitions is being developed.

Staff are looking at how to hold meetings online.

Cllr Oliver said they were committed to meeting their public duty as a council.

He added: “The challenges being brought by coronavirus are not going to go away any time soon, we will be tested further in the coming weeks and months almost certainly, but it is during times like these that we must all pull together.

“Our residents must be assured that we will continue to deliver the vital services they rely on.”

Details of the helpline are being finalised as SCC makes sure it has staff in place to operate it and will be announced later this week.

Anyone looking for medical advice or information from public health must still go to or call 111 if they are suffering from severe symptoms. The advice is not to call 111 if you have mild symptoms but to go online instead.

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