A total of £16m in government funding will help to support immediate pressures on city council services during the coronavirus outbreak.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has received the funding in two phases from government, but has warned that the money will not be enough to cover all of the work that needs to be done.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “The coronavirus outbreak is a national emergency and it will clearly have a significant financial impact for a considerable period of time.
“We have been modelling the impact of this on our finances from the beginning and have a very clear understanding of the pressures it is bringing – for example through increased demand for support and loss of income.
“We have been working with government, feeding this information through and are regularly talking to them and flagging the issues for what this means in Stoke-on-Trent.
“We are grateful for the financial contributions government have made to date. While these will not be enough to cover all that we need to, they are helping us to meet the immediate pressures we are facing.
“The vast majority of this funding will be used to help support forecast costs in adult social care services, children and family services and housing services, including the costs of the direct response to the coronavirus outbreak, lost income from services that have closed and potential recovery costs.”
Meanwhile, council waste collection crews are empting 33,000 bins and visiting 750 streets across the city each day, during the coronavirus outbreak.
Council teams are collecting an average of 13,200 grey bins containing household waste, 9,000 blue bins of recyclable waste and 8,600 brown bins of garden waste each day. Last week alone, crews cleared 215 tonnes a day of grey bin rubbish and 119 tonnes of recycling waste from households across the city.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “Waste collection is a major logistical operation, and one that we have worked hard to keep going throughout the coronavirus outbreak. We have been able to keep delivering the grey and blue collections through the five weeks of the lockdown so far, and I am really pleased that we are able to do a ‘sweep’ of brown garden waste bins this week and next, to help to ease the burden on households.
“Our crews are visiting around 750 streets every day, and each binman walks an average of 12-15 miles during their daily round. We have redeployed workers from other council services that have temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, so for example, leisure centre staff have been helping to empty bins and gritting truck drivers have retrained to help drive waste wagons.
“I know residents are really grateful for the work the crews are doing, and it really warms the heart when I hear of the thank you messages and treats that have been left by so many caring and thoughtful households across the city. The teams deserve all the credit they get, they are doing a fantastic job, and they are very grateful for the support they are receiving from communities.”
The two week ‘sweep’ of brown bin collections will continue tomorrow (Thursday), with crews visiting more than 300 streets in Brindley Ford, Burslem, Chell, Chell Heath, Fegg Hayes, Goldenhill, Packmoor, Pittshill, Sandyford, Tunstall. Unfortunately today (Wednesday), crews were not able to collect from Sneyd Street, Hazelwood Close and Sneyd Wood View, and these streets will now be collected first thing on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the council has joined with Voluntary Arts England to administer micro-grants of up to £200 to help not-for-profit creative groups in the city share their creativity with people feeling isolated during the coronavirus outbreak as part of #GetCreativeAtHome.
The grants are available from today until Monday 4 May on the Voluntary Arts website – www.voluntaryarts.org.
#GetCreativeAtHome is a national creative campaign that is being championed by partners including Arts Council England and the BBC to highlight some of the amazing participatory creative activities that are being developed across the country to help people to express themselves during this time of unprecedented change.
Successful applicants will be awarded up to £200 to transform their usual creative community activities into remotely accessible projects, such as live online events, video tutorials, podcasts and posted creativity packs.
Councillor Brown said: “At this extremely challenging time, creativity is more important than ever; to unite people, support good mental health and wellbeing and maintain vital connections with others
“The micro-grants are a fantastic way to support our communities during this pandemic. Not-for-profit creative groups can provide a huge boost to people who feel isolated and those who are struggling with mental health issues. The projects can also help to connect communities at a time when we may feel distant from our friends, family and communities. We’d encourage people to get involved and help our city to come together through creativity.”
Each of the funded projects will take place from 10 May to 31 May and will be advertised on the national Get Creative website – www.getcreativeuk.com, as well as at www.visitstoke.co.uk. The activities and events will also be promoted across various social media channels using the hashtag #GetCretiveatHome and #MyStokeStory.
Meanwhile, there are two days left for voluntary sector organisations to apply for a city council grant scheme. The authority has pledged £100,000 of financial support to community groups and voluntary organisations who are providing critical help to those impacted by coronavirus living in the city. The money will also help to ensure that organisations that have seen usual funding or fundraising streams reduce due to the coronavirus can still access additional financial support.
Applications must be submitted by 4pm on Friday 1 May, via www.stoke.gov.uk/voluntaryfund. So far, the authority has received 35 completed forms.
There are 371 registered charities in the city and an estimated further 3,000 voluntary or community organisations. These organisations and groups employ staff and provide volunteering opportunities, as well as contributing to the local economy. A total of 33 per cent of registered charities in Stoke-on-Trent have a turnover of less than £10,000 a year.
There is no maximum limit for loan or grant applications although bids for more than £3,000 will require further evidence and be subject to additional scrutiny and ongoing monitoring. Some organisations that already receive city council funding will also be able to redirect unspent funds to support delivery of Covid-19-related support services.
For more information and advice on coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated.
For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.
For all media enquiries only please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.
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