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It’s wonderful to see so many organisations helping us all

Black circular sign post with Farnham painted in white letters around top of circle

Farnham Voice by Councillor John Neale. Published in the Farnham Herald on 25 March 2020.

In the last Farnham Voice, I announced the setting up of the Farnham COVID-19 Coordinating Group, as the organisation that will spearhead local support and assistance to our citizens affected by the pandemic. We have all seen an increased urgency from government to take steps to minimise the impacts of the disease.

In Farnham we have been working hard with partners to organise a local response to the pandemic. This is what we are doing. The three key organisations that will manage the activities are our Town Council, Farnham Maltings and the Herald.

The Town Council has staff and other resources that will be applied as necessary. Farnham Maltings has offered to use its greater building and staff resources to set up a call centre that will handle all general requests for assistance and help in other ways where they can. The Herald will be a key channel for communications with the public, both through the published papers and their website for up-to-the minute news.

Alongside this central organisation, we have an army of volunteer organisations that will be providing assistance. These include established Farnham charities, a number of volunteer groups that have set up specifically for this emergency, and a range of local businesses that will be redirecting their operations to assist.

The call centre is called Farnham Coronavirus Helpline, telephone number 01252 745446. This call centre will be able to advise you how best to get the help you need and will put you in touch with the right organisation. They might be advising help from one of our recognised response groups, a street coordinator, a local business, or one of the public organisations such as a council or the NHS. The Helpline will assist neighbourhoods around Farnham as well as the areas overseen by the town council.

If you think you can help us, we would also like to hear from you. To volunteer yourself, or to advise us of a local group that could become one of our response groups, please call 01252 745444 and we will take your details.

I want to use this opportunity to voice a word of caution to everyone. Please be especially careful when responding to any offers of help, either by someone at your front door or on the telephone. The situation we find ourselves in is likely to be exploited by some unscrupulous people to try and take advantage of vulnerable people. If you do not know who is offering assistance, we advise you to call our Helpline to check whether they know the person.

Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council are the lead councils supporting vital services to our community. People who have needs that are provided by these councils, such as difficulties with housing, care assistance, domestic abuse, refuse collection, will be referred to them. Alternatively, if you already know where to go, you can of course contact them directly. A fortnight ago the leaders of all three councils, together with our MP, Jeremy Hunt, met in Farnham Town Hall to discuss the roles of all the councils and how we are planning our local response at the town level.

I want to thank all the individuals and all the organisations that are contributing to this response. All our councils, our MP, and the local organisations are putting in a huge effort to try an minimise the impact of this pandemic and to assist those in need as much as we can. After all this is over, we will emerge as a stronger connected community. Please look out for yourselves and your neighbours.

By Councillor John Neale, Leader, Farnham Town Council Published in the Farnham Herald on 25 March 2020

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