Coronavirus roundup Friday 14 August

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​News from across the sector as lockdown continues to lift 

14th August 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Eviction reprieve hailed by campaigners

Housing charities have welcomed a proposal for a six-month extension to Scotland's ban on evicting renters amid the Covid-19 pandemic. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the ban, due to end in September, should now run until March 2021. Charity Crisis said the move showed "real leadership," whilst Shelter said the "decisive action" would help thousands of renters. A similar ban in England and Wales is due to end later this month. The ban on new evictions in England and Wales, for both social and private renters, is now due to be lifted on 23 August. It was originally due to finish at the end of June before being extended for two months. The government has said new repossession rules in England will provide appropriate protection for renters after eviction court hearings resume. Under the new rules, landlords will have to say how the pandemic has affected their tenants financially when applying for a hearing. They will also be required to produce a tenant's full rent arrears history in advance of proceedings, rather than at the hearing itself. But Labour has branded the new rules "toothless" and called for emergency protection to strengthen protection for renters. Sturgeon said extending the eviction ban in Scotland would help stop people becoming homeless as a result of the pandemic. The move will require the consent of the Scottish Parliament but is unlikely to be blocked. Speaking on Wednesday, the SNP leader said it showed Scottish ministers were doing "everything we can" to protect renters. Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said the move would "help thousands keep a roof over their head". "It's really encouraging to see the Scottish and Welsh governments taking decisive action to protect renters," she said.

Job losses at cancer charity  

CLIC Sargent will open a second redundancy consultation in September, having already made some redundancies. A total of 38 staff were made redundant in the first instance, with those affected currently working their notice periods. A drop in donations from fundraising and the closure of the charity's shops during lockdown have left the charity with a £9m drop in income this year. The first round of cost-cutting had focused on CLIC Sargent’s shops and frontline fundraising activity, which were hardest hit by lockdown and ongoing health and safety and social distancing restrictions. Four charity shops are closing permanently and 12 will remain closed until next year.Rachel Kirby-Rider, chief executive of CLIC Sargent, said: “It’s incredibly sad that we’ve had to take these decisions. It’s not something I ever imagined we’d have to do. I’d like to thank the staff who have lost their jobs for the hard work and commitment they’ve shown CLIC Sargent while working here. We’re also hugely appreciative to all our volunteers who put their hearts and souls into helping in our charity shops. They’ve made such a difference to the families we work with.” The charity has not put a figure on the anticipated number of redundancies which will be made in the second round, but will have a clearer idea in September.

Care home monitoring launched

A new web-based tool, commissioned by the Scottish Government, will allow care homes to monitor coronavirus (COVID-19) trends and identify risks quicker. The Turas Care Management tool will launch today and will allow all private and public sector care homes across the country to record in one place information including coronavirus infection rates, demand on services and staff testing. This will mean care home managers, health and social care organisations and the Scottish Government can monitor trends, identify risks and take early action both during the current pandemic and in the future. The care management tool, developed by the Scottish Government in collaboration with the Care Inspectorate, Scottish Care and NHS Education Scotland (NES), will provide: A clearer national picture of conditions in care homes; Earlier warning of emerging trends and issues, allowing earlier interventions; Easier reporting to free up care home resources. The tool is for care home management use and only identified staff will be able to access the information. Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of care home residents both during the current pandemic and in the future is critically important. This new web-based tool allows care homes to store information in one central place, whereas before they were required to report in different formats and through many channels, which tied up resources and made trend-spotting more difficult.”

YouthLink launches online resource

A free, online resource has been launched to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of young people in Scotland. Developed in response to an increased demand for online mental health and wellbeing services, ‘Heids Together’ is a collection of podcasts, e-books, training toolkits and lesson plans, full of information and advice on how to address key issues for young people impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The project, led by YouthLink Scotland, began in the immediate aftermath of lockdown restrictions, where thousands of young people across the country found themselves cut off from vital local youth work services, sparking fears of a mental health epidemic. After a national survey revealed that 77% of young people were concerned about their mental health and wellbeing, YouthLink Scotland put their ‘heids together’ with leading mental health charities Penumbra and See Me Scotland to adapt the services of six youth groups for online delivery. Youth Work D&G, St Mungo’s Academy in Glasgow, Scouts Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, Glasgow Life and Passion4Fusion all submitted resources to Heids Together, covering a range of topics from anxiety, depression and self-harm, to the impacts of Covid-19 specific to BAME and LGBTQI communities. Pupils from St Mungo’s Academy, Glasgow, produced a 21-episode podcast series featuring interviews from pupils and teachers on isolation, bereavement, strained family relationships and loss of friendship. The podcasts are accompanied by a set of ‘coping cards’, designed to give inspiration for managing mental health issues.

Cash call for community centres

Community centres and leisure facilities in deprived areas should be given priority funding to get them re-opened after the coronavirus crisis a Glasgow MSP has said. Bob Doris, SNP Maryhill and Springburn MSP, mentioned a number of facilities in the north of Glasgow that need support and asked what the Scottish Government was doing to address cash problems. He was told by finance minister, Ben Macpherson, that there was an expected budget shortfall for council run facilities well in excess of £100m across Scotland due to loss of income during the lockdown. Doris highlighted closures in Glasgow. Glasgow Life has previously warned the future of services is uncertain as it is moving to a phased re-opening after furloughing 1000 staff and losing income form charges for the first quarter of 2020/21.  Doris said: “Glasgow Life’s clear financial challenges are a key driver in the delay in reopening much of its sport and community estate. I was pleased that the First Minister confirmed to me that the Scottish Government is working with COSLA to see how the Scottish Government can support councils in that area. During those discussions, can there be an examination of how any financial support or partnership financial package will focus on reopening facilities in deprived areas and communities, such as my constituency’s Petershill complex, John Paul academy and Maryhill community centre?”