Statement from Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Phil North

Councillor Phil North, Leader of Test Valley Borough Council said the following:

I know how worrying the current COVID-19 outbreak is for the people of Test Valley. I am reassured by the strong and robust plan that the Government has put in place led by the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Advisor. It is absolutely essential that we are led by the science. This will enable the government to flatten the peak and take as much pressure of our health service as possible, so we can all concentrate on helping the elderly and the most vulnerable.

I have been extremely impressed by the community response to this outbreak with groups of people and businesses coming together to help those self-isolating obtain food and medicines. There is also an important community leadership role for Test Valley Borough Council to play in helping to coordinate this effort. Therefore, in recent days, we have had detailed discussions with our community services partner to act as a conduit for these community groups.

From today, Unity (formerly Test Valley Community Services) will bring together a community support network. So if you are thinking about starting up a group or have already done so, and need advice about the management of volunteers and working with vulnerable people, then I would encourage you to contact them. This can be done via 0330 4004 116 or info@unityonline.org.uk. More widely, Unity will be able to connect these groups with a range of helpful services.

Of course, the borough council has always played an important community leadership and co-ordinating role in times of emergency and our previous work has enabled a number of well-established resilience groups to form – especially in our rural areas.

For example, my colleague councillor Phil Lashbrook, co-ordinates a resilience network in his Bellinger ward. Most of the parishes in that area are implementing a vulnerable persons support system. This means that any vulnerable residents will have a list of trusted contacts that they can use if they need help. This will include shopping, general support and a friendly voice on the end of the phone if people need emotional support. These groups, where available, already have existing plans and are best placed to support their communities.

Test Valley has today been in contact with all of our parishes, offering our help and support to those that need it, particularly those that haven’t got a formal plan in place. This support will help every community to be prepared across the borough.

Test Valley Borough Council is also a member of the Hampshire-wide Local Resilience Forum and it is that organisation who will help to coordinate the multi-agency response across the entire county.

Please be assured that, in everything it can, TVBC is working extremely hard to ensure that the essential services we provide to the community can and will continue. This is a time where everyone needs to pull together and take care of one another. Please do look after yourselves.


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