Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Coronavirus Torfaen

Not Out and About In Torfaen

Links to and brief overviews of up to date info on what's happening in Torfaen.

For council services information, check out Torfaen's special coronavirus webpage. All customer care centres are closed, instead you can apply for things online, email your.call@torfaen.gov.uk, or ring 01495 762200.

Wales is currently on a 'soft' lockdown for three weeks with all non-essential high street stores (essential = supermarkets/food shops, newsagents, pharmacies, bicycle shops, banks, post offices, home and hardware stores, pet shops, vets, funeral homes, laundrettes/dry cleaners, and petrol stations) closed and bans on public gatherings of more than two people not from the same household. If you are not a key worker you can still go out once a day to exercise, buy food and / or medicine, attend medical appointments, and to look after vulnerable people. Police have the power to fine and disperse public gatherings, but for the moment it is essentially operating on a trust basis. For updates follow @fmwales.

For more on the general situation follow Nick Thomas-Symonds, Lynne Neagle, and Anthony Hunt - Torfaen's MP, AM, and Council Leader.

Most areas have regular and coronavirus community pages on Facebook too. I'm on Northville Community Group, Pontnewydd Park and Village, and Cwmbran Coronavirus Support.

If you have any info you want added / have anything I can help with drop me an email at jess@babiafi.co.uk or jessica.powell@torfaen.gov.uk, or tweet me at @jess__powell.



Covid 19

HEALTH & WELLBEING

Torfaen comes under Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Vaughan Gething (Welsh Government Health Minister) has announced that the new Grange University Hospital in Croesyceiliog will open a year early to provide an extra 350 beds for Covid-19 patients. Meanwhile, all ABUHB hospital visiting has been stopped, bar a single parental/guardian visitor for children on in-patient wards and a birthing partner for deliveries.

Public Health Wales posts an update of Welsh cases and deaths every day at around 2pm, along with the latest guidance on social-distancing and testing - you can find them on THIS PAGE.

If you think you have coronavirus the advice is to stay home for at least 7 days and drink plenty of fluids. If your symptoms grow worse and you feel you cannot cope at home, ring 111. There may be a considerable wait on the line, but please only ring 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

For other issues, most GP surgeries are operating a triage system for urgent appointments only, and many of the appointments that do go ahead will be taken over the telephone or video link. Similarly nursing appointments will only be given for essential services - e.g. Cwmbran Village Surgery lists those as INR/Warfarin & High Risk Drug Monitoring, Urgent or clinically needed Blood tests, Urgent ECG's, Depo-Provera Injections, Dressings/Packings/Removal of Stitches, B12 Injections, Prostate Cancer Injections, and Childhood Immunisation. Check your GP's website for individual restrictions.

Repeat prescriptions are generally operating normally but if you need to change / update / renew you should probably brace yourself for long wait times on the phones if you're registered at a surgery without a dedicated online prescription service. Pharmacies remain open, albeit with social distancing restrictions, and if you have a scheduled hospital, etc, appointment they ask for you to wait to be contacted with details rather than clogging up the phone lines with enquiries.

Social shielding details are still being fine tuned by Welsh Government with the expectation that people will be contacted some time this week.

Disability reviews and reassessments for the DWP have been suspended for three months.

Gwent Drug & Alcohol Service are still operating on a reduced basis. The needle exchange at The Lighthouse in Pontypool is staying open.

Anyone over 70 in Wales can register with Age Cymru, free of charge, to receive a regular telephone call from the charity in either English or Welsh.  All you have to do is call the Age Cyrmu advice number on 08000 223 444 or email enquiries@agecymru.org.uk. For other third sector initiatives, check out TVA's - Torfaen Voluntary Alliance - website.

For real time updates follow @AneurinBevanUHB, @PublicHealthW, @TheGDS, and @VaughanGething on Twitter.



Education

EDUCATION

If your child is eligible for free school meals, you can get a week's worth of food to make lunches - see HERE. From April 6th money will be paid directly into your bank account instead; you need to fill out a form HERE.

Crownbridge, the Pupil Referral Unit and the SNRBs are remaining open, while mainstream provision is being restricted to Blaenavon Heritage, George Street, Llantarnam and Blenheim Road primary schools and Croesyceiliog Secondary for the children of key workers - Health Care staff, Social Care and Care Home Staff, and Police, Fire and Armed forces personnel. For more details on eligibility see THIS PAGE. (From Monday 30th applications from other key worker categories will be considered.)

Most exams have been cancelled and grades will be awarded based on teacher assessment, predicted grades, and potentially other measures. More information will be announced by Welsh Government in due course.

Individual schools are providing online learning resources for pupils.

The Children's Commissioner for Wales has set up an online hub with hints and tips for activities, etc.

I've put together a list of 50 free online Welsh language resources.

CCYP (Cwmbran Centre for Young People) are offering online courses on a range of topics for people aged 16-25. Email leila.long@ccyp.org.uk for more info.

For real time updates follow @wgmin_education, @torfaencouncil, and individual schools on Twitter.



transport

TRANSPORT

Stagecoach South Wales are operating on a temporary timetable from Wednesday March 25th until further notice; the X24 will run every 20 minutes. There are no Stagecoach buses running on Sundays. Phil Anslow Buses are operating Saturday timetables for all their services. Newport Bus are also operating all services on a Saturday timetable, but if you're an emergency services worker in Cwmbran they are offering free alternative transport if it means you can't get to work - email your contact details, workplace and shift times to nhs-support@newporttransport.co.uk.

Transport for Wales are running reduced rail services (aka Sunday timetables) - insert joke about not knowing it could get any worse here - for essential travel only. NHS workers travel free.

Taxi operators are currently running services more or less as normal. See Dragon Taxis for more info. NHS workers get a £1.50 discount on every journey.

For real time updates follow @StagecoachWales, @anslowcoaches, @NewportBus, @transport_wales, and @DragonTaxisNPT on Twitter.



Housing and Bills

HOUSING & BILLS

Landlords - social and private alike - will not be able to evict tenants for at least the next three months. Homeowners and landlords with buy to let mortgages can apply for a three month mortgage holiday by contacting their bank directly. There is still no word on rent protections for tenants, though if you are with a RSL (registered social landlord) speak to them and they will be able to put a support plan in place.

For Melin email enquiries@melinhomes.co.uk or, if it's an emergency, ring 01495 325333. They are regularly updating their temporary service webpage HERE. For Bron Afon you can email enquiries@bronafon.org.uk or they have a non-emergency contact form; you should get a reply within three days. For emergency issues, call 01633 620 111. They are updating their news pages HERE.

If you are facing homelessness or need urgent advice contact the Torfaen Gateway Team on 01495 766949. For help with benefit applications and such you can contact Torfaen Citizen's Advice on 01633 876121 or 0300 330 2117 to arrange a telephone appointment.

All current Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) entitlements ending at the end of March or beginning of April will automatically be extended until October 4. Renewal applications will be in September. If you are struggling to pay your council tax contact Torfaen (your.call@torfaen.gov.uk / 01495 762200) so they can look into your potential eligibility for council tax reduction and other benefits.

If you're struggling to pay your energy bills, ring your supplier as you may be eligible for emergency credit. Similarly, if you're on a key or card meter they can take payments over the phone and / or send out preloaded credit for those unable to purchase any.

The DWP has set up a coronavirus and Universal Credit advice page HERE. You can receive up to a month's advance without attending a jobcentre.

Waste and recycling collections are currently running as normal - though tissues and wipes must go into general waste bins, not recycling boxes. Bulky item and green bin (garden waste) collection has been suspended for the duration.

For real time updates follow @MelinHomes, @BronAfon, and @torfaencouncil on Twitter.



Food

FOOD

If your child is eligible for free school meals, you can get a week's worth of food to make lunches - see HERE. From April 6th money will be paid directly into your bank account instead; you need to fill out a form HERE.

Community meal services are running as normal.

Foodbanks are open but struggling for donations. The Council has funds to provide food to them - at the moment it's just the matter of finding the bulk stock to buy. CoStar Cwmbran has emergency food parcels available; ring them on 01633 869227 for more info.

Local restaurants still offering delivery include:
 - Domino's Cwmbran.
 - Elachi Cwmbran.
 - Family Kebab Cwmbran.
 - Kaspa's Cwmbran.
 - Khan Tandoori Cwmbran.
 - Koks Wok Newport.
 - Mr. Chippy Cwmbran.
 - Page's Fish and Chips Cwmbran.
 - Papa John's Cwmbran.
 - Pizza Hut Cwmbran.
 - Tamarind Cwmbran.
 - Yummies Cwmbran.

Cwmbran Fresh Produce - 01633 833856 - can deliver fruit and veg.

Torfaen council is putting together a directory of local shops and food businesses who are offering home delivery. For inclusion, send your business name, website address, contact number, type of food on offer, and delivery area to create@torfaen.gov.uk.

Supermarkets (check links for vulnerable and NHS hours):
 - Aldi Cwmbran.
 - Asda Cwmbran.
 - Farm Foods Pontypool.
 - Heron Foods Cwmbran.
 - Iceland Cwmbran. (9-10am for the vulnerable; 5-6pm for NHS)
 - Iceland Pontypool.
 - Lidl Cwmbran.
 - Morrisons Cwmbran.
 - Sainsbury's Cwmbran.
 - Tesco Pontypool.

Other places you can still get food home delivery from:
 - Allplants.
 - Approved Food.
 - Balance Box.
 - Clearance XL.
 - Cut Price Barry's.
 - Hello Fresh.
 - Jane Plan.
 - Marco Meals.
 - Mindful Chef.
 - Morris's of Usk Farm Shop.
 - Muscle Food Meat.
 - No. 1 Food Prep.
 - Nourish Fit Food.
 - Riverford.
 - Star Bargains.
 - The Fish Society.



Leisure

LEISURE

It's all closed...

Library books will be automatically renewed, and you can still access a number of online library resources. The library blog is also worth checking out for further info of literary resources around the web.

Torfaen Leisure Trust are posting full length workout vids to their YouTube channel - so far they have pilates, tai chi, weights, and zumba. The staff at TLT are also available to chat to vulnerable and older customers for reassurance - give them a ring on 01633 627100 or email enquiries@torfaenleisuretrust.co.uk.

If you see any anti-social behaviour or large groups of people together, report it to communitysafetyteam@torfaen.gov.uk

Playparks, etc, are locked but canalside walks and so on are still accessible. Cemeteries are remaining open from 9am to 5pm.

Torfaen Museum are asking residents to write up their school memories and email them in - along with any photos they might have - to torfaenmuseum@outlook.com as part of an ongoing project.

For real time updates follow @TorfeaenLibrary, @TorfaenLeisureT, and @Torfaen Museum.



Not Today Covid-19




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