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News

25th March 2020

Shielding the most medically vulnerable – Local support system guidance update

This is a short update on the ‘Shielding’ work MHCLG are working on with Government and LRFs to
protect the most medically vulnerable. This policy was announced by the Prime Minister on
Sunday – full details are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-onshielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shieldingand-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Guidance on the Local Support System to ‘Shield’ c.1.5m most medically vulnerable
One of the key aspects of this Shielding policy is the development of a new Local Support System
to ensure that support is supplied to those most in clinical need as they are shielded from the
virus. We have now produced guidance to help you deliver this. It sets out our three-fold offer to
support those who are shielding themselves, but do not have a support network that they can rely
on:
1. Food: we are working with the food industry to deliver basic food parcels directly to the
doorsteps, though there is a role for local authorities to play;
2. Medicines: community pharmacies will supply and organise delivery;
3. Social contact: local authorities, working with the voluntary and community sector, are
asked to continue to care for those who might be feeling very isolated.

As you know, we are prioritising those in the high-risk group who are unable to rely on family or
friends for adequate practical support throughout the period of shielding. For this group we are
arranging for the provision of a basic package of food and household essentials to be supplied
and delivered by major food service suppliers with established national delivery infrastructure. As
set out in the guidance, this will take a little while before being fully operational. Thank you for
everything you have done so far and for your continued patience and input as we have written
this. It is a live document which has been written at pace – we welcome feedback on how we can
improve it, and will issue updated versions as the system beds in.

Meeting emergency/urgent need in the short term
Since the package of support was announced on Sunday, letters and texts have begun to arrive
with the first group of that c.1.5 million cohort of clinically most vulnerable people, inviting them
to log onto a website or call a hotline. One question that members of the 1.5m cohort will answer
during this process relates to their basic care needs, and if they can meet these. If the answer is no,
we will capture this data to help ensure that these people’s needs are met. We are asking local
authorities to be part of the response for food (although the bulk of food provision is handled by
the food industry) and social contact. VCS organisations are mobilising to support the effort too:
for example the NHS has launched a volunteering campaign today which can be called upon at a
local level where appropriate to help with community response work.

Emergency provision of food to those urgently in need
It is, of course, enormously challenging for communities, businesses and public bodies to scale up
support systems at pace. Through conversations with food industry partners, we have identified
that we may be able to supply some of those in urgent need with emergency supplies, to tide
them over until the full system (of boxed up parcels arriving at people’s doors) is up and running
very soon. This issue is captured in the guidance, but I wanted to draw it to your attention
separately here. However, it is important to note that this offer of emergency help is not intended
to replace the full offer of boxes arriving from food industry warehouses to the front doors of the
most medically vulnerable who have no social network to support them.

To meet any immediate, emergency need that the system reveals, our food industry partners have
agreed to quickly deliver some bulk supplies to some or all (depending on local need) of the 132
local authority ‘hubs’ nominated by the LRFs (or to a location serving groups of hubs) which you
have moved quickly to form into across the country. Food delivered in this way will not mirror the
contents of the boxes and will draw on what’s available to suppliers. The national offer will be
equivalent to the volumetric equivalent of 10k boxes. The emergency goods will not be packed
into the individual boxes which the full Local Support System will provide as the system gears up,
but will be larger consignments of basic foodstuffs which you can store and distribute locally as
needed. You will be allocated a proportion of the volume of food available and deliveries should
arrive in the coming days on an emergency basis only, for those who are in immediate, urgent
need of food. The items will be ‘ambient’ and do not require refrigeration or other special storage
facilities. To deliver these bulk orders to you, we will require a location and contact name/number
for each hub’s storage facility. The fewer bulk orders we make the easier it is for our food industry
partners; so if you are able to work together as groups of hubs and just supply one storage point
serving several hubs, then that could help with logistics. But we will be guided by what works best
for you and your residents.

Request for each LA hub lead to provide a location for any emergency bulk order
To be able to put this emergency plan into action, we would now require each LRF nominated
local authority hub lead to provide the address of a suitable storage facility where your hub, or
wider group of hubs, would like to receive this emergency bulk order. This might be a school or
church hall or other large space which could accommodate pallets or large boxes of goods. We
would expect this to have appropriate security and to possibly be staffed during certain hours to
ensure that the food reaches the medically most vulnerable. Once we have the details of your
preferred storage facility, we will be able to provide further details on the exact size of the
consignment, the space that will be required and the times/dates of delivery. Therefore, with
apologies for the very tight deadline, we would be grateful if you each local authority named hub
lead could please complete the pro-forma (click here to download) to confirm the location where
your hub (or group of hubs, if partnering with others) would like to receive this emergency bulk
consignment of food and email it to shielding@communities.gov.uk by 8pm on the 25th March,
marking your email ‘Emergency Bulk Hub Delivery.’

Summary
To reiterate, this is not intended to replace the full Local Support System offer – which is gearing up
now and will see ‘picked and packed’ boxes arriving from food industry warehouses to the front
doors of the most medically vulnerable who have no social network to support them. There is no
obligation to accept this bulk delivery. But if local hubs feel they have a need of it – and have the
means to receive and store produce and disperse it through local delivery mechanisms – we hope
this offer can help to ensure that those who need food now, will not be left without.

Click here to download the Guide for Local Authorities and Local Resilience Forums on the system to support those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

Click here to download the Emergency Storage Facility Proforma.