Coronavirus updates and guidance

Coronavirus graphic

It’s important we all continue to take steps to prevent the spread of the illness, and support our staff and volunteers in different ways as restrictions change and organisations continue to re-open and resume activities.

What we're doing

Connected Voice has a small team based in our Newcastle office whilst the majority of staff remain working from home, but we're not yet open to the public. We will be continuing to do most of our work digitally for the time being and this is being regularly reviewed.

Our phone line is diverted so you can still speak to the team any time you want to.

We have been continuing to work with Newcastle and Gateshead Councils on their community response and the latest information and advice from the Councils can be found at the following links:

Newcastle City Council COVID guidance

Gateshead Council COVID Guidance

Our Events and Services

Many of the staff within our team are carrying on their work as normal, albeit remotely - particularly the Advocacy and Charity Business Services Finance teams.

Our Advocacy Services are still running with a combination of remote/homeworking and essential visits. You can find out more here: Advocacy Services during COVID-19

The Support and Development team are available for advice and support via email and telephone. Please let us know if you would like some practical support.

We have been running our events and training as Zoom sessions and will continue to do so for our Autumn programme of Training. For more information about the Autumn programme and booking links visit: Connected Voice Training.

Key advice for your organisation

We have had a high number of requests for support from organisations on how to ensure their volunteers stay safe, and they manage their community facilities safely.

The government guidance is now:

  • Wash hands - keep washing your hands regularly
  • Cover face - wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • Make space - stay at least 2 metres apart - or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions

If you have Coronavirus symptoms:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

Get a test now

Do not leave home for at least 10 days after your test.

Changes from 14 October

The Prime Minister set out on October 12 how the government will further simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England set at Medium, High, and Very High.

North East; Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham, are currently classified in the 'High' level.

You can read the latest regulations from Government on restrictions in the North East here as the region is placed in the 'High' bracket, the second tier of the Government's three-tier system. Regulations applied from October 14.

Changes from 22 September

On 22 September, the government announced new measures to suppress the virus. Some of these new restrictions will be set out in the law and guidance. The police and other enforcement officers are able to issue penalties to those that don’t comply with law.

The "Rule of 6" 

The Government has announced the reduction of the number of people to 6 who can meet up together both indoors and outdoors from the 14 September. Read the full updated guidance here.

The main section in the 'Rule of 6' guidance for voluntary and community organisations is Section 2.10 - When can I gather in groups of more than 6?

If you live in a household with more than 6 people, you can continue to gather in and attend all settings together. This same applies for your support bubbles. All venues should continue to accommodate groups larger than 6 who live together or are in the same support bubble to gather in and use their services and venues.

There will be exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, including:

  • where everyone lives together or is in the same support bubble, or to continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
  • for work, and voluntary or charitable services
  • for education, training, or registered childcare (including wraparound care)
  • fulfilling legal obligations such as attending court or jury service
  • providing emergency assistance, or providing support to a vulnerable person
  • for you or someone else to avoid illness, injury or harm
  • participate in children’s playgroups
  • wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, or for other religious life-cycle ceremonies – where up to 30 people will be able to attend
  • funerals – where up to 30 people will be able to attend
  • organised indoor and outdoor sports, physical activity and exercise classes 
  • youth groups or activities
  • elite sporting competition or training
  • protests and political activities organised in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance and subject to strict risk assessments

Further details can be found at the Government Coronavirus FAQs

The safe use of multi-purpose community facilities

The Government has updated its guidance on the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities

Community buildings re-opening advice: Risk assessment templates to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, community members and customers: Risk Assessments for Community Buildings

Managing local outbreaks

New restrictions for North East from 18 September

Following a spike in COVID-19 cases across the region, increased restrictions will be in place across the North East from Friday 18 September.

People will not be able to mix outside of their own households and support bubbles, and pubs and restaurants will have a 10pm curfew and table service only. Only essential visits to care homes and hospitals will be allowed.

People should work from home where possible. Public transport should only be used for essential travel, for example to schools or workplaces. 

An infographic describing in simple terms the current North East restrictions can be downloaded here: Regional COVID Guidelines Poster

We have been continuing to work with Newcastle and Gateshead Councils on their community response and the latest information and advice about the increased restrictions from the Councils can be found at the following links:

Newcastle City Council COVID guidance
Gateshead Council COVID Guidance

Gateshead Public Health have published updated guidance about the restrictions from 18 September: Gateshead COVID-19 restrictions FAQs

For more information about the Government's approach to managing local outbreaks click here.

Joint COVID-19 statement from the seven North East local authorities and the North of Tyne Combined Authority

"Infection rates are rising quickly. We cannot allow it to get out of control. Please work with us and do your bit to keep our great region safe."
Read the full statement from local leaders here.

Changes to DBS ID checking guidelines - guidance allows:

  • ID documents to be viewed over video link
  • scanned images to be used in advance of the DBS check being submitted

Read the updated guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-changes-to-dbs-id-checking-guidelines

Benefits advice: Newcastle City Council now has a special webpage on Coronavirus and benefitsNewcastle City Council Benefits guidance

Charity Business Services advice: Expanded Coronavirus Job Support Scheme

Safeguarding: Newcastle City Council has also produced safeguarding guidance for adults self isolating and a general adult safeguarding poster that can be shared.

Specific information for charities: NCVO has produced detailed advice for VCSE organisations, which links to the relevant public health information. The information is changing on a daily basis so rather than replicate it here we urge you to look at the links.

Working from home: We realise that digital working is not possible for everyone. For those of you who can do it, Charity Digital has produced some useful guidance on tools for working remotely. Mark Shilcock, OurGateshead Officer, has written a useful blog on his experiences of working from home - Top Ten Tips for Working from Home

Preventing the spread of Coronavirus

Detailed guidance is available on the government website:

Staying Safe outside your home

Face coverings: When to wear one

Supporting diverse communities

Haref continues to share information with BAME community groups across Newcastle and Gateshead.

Members of some communities are experiencing acts of racism, discrimination and verbal abuse with the outbreak of the virus. Stop Hate UK is providing anyone experiencing or witnessing such discrimination with a confidential 24-hour third-party reporting service.

Doctors of the World has translated advice into a number of languages https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/news/coronavirus-information/

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