Coronavirus (2)

Corona2Good to hear from the Harrow council leader Cllr Graham Henson that “We’ll also soon be launching a new helpline on Coronavirus to get you the support you need to help you through this crisis” as many London councils have done so weeks ago.
Now the council coronavirus web page looks more informative and includes ‘coronavirus hotline telephone number’ 0208 901 2698 [we raised concern about the lack of support plan and contact point on 19 March]. However, this number reportedly gives a very confusing and unhelpful recorded message: “this line in now closed as the council is prioritising services essential for vulnerable” – please council what does this mean?
Current registered coronavirus cases in Harrow are 196.
The leader also assures that “during this difficult time we are here for you” and that “our teams have also been working incredibly hard to ensure the right support is available for the many of you facing hardship over the coming weeks and months”.
It would be helpful to know how to effectively access the council during this difficult time and who the “teams” are, what their brief is and how to contact them for support. Is the council deploying additional staff to answer residents telephone calls or emails?
The leader’s statement further informs “I want to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of our community resilience. Thank you to our community groups, partners and voluntary sector who we have been working closely with us to ensure our most vulnerable residents get the support they really need. From delivering food and essentials, to checking up on neighbours (at the safe distance) your support is invaluable”.
No doubt the community support in Harrow is remarkable but what the council could do to make it more effective and accessible, is to provide good leadership and coordinate the individual support initiatives or at least list out at the web page how and where to contact the community groups for support.
At times like this (and much difficult times ahead), high quality council communications are vital. This aspect of the council work needs good focus, especially as communication has not been a council strength over the years, under various administrations.
Also and under the challenging circumstances, there is a greater need for firm and really caring leadership locally and nationally.