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Volunteers come forward to offer their assistance amid Covid-19 chaos

PUBLISHED: 13:06 24 March 2020

Kent's Chief Constable has a warning for the public amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Kent Police

Kent's Chief Constable has a warning for the public amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Kent Police

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A flood of people are coming forward to volunteer in Gravesend to help others stuck indoors.

Gravesham Council’s leader John Burden said: “We are extremely proud of our community in Gravesham and are aware that many of you have already been helping your elderly and vulnerable neighbours during this difficult time.

“We have been contacted by a number of you who are keen to volunteer and help where you can.

“The best support you can give at this time is to those within your local neighbourhood.

“Your details will be shared with NWK Volunteer Centre who are working with us and other agencies to provide support at this time.

There are lots of opportunities to help, including assisting at food banks, picking up shopping on behalf of neighbours or offering telephone support.”

People wanting to volunteer and have not been in contact with anyone with the virus, can do so here www.gravesham.gov.uk/volunteer

Gareth Johnson, the MP Dartford, warns there are “darker times ahead” from the “evil” virus.

He said: “My office is dealing with a substantial number of queries so please be patient – we are doing our best to work our way through them.

“This is a challenging time for us all. Supplies of many items in the supermarkets are low or non-existent but the supply chains are operational and most local stores are recruiting new workers to help cope with the increased demand both in store and online.

“This virus is an evil that has affected us all but we will bounce back. There are still darker times to come but if we all continue to pull together and follow advice, we will beat it.

“I can’t claim I have all the answers, but I want you all to know that I will do my best to help you.”

Still with politics, and Gravesham Council has postponed the Westcourt ward by-election due on April 16 with no new date yet set.

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Gravesham Civic Centre is also now closed to visitors until further notice with all business now done on its website or by phoning 01474 337000. Many staff now work from home.

Eligible Gravesham businesses now do not need to apply for relief on business rates – the council will automatically amended bills to those who qualify, confirming that there will be no business rates payable from April 1. There are also some cash grants and council leader John Burden adds: “I appreciate the impact Covid-19 is having on our business community.”

To help those stuck at home, staff at Broadditch Farm Shop are making free deliveries.

They are limited to a radius of five miles from DA13 9PU and only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and be for a minimum of £10. In keeping with new distancing rules, the driver will call and then leave the order outside to be picked up.

And NHS Blood and Transplant said they need donors to keep coming, and a spokesman said: “Our sessions and donor centres are still open. Travel to blood donation sessions is essential to the NHS. Our stock levels are currently good but we need people to keep donating to make sure hospitals continue to receive the blood they need. Regular donation will help us to be well prepared to support the wider NHS for the impact of the coronavirus. We have seen an increase in calls from people asking if sessions are going ahead and people asking questions about coronavirus. “We’re putting in place extra safety measures.”

Kent Community Foundation said it is supporting charities and community groups facing extreme difficulties. Its Coronavirus Emergency Fund will take applications for grants of up to £10,000, from charities, with an annual income of £200,000 or less, to fill the gap that not being able

to fundraise during the Coronavirus restrictions, will inevitably create.

It is also a time when criminals could strike. The National Crime Agency warned organised crime groups will exploit the coronavirus outbreak to target vulnerable people.

Steve Rodhouse, NCA director general said: “We recognise that the Covid-19 outbreak may provide opportunities for criminals, and we are monitoring intelligence and crime trends to ensure that we, and the whole law enforcement system, can react as needed.”

Its cyber-crime investigators have already seen instances of coronavirus-themed malicious apps and websites, as well as email phishing attacks aimed at stealing personal and financial information.

The NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit is advising people to be extra vigilant when seeking out online information relating to the pandemic and to ensure they are following online safety advice which can be found on the National Cyber Security Centre website.

With new restrictions on leaving home, Kent’s chief constable Alan Pughsley warns: “We have seen reports over the weekend of large groups of people intentionally gathering to socialise both in Kent and across the rest of the UK and I would ask people to consider the implications of doing so not just on themselves, but others they will come into contact with.

“Our officers have attended these incidents to reiterate the Government’s advice but it is an example of unnecessary contact for everyone involved, including the officers who could be using their time more effectively.”


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