VideoCouncil chief praises the dedication of Team Devon

Photo of Cllr John Hart sat at a desk

Posted on: 31 March 2020

Hundreds of council workers in Devon are operating as another emergency service during the coronavirus crisis according to county council leader John Hart, who has praised their dedication.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the way staff have responded to the crisis in so many different ways over the past few weeks,” he said.

“Team Devon is on the front line of the battle against this virus.”

This weekend hundreds of extremely vulnerable people have been contacted by county and district workers as part of the ‘shielding’ effort to ensure everyone who has to stay home for 12 weeks receives essential food, medicine and additional care if they live alone
and do not have family or friends to support them.

“This has been a huge out-of-normal-hours effort by everyone involved and provisions have now arrived in Devon ready for immediate distribution by our district colleagues,” said Mr Hart.

“It is just one example of how we are supporting NHS staff in their valiant efforts to control this deadly disease.”

Work is also under way to convert the Hampton at Hilton hotel in Exeter to provide temporary beds for people being discharged from hospital to free up ward space for more intensive care facilities.

“The county council is working closely with our hospitals to ensure that anyone who can be cared for in their own homes, in residential homes or in these temporary facilities can be safely discharged with proper support,” he said.

“We are currently working on a number of other, similar options around Devon in case existing care home capacity becomes insufficient.

“And we are supporting our care staff directly by strongly lobbying the Government to ensure they have all the protective equipment they so badly need to continue their vital work supporting their elderly and vulnerable clients.

“We are also in direct contact with the police over the small minority of ignorant people who have been abusing our staff and accusing them of spreading the virus while they are working to support some of our most vulnerable people who may well have no one else to help them.

“We will not tolerate this type of behaviour and we will not hesitate to support the police in prosecuting them.”

On a much more positive note, Mr Hart also praised the headteachers and staff of around 160 schools across Devon who are working over the Easter holidays to provide care and support for the children of key workers like doctors and nurses and people working in food distribution.

“This is just another excellent example of real dedication on the part of the people of Devon in helping to keep the services available for those who need it,” he said.

“We are also working with the district, town and parish councils in a way that I can only call Team Devon. There is a tremendous community spirit existing across Devon to support those who need help, be they young or old and especially the vulnerable.”

Mr Hart also highlighted the work of Devon’s schools support company, Babcock, which is posting regular updates of learning resources and ideas on its website for staff in schools and mums and dads throughout the county who are trying to teach their children at home.

Mr Hart said the county had also launched an action fund to provide up to £500 to organisations working in communities to tackle the social and economic impacts of the virus outbreak and help the most vulnerable. More than 100 organisations have already applied.

Devon’s highways teams are continuing to make essential safety repairs on the county’s roads in order to maintain the local network for key workers and trading standards officers are on alert to try to police the increasing number of financial scams and sales of counterfeit goods by criminals trying to cash in on the coronavirus crisis.

“I said some weeks ago that Devon County Council would do whatever it takes to help our residents through this crisis and these are examples of what we are doing. But none of it would be properly effective without the dedication and spirit of our staff and I want to pay tribute to that,” said Mr Hart.

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