Coronavirus: Sudbury councillors replace face-to-face surgeries for telephone calls, video chats and WhatsApp groups

Sudbury councillors Mary Daly, Saqib Butt and Thomas Stephens. Picture; Cllr Thomas Stephens

Sudbury councillors Mary Daly, Saqib Butt and Thomas Stephens. Picture; Cllr Thomas Stephens - Credit: Archant

Sudbury councillors have stopped location surgeries following government coronavirus guidance but will continue to help people by phone and video.

Face-to-face surgeries in BVRA (Barham Village Residents Association) Community Centre and Sudbury Methodist Church, both in Harrow Road, and borough-wide help at Sufra, in Pitfield Way, Stonebridge, have all been cancelled.

Instead they will offer telephone and video surgeries at the same day and time every month as their location meet-ups.

These are the first Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am, the second Saturday from 10am to 1pm and the final Saturday from 11am to 2pm.

On Monday Brent’s chief executive Carolyn Downs told a health and wellbeing meeting that everyone who could work from home should.

Cllr Thomas Stephens said: “We’re not stopping surgeries, we are still going to do them but they’ll be over the phone.

“The people who come to see us are often the most vulnerable, the over 70s and people with underlying health issues.

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“At Sufra people come to see us from all over the borough so we need to make sure people don’t make that journey.

He added: “People are still going about their lives abit. That will change next week, and the next and the week after when people will realise they have to stay at home.

“Some people, particularly older people in the borough are lonely and don’t have anyone to speak with.”

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

He said some people with acute issues who call might be referred straight to the council’s statutory services, which are currenly still operating.

The three councillors - Cllr Stephens, Cllr Mary Daly and Cllr Saqib Butt - have set up public WhatsApp groups in the neighbourhoods so people report any local street issues they see in the area – such as potholes, anti-social behaviour and fly tips – so they can raise these with the council.

They have also set up a Sudbury Covid 19 Mutual Aid Group with dozens of volunteers signing up to help their neighbours in need.

He praised the Mutual Aid groups that have sprung up in different wards including Willesden, Harlesden and Kilburn.

“It’s good people are supporting these groups as much as they can.”

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