E-Bulletin from 21 April 2020

Information published on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it is affecting our services.

Business Support Grants

West Lothian Council is administering the Coronavirus Business Support Fund for the area.

Certain businesses may be eligible for a one-off grant aimed at helping to:

  • Protect jobs,
  • Prevent business closure, and
  • Promote economic recovery.

Phase 1 saw a one-off grant of £10,000 is available to ratepayers of small businesses who receive Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Rate Relief. You can also get this grant if you are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme but receive Nursery Relief, Disabled Relief, Fresh Start, Business Growth Accelerator or Discretionary Sports Club Relief.

Phase 2 aims to help businesses with multiple properties and will open from 5 May 2020. Businesses will be able to apply for grants for all of their properties, making available Small Business Grants of £7,500 and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants of £18,750 on any additional qualifying properties that a ratepayer may have, subject to compliance with EU State Aid Rules.

More details at Coronavirus Business Support Fund

Thank you Kevin!

West Lothian Street Cleansing Operative, Kevin Farquahar, is currently volunteering to work with the council's Waste Services team. Council staff, such as Kevin, have moved into the Waste Service and helped the council maintain a full bin collection service to date. However, Kevin's efforts don't end after work finishes. Out of hours, Kevin also volunteers to provide a shopping service and to collect prescriptions for the elderly and vulnerable.

Kevin, who lives in Livingston said:

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, I decided after my own work had finished I would help vulnerable others, so I've been out helping the elderly and infirm by either taking them to Doctor appointments or helping them with their shopping etc. Partly the reason for me doing this is I have a grandmother who is unable to get around herself, so it was a no brainer for me to help out. I'm also a member of the Livingston Round Table who are dedicated to helping local communities, part of the project during this pandemic was to deliver school lunches to local residents."

West Lothian companies helping with ventilator manufacture

Two companies with facilities in West Lothian are part of an effort led by Babcock International Group, to design and produce more ventilators to ensure the NHS and social care sector has the support and equipment it needs to tackle COVID-19. Babcock International Group (Babcock) is leading on the design and production of 10,000 ventilators for the NHS in response to the UK Government's request for help from industry.  As well as working on a brand new prototype, a team of Babcock engineers and specialists has set up a supply chain solution from scratch. The team has worked night and day to set up the supply chain, and has enlisted a number of manufacturers to help with the assembly and production. Plexus and Raytheon UK, will both be supporting the production of ventilators from their Livingston and manufacturing facilities in addition to their other bases in Glenrothes and Kelso.

Anti-Poverty Service

The council's Anti-Poverty Service is proving invaluable after seeing a huge increase in demand for services. Last week the council issued 365 Scottish Welfare Crisis Care Grants - the highest number ever issued within one week. The team worked over the Easter weekend to ensure that claims were processed in time.

The Advice Shop, that is based at Bathgate Partnership Centre, is now also providing a Food Bank Distribution point that is open 5 days a week.  Many of the Foodbanks's distribution outlets were forced to close several weeks ago when social distancing measures came into force and many local volunteers had to self-isolate following government advice. The council and the West Lothian Foodbank stepped in to create an Emergency Distribution Hub and is proving to be vital in ensuring that households get access to food, toiletries and sanitary products.  They also had to supply clothing to those who are fleeing domestic violence. West Lothian Council also has a Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) in place for those that require assistance with their Council Tax. Customers can make a claim on-line.

The Advice Shop will continue to contact customers to help in the completion of the CTRS form along with any other benefits to which they may be entitled.  

Contact the Advice Shop on 01506 283000 or email at advice.shop@westlothian.gov.uk

Food funding

Financial support is being provided to a number of West Lothian organisations that provide food to local people. West Lothian Council is delivering a series of financial support measures across nine separate programmes. The funding of £1.7million through the Scottish Government national Hardship Fund will be spent on assistance to individuals and third sector/community groups and community councils. One of the nine local programmes will see £150,000 distributed to 15 community food providers to ensure they can continue to deliver food to those who are in need. The council is in the process of dispensing that funding amongst 15 providers which includes organisations such as 1st Steps in Linlithgow, The Sunday Dinner Lady, The Vennie, Whitburn CDT and Polbeth Community Hub.

More community groups will receive funding in the near future. 

The 15 groups so far include:

  1.  West Calder Community Development Trust
  2. 1st Steps Linlithgow
  3.  Boghall Drop In
  4. Stoneyburn and Bents Vision Group
  5. The Vennie
  6. Sunday Dinner Lady
  7. Polbeth Community Hub
  8. Whitburn Community Development Trust
  9. Fauldhouse Community Development Trust
  10. West Lothian Food bank
  11. West Lothian Financial Inclusion Network
  12. Ladywell Neighbourhood Network
  13. The Larder
  14. Riverside Community Fridge
  15. Braid House

West Lothian Secondary schools manufacturing protective visors for emergency services  

Secondary schools in West Lothian have been producing protective face visors to support staff on the frontline of the health and care services.

Staff in Design & Technology departments have been utilising their skills and resources such as 3D printers to create the protective equipment.

Once complete, the visors are delivered to the Health and Social Care Partnership central store where they will then be distributed appropriately.  

One of the schools involved is Linlithgow Academy with the school's Principal Teacher for Design Technology & Business Education, Nicola McKeeman, saying: "Across our Design & Technology community there has been a huge support and demand with departments across the county coming together to use their resources to help manufacture face visors to aid the frontline workers during this difficult time."

Carers of West Lothian  

Carers of West Lothian is open to take calls from any carers or disabled adults looking for support, information or advice on any issues relating to COVID19.  The team are taking phone calls on 01506 448000 or answering emails at office@carers-westlothian.com

Please also follow them on Facebook and Twitter, links available through their website at Carers of West Lothian where they are posting latest information and bulletins as well as news on Zoom peer support groups being run every week

Help for vulnerable people

The council is set to launch a new social media campaign to publicise how to get help for vulnerable children and adults. Contact email addresses and phone numbers for people to call regarding children, adults and domestic abuse are all being shared in a new eye-catching graphic.

Multi agency partners such Police Scotland have already agreed to support the campaign and share on their social media.

Burials in West Lothian Cemeteries

In light of the announcements by national government regarding measures to reduce / minimise social contacts and specifically in relation to burials in cemeteries, the following measures have been implemented in West Lothian:

  • Interments only will be permitted by the graveside and these are limited to 20 minutes duration and will be led  by clergy, celebrants etc.
  • Only immediate family members or close friends should attend funerals and they should adhere to social distancing measures throughout the burial.
  • In line with  government guidance we ask that the family member arranging the funeral does not pass on the date and time of the funeral to others to ensure the numbers attending are a very small group. .
  • Families should remain at least 10m from the hearse and the graveside to allow the cemetery staff and funeral directors to lower the coffin ahead of the family members being invited forward, this will reduce the exposure of staff to funeral parties and allow staff to clear the area before this happens. This will be coordinated by cemetery staff and the funeral directors.
  • Families will not be able to lower coffins into the grave. We appreciate that this is a challenging time for everyone and we ask for your support and cooperation during this difficult time.

We hope these measures help to keep you, our staff and the wider community safe.

 National guidance is available from the Scottish Government and can be found here

Stay INspired Challenge

Pupils will be taking part in the Stay INspired challenge which is a weekly, digital, shared learning experience, open to all schools across West Lothian. It offers young people an opportunity to challenge their skills, knowledge and understanding. Each weekly learning experience centres on three challenge tasks that are designed for pupils to explore independently and develop the skills needed to be purposeful, self-directed learners.

A new challenge will be shared every Wednesday via West Lothian Twitter channels and via TEAMs - West Lothian Leadership for continuity in learning.

Additionally, every week Education will also be publishing examples from 3 or 4 secondary schools of highlights of creative and innovative home learning.  This week you can read all about work in Bathgate Academy, The James Young High School and Whitburn Academy.  In addition, all schools have been using social media channels to keep pupils and parents up to date with learning. All secondary schools will feature over the coming weeks.

The home learning updates will be available on Learning at home

Domestic Bonfires

The council is urging residents to avoid burning household waste or other rubbish in their gardens.

The smoke from garden bonfires containing food waste, plastics and other material can pose a risk to people's health, particularly the vulnerable and those with respiratory problems. As well as potentially resulting in calls to the fire service.

Residents may also wish to consider composting garden waste and advice is available at Waste Can Wait - Home Composting

Advice on domestic bonfires is available at Domestic Bonfires

Building Services update

Building Services is continuing to review its activities in order to prioritise critical housing repairs.

The service is contacting tenants to make them aware of cancellations and further steps that may be required.

Further information on service activities can be found on Housing Updates

Thank you

To all those looking after others during this time

Adult Social Care Enquiry Team (ASCET)

The council's Adult Social Care Enquiry Team (ASCET) provide an essential central point of contact for all enquiries. 

Members of the ASCET team, are now working from home to respond to enquiries for services, such as those for Older People, Adults, Occupational Therapy and Support at Home.

Remote working technology is being used to ensure that the ASCET are able to provide the same level of service via remote working from home as they would from their office.

To contact the team, please email adultsocialcare@westlothian.gov.uk or call 01506 284848

Technology Enabled Care (TEC)

Key workers from a range of council services are still out delivering vital services despite the current situation.

Among them are the dedicated staff from the council's Technology Enabled Care (TEC) team, who still need to go into the homes of local residents to install essential home safety devices.

During a time where it can be difficult for family and friends to look out for loved ones, technology such as door sensors can alert care teams to when people leave the house, move from room to room and can even detect falls. The team follow social distancing measures when attending calls for the safety of themselves and local residents, and take steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as cleaning up working areas after installations.

West Lothian Street Cleansing Operative

West Lothian Street Cleansing Operative, Kevin Farquahar, is currently volunteering to work with the council's Waste Services team.

Council staff, such as Kevin, have moved into the Waste and helped the council maintain a full bin collection service to date.

However, Kevin's efforts don't end after work finishes. Out of hours, Kevin also volunteers to provide a shopping service and to collect prescriptions for the elderly and vulnerable.

Free school meals and keyworker childcare continues

The past few weeks has seen a great amount of collaboration between Education and Operational Services to continue the provision of free school meals and to ensure childcare is in place for critical keyworkers across West Lothian. 

Shielding support for vulnerable

Over 560 people in West Lothian have contacted West Lothian Council following the delivery of Shielding letters.

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically at high risk from the coronavirus, by supporting them to self-isolate to minimise all interaction with others. Shielding measures should be used when an extremely vulnerable person is living in their own home, with or without additional support. This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus. The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland has written to all those deemed as being clinically high risk. Local authorities have put in place support for those that don't have anyone else to help.

The council has a team from across a number of service areas working to deliver parcels to those in need.  

Find more information about Shielding

Waste Collection Services

The council's Household Waste Collection service has been maintained throughout. The team have been overwhelmed with support with residents, many of whom are leaving out teddy bears and posters for the crews to show their support and appreciation. Our crews proudly display some of them. Thanks you again for your patience and support shown to our staff