Guidance for Friends, Volunteers and Employees of Darlington Town Mission
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Since the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak, the normal activities of Darlington Town Mission have been affected dramatically. All our fundraising events, monthly outings, Friends Forums and business meetings have been suspended. The amazing amount of home visits carried out by Sue and Hilary and volunteer visitors have also been curtailed. All of the Friends that we care for are over 80 years of age and many with pre-existing medical issues. This means that they are unable to leave their homes other than for urgent shopping or medical appointments.
However, the charity continues to give comfort and support by telephone calls and providing a limited amount of shopping services. When DTM staff and volunteers meet our Friends they have to follow government guidelines for hygiene and infection control guidelines illustrated on the BBC’s video and included under ‘How to avoid catching or spreading Coronavirus’ on the NHS website. This includes frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers before and after delivering shopping and social distancing i.e. avoiding being less than two metres away from Friends as they deliver shopping.
As far as possible our Friends should pay for their shopping by cheque but payment arrangements should be agreed in advance with the Missioners or volunteers.
If Friends are taken for medical appointments, visits to banks or building societies, they should use the back seats of the car and avoid physical contact with the driver. Taking Friends on shopping trips may be an unnecessary risk for them and for the drivers.
Keep safe and stay healthy.
DTM Secretary 23rd March 2020
Further notes below are largely taken from the NHS England website published 5th March 2020.
See https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ This on-line overview will be updated regularly as developments occur.
1. What’s the risk of coronavirus in the UK?
The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.
Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
2. What’s the risk of coronavirus for travellers?
There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.
3. Symptoms of coronavirus
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a cough
- a high temperature
- shortness of breath
But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
4. How coronavirus is spread
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.
5. Do I need to avoid public places?
Most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places.
You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.
6. How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- place used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
7. Check if you need medical help
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do. Use this service if:
- you think you might have coronavirus
- in the last 14 days you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus
- you’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus
8. Use the 111 coronavirus service
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Telephone the NHS helpline 111 if you need to speak to someone.
9. How to self-isolate if you’re asked to
If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate). This means you should:
- stay at home
- not go to work or public places
- not use public transport or taxis
- ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you
- try to avoid visitors to your home – it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food
- Inform our Missioner if you are self-isolating – Sue Allison – Tel. 0794 325 1357
- If Missioner or Assistant Missioner are self-isolating, telephone the DTM secretary
You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.
10. Treatment for coronavirus
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
You’ll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you’ve recovered.
Darlington Town Mission Vice-chair and Acting Secretary