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Residents will help Perth and Kinross emerge stronger from crisis

Local residents will play a key role in helping Perth and Kinross emerge stronger from the Coronavirus crisis, the Council's Chief Executive has said.

Speaking as the UK enters its eighth week of lockdown, Perth & Kinross Council Chief Executive Karen Reid said the "goodwill, generosity and positivity" of residents had shown them to be "true heroes" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Reid said: "It's already clear that we will not quickly be returning to the way things were before.  At the Council, we are starting to think about how we can provide services differently in the future - and we will need your help with this.  We will be carrying out a formal consultation to inform recovery and renewal, so please do take part and let us know how the outbreak has affected you, what has made it easier, and what still needs to change.

In the meantime, if you would like to share your ideas for renewal and how we can work together so that everyone in Perth and Kinross can live life well, please email PKOffer@pkc.gov.uk I am always keen to hear your ideas and views.

She added: "We don't know exactly what lies ahead. But we can make sure we are resilient and ready for change.  The past weeks have shown that the people of Perth and Kinross are true heroes: willing to do anything and everything they can to help.  And we have learnt, too, that everybody has something to offer. It is this attitude and mindset that makes me confident we will emerge from this crisis stronger than before."

The Chief Executive also praised community initiatives such as the Breadalbane Community Larder, which has seen community groups work together to turn phone boxes into food larders.

"That is just one example of the innovative collaboration going on across Perth and Kinross," she said.

"The Council's job alongside our statutory role to coordinate an emergency response, has been to support that community effort. We've done that in several different ways, with one shared outcome: ensuring vulnerable people get the food, medical and other vital supplies they need and they are safe in their homes."

Ms Reid added: "This part of our work is carried out by a specially set-up Community Welfare and Resilience team, made up of more than 70 colleagues who would normally be working in other services. The team has dealt with more than 2,500 enquiries so far, covering an area of over 5,000 square km and over 140 villages and towns as well as Perth city.  That includes people who needed foodpacks, shielded folk, those can't leave their homes because they're isolating - the queries have been varied and the team has found solutions to issues that nobody had predicted, as well as many that we had."

The full text of Chief Executive Karen Reid's statement:

In April, I recorded a video message for the people of Perth and Kinross, to say thank you for all of the support we've seen during the pandemic. It is now eight weeks since lockdown began, and people's goodwill, generosity and positivity continues to make a difference.

Communities across Perth and Kinross have come together to help each other, and I would like to share just one example of that here. People in Glen Lyon have come together to transform two phone boxes into food larders and book swaps. With contacts being provided by the Council and Breadalbane Community Larder, the community arranged to deep clean and stock the phone boxes. Tay Valley Timebanking, Breadalbane Community Larder, the Scouts Adventures Meggernie outdoor centre and, of course, local individuals, have provided food, books, toys and access to support with everything from shopping deliveries to mental health. And that is just one example of the innovative collaboration going on across Perth and Kinross.

The Council's job, alongside our statutory role to coordinate an emergency response, has been to support that community effort. We've done this in several different ways, with one shared outcome: ensuring vulnerable people get the food, medical and other vital supplies they need and they are safe in their homes.

This part of our work is carried out by a specially set-up Community Welfare and Resilience team, made up of more than 70 colleagues who would normally be working in other services. The team has dealt with more than 2,500 enquiries so far, covering an area of over 5,000 square km and over 140 villages and towns as well as Perth city.  That includes people who needed foodpacks, shielded folk, those can't leave their homes because they're isolating - the queries have been varied and the team has found solutions to issues that nobody had predicted, as well as many that we had.

Each week we send emergency food parcels are sent to those who are isolating or vulnerable. Communities themselves are organising help and support for many other people and we are immensely grateful for all this activity alongside the core statutory work which the Council is doing.

We've distributed more than 1,000 food packs to those who are vulnerable or in the Shielding category because they have particular medical conditions. We are topping up the foodbanks weekly, and helping to distribute other donations from supermarkets and via Fairshare.

You will shortly see a COVID-19 information leaflet we have produced, explaining what support is available during the outbreak, how you can protect yourself, and how you can support your local community.  The leaflet is being distributed across Perth and Kinross with the help of over 40 local community groups: a real demonstration of what can be achieved when we work together.

Local Action Partnerships have made their funding available to help local groups support families and individuals within their communities. This has included funding for newsletters and personal protective equipment for food preparation and distribution.

Our website, www.pkc.gov.uk/coronavirus is updated regularly, helping people know where they can turn to in their neighbourhood for help. We have had very positive feedback on this from many sources, even people living overseas who are worried about their family in Perth and Kinross and have been able to find practical support and information on our site.

We also had a fantastic response to our call for volunteers, with over 950 people registering to help. With their permission, all volunteers are on a geographical database which means that if we get a really urgent request for support, we can identify people nearby who are able to help.

The national volunteering recruitment campaign was paused in early May as there are currently enough people involved across Scotland, and this is reflected in our own experience. However, even if your help is not needed now, it probably will be as time goes on. The Council will continue to keep in touch with volunteers and community organisations and support them to do the great work they are already doing.

It's already clear that we will not quickly be returning to the way things were before. At the Council, we are starting to think about how we can provide services differently in the future - and we will need your help with this. We will be carrying out a formal consultation to inform recovery and renewal, so please do take part and let us know how the outbreak has affected you, what has made it easier, and what still needs to change. In the meantime, if you would like to share your ideas for renewal and how we can work together so that everyone in Perth and Kinross can live life well, please email PKOffer@pkc.gov.uk I am always keen to hear your ideas and views.

We don't know exactly what lies ahead. But we can make sure we are resilient and ready for change. The past weeks have shown that the people of Perth and Kinross are true heroes: willing to do anything and everything they can to help. And we have learnt, too, that everybody has something to offer. It is this attitude and mindset that makes me confident we will emerge from this crisis stronger than before. Thank you for all that you have done, and I look forward to continuing the journey with you.