Coronavirus scams: advice from OCC

Residents have been warned to be on their guard against criminals and scammers exploiting the coronavirus situation.

In Oxfordshire, County Council’s Trading Standards has received reports of scams targeting people via emails, text messages, and on the doorstep.

There are many genuine community efforts to help residents; to provide good quality advice and support. But unfortunately, not everyone is trustworthy, and some people will take advantage of this unprecedented situation.

Here are some of the scams Trading Standards is aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online:

· Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19).

· People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.

· Emails offering a refund on taxes, utility bills, or similar are usually bogus and they are just after personal and bank details.

· There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect against or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.

· There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give updates on the virus, but instead they lock your phone and demand a ransom.

· People offering to do shopping or collect medication, asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

· People offering home cleaning services.

· Remember: Banks or the police will never ask for account details over the phone.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

· Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Do not be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it, or shut the door.

· Take your time; do not be rushed into making a decision that you will probably regret.

· If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone is trying to tempt you into accepting a service, they are unlikely to be genuine.

· Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if unsure.

· If online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Type-out email addresses. Don’t click on links in emails.

· Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.

· Protect your financial information, especially from people you do not know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.

· Know who you are dealing with. If you need help, talk to someone you know or use the contact numbers provided below.
Contact information:

· If you think you have been scammed, report it to Action Fraud:
0300 123 2040.

· If you need advice, call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline:
0808 223 1133.

· If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.

· Contact your bank if you think you have been financially scammed.

· Age UK’s runs a telephone support service (for older people and carers):
01865 411288.

To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk and complete the free online training.

Changes to The Bulletin & Parish Council meetings

The Bulletin
Due to issues surrounding delivery and a reduction in the volume of news items given the current situation, The Bulletin will not be distributed on a house-to-house basis until further notice. However, a link to the electronic version can be found on the Parish Council website (www.great-milton.co.uk): additionally the village shop will stock 50 copies specifically for those unable to access the website. Please contact the Parish Clerk if this raises any concerns.

Parish Council meetings
Due to restrictions currently imposed by UK Government on gatherings of more than two people, Parish Council meetings are suspended until further notice. Routine business (mainly payments, administrative necessities and evaluation of planning applications) will continue, and the Clerk is always available should you have any queries or concerns, whether related to ongoing public health issues or other matters. Any necessary updates will be relayed via the Parish Council website or via noticeboards.

SODC Coronavirus Update

Shielding our most vulnerable

Our most vulnerable residents across Oxfordshire will have recently received correspondence from the NHS, identifying them as high risk and advising them to strictly self-isolate for 12 weeks.

We know this long term restriction may cause additional concerns for those without any nearby support and we want to make sure any shielded resident, who doesn’t know where to turn, are not handling these additional worries alone.

Local authorities across Oxfordshire have worked with the local Voluntary and Community Sector, to develop a simple point of contact for those who have been told by government that they have been identified as extremely vulnerable, and who have no support network and would otherwise be completely isolated.

From Friday 27 March this new, dedicated line will provide our extremely vulnerable residents access to a central team who will be able to offer advice on a range of issues and will be operational from 8:30am to 8:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am – 5:00pm Saturday and Sunday.

If you or someone you know has been identified as extremely vulnerable by the NHS and have no support network, please contact the dedicated team on 01865 89 78 20 or email shield@oxfordshire.gov.uk. If you live in Oxford City, you can also phone 01865 24 98 11 between 8:00am and 5:00pm or visit www.oxford.gov.uk/CommunityAssistance

For those residents who are not in a high risk category but still in need of support, there are a number of initiatives taking place across the county. You can visit Oxfordshire All In or Oxford Together for more information on community support near you.

In South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse, anyone that is not considered high risk and does not have a support network around them to help, will be able to call their dedicated support line from 27 March at 9:00am on 01235 422600 or email communitysupport@southandvale.gov.uk

The County, City and District Councils in Oxfordshire are all working hard to maintain frontline council services, so for any queries related to everyday council service please check out the County, City or relevant District website.

For more advice and information on Covid-19, please visit Public Health England.

SODC Coronavirus Update Weds 25 March

Waste collections
The waste team’s well-tested service disruption plan is now in place.
Our waste contractor, Biffa, has suffered some staff shortages due to illness and self-isolation but is managing this by redeploying staff and using agency drivers.
However, with new crew members unfamiliar with the routes and in some cases fewer staff, it’s likely that on occasions, crews might not be able to complete all of their daily rounds and so some bins might not be emptied on their usual collection day. We empty 200,000 bins every week and so even a moderate level of disruption to our usual staffing can cause delays.
The advice for residents is as follows: if the bins in your street are not emptied, please leave them out for up to three days (including weekends) and we’ll try to catch up. If still not emptied, bring them back in and we will empty them on the next planned collection day.
We are working with Biffa to prioritise critical waste services. To help us with this plan we have suspended some non-essential services, including new bulky waste bookings, new garden waste subscriptions and investigating abandoned vehicles.
We will prioritise food, rubbish and clinical waste collections and some elements of street cleansing, including emptying litter bins.
We urge people to sort their waste carefully – food in food waste bins, rubbish in black bins and clean, dry, loose recycling in their green recycling bins. We’re also recommending residents wash their hands before and after taking the bins out to practice good hygiene for themselves and our bin crews.
We may have to suspend garden waste services so we can focus on essential waste collections, as other councils have, if this is the case, we will let everyone know through our social media sites and council websites.

COVID-19 scams
Thames Valley Police is urging people to be vigilant against criminals attempting to use the publicity around COVID-19 as a chance to target them with fraudulent emails, phone calls, text messages or door to door services.
To stay safe residents should follow this advice on Covid-19 related scams. Residents can also receive regular updates about potential scams in their area by signing up to Thames Valley Alert Community Messaging.
Please could we ask you to be extra-vigilant as you’re likely to hear about scams during your work with community groups. If you do hear of anything suspicious, contact the police on 111.

Supporting the vulnerable
This afternoon we have issued a public message with the other Oxfordshire councils to reassure people that they can continue to shop for and deliver food supplies to people who are vulnerable, elderly and self-isolating. This was in response to mixed messages circulating about this, following last night’s government announcement. The full text is here:
If you have been shopping for neighbours or family members who are vulnerable, elderly or self-isolating, please continue to do so. The government says you are allowed to leave your home to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. Just be careful to follow the usual guidance about washing your hands and keeping a safe distance from others. Where possible, it is sensible to leave the shopping on the doorstep for them rather than handing it to them directly.
Support for shops and businesses that have now closed
Many of our shops and other businesses have either closed or will be closing following the announcement last night that all but essential businesses need to do this.
If you know of or are contacted by anyone whose business or shop has been forced to shut, please remember to direct them to our South & Vale Business Support website. We already have lots of helpful information on there and our staff are working hard to ensure it is up to date each time the government provides more detail about the help available.’

COVID-19: Parish Support Programme

In the past week or so, there have been many offers of support and good ideas for helping each other during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.

One of the initiatives that you may have seen or heard of is the ‘Kindness Card’ system. We are adopting this for our Parish and have built up a group of volunteers who will fill out one of these cards and drop it through the letterboxes of an allocated group of houses to advertise their availability to help out.  The cards will be distributed as soon as possible within the next few days.   

If you need urgent help or advice, please contact Tim Darch, Parish Clerk/RFO on 07771 893191 and he will do what he can to assist.

South Oxfordshire District Council update – COVID-19 guidance

We’re in regular contact with partner organisations and monitoring and following the latest government and medical advice.

We have been reviewing our resilience plans so that we can continue to deliver our front-line public services to our residents.

We’ve kept our staff up to date on the latest situation and given guidance on how to minimise the spread of the virus. Where people are able to do so without affecting front line services, we have asked staff to work from home.

We have created a dedicated section on our public website to provide the latest information on our current response to the situation, but also announce any changes to service delivery.

As a precaution we are currently postponing any events or activities that are predominantly aimed at people in high risk groups such as chair yoga.

You may be interested to hear that AGE Concern Oxfordshire has today set up a new helpline to advise anyone worried about the Corona Virus. You can find out more by visiting their website https://www.ageuk.org.uk/oxfordshire/about-us/news/coronavirus/

The following websites are also very useful sources of information, which have been put together by government for the general public:

Public Health England website – updated daily – www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Public Health England have guidance on the symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do on their website – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
NHS 111 Coronavirus service has an online questionnaire that helps people to identify if they need to self-isolate – https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19
NHS information on how you can self-isolate, if required – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

We will keep in regular contact and will be doing what we can to work with local partners to ensure that vulnerable residents get the advice, help and support they will need over the coming weeks and months.

Communications
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils
01235 422400
www.southoxon.gov.uk | @southoxon
www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk | @whitehorsedc

Lavender lovers of Great Milton

Last Autumn we collected and were kindly donated, loads of
Lavender for our craft stall at the village fete. We are now hoping
to enlist your help again.

We are looking for ladies, or gentlemen if they feel inclined, to
sew a few lavender bags, of various sizes and shapes. If you are
feeling creative, then you can come up with ideas of your own –
As long as they are filled with Lavender, we are happy.

We have lots of lavender, plenty of ideas and some fabric and
ribbon, but would welcome any cotton fabric that you would like
to donate, as long as it is either plain or has a smallish pattern –
check, stripes or small flowers perhaps? – anything would be
gratefully received.

As our craft stall is a new addition to the village fete this year, we
would also welcome any other type of craft that you have made
and would like to donate, to make this a ‘go-to’ stall for everyone.
If you can help at all with your time or a gift, I would be grateful
if you could please email, phone, or drop a note through my door,
saying, in which way you may be able to help us.

Everyone -Thank you
Carole Greenhalgh.
Old Cottage
Lower End
Great Milton. Tel. 01844 278858 / mob. 07714328685 Email.
carole@ricadesign.co.uk

Maple Tree: Coronavirus update

At this moment in time, The Maple Tree will continue to run all sessions as usual.

We will follow all Government advice about closure and keep you updated accordingly if advice changes.

Can we respectfully ask that you do not attend our sessions if you or your child are ill (this includes bringing older children who may be off school sick).

Handwashing facilities are always available and there is sanitising gel available as you sign in.

Thank you for your cooperation