Covid-19 update – 18 March 2021

Dear volunteer coordinators and parish councillors

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend our community briefing webinar on Monday. For those who would like to review the webinar there are some key points such as the Long Covid update presented by Dr Poole, a GP from Histon Surgery, and a vaccination update from Martin Niven, Lead Planner for the Cambridge and Peterborough COVID-19 vaccinations programme. The briefing was well attended and there were lots of interesting questions, so it’s well worth a watch.

COVID rapid testing

School and parent/guardian testing

With schools now reopened, please continue to spread the word that regular home testing is now available to help stop the spread of the virus. Free tests can be ordered online, or collected from local pickup points.

Reminder of the testing sites in Cambridgeshire

  • The Hub, High Street, Cambourne, South Cambridgeshire CB23 6GW
  • Queen Mary Centre, Queen’s Road, Wisbech, Fenland PE13 2PE
  • Soham Town Rangers Football Club, Julius Martin Lane, Soham, Ely, East Cambridgeshire CB7 5EQ
  • The Coneygear Centre, Buttsgrove Way, Huntingdon PE29 1PE
  • The Meadows Community Centre, 1 St Catherine’s Road, Arbury, Cambridge CB4 3XJ

Book rapid testing and Lateral flow FAQs

Vaccination update

Vaccines for people over the age of 50

The National Booking Service is now open to all those aged 50 and over. Book a Covid-19 vaccination now via or, for those who are not online, by calling 119.

Vaccine Team

While there are enough vaccinators to be able to deliver the number of doses available to the NHS, this will continue to be a huge task, and to ensure the NHS can continue to vaccinate millions of people as quickly as possible – at the same time as keeping other vital services going – the NHS is recruiting thousands of paid and volunteer roles across the country. Perhaps you can help?

Covid misinformation campaign

Another topic covered in the briefing on Monday was the new Covid misinformation campaign which directly asks community champions to share key messages (to help people spot and stop misinformation) with their communities in authentic ways. The idea is that, instead of the content being shared on Government or Council channels, it will resonate better with communities if shared by trusted members of the community in existing WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, or email groups.

Current examples of misinformation

NHS patients can pick their type of vaccine.

  • No. Any vaccines that the NHS will provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while.

Is the vaccine safe?

  • Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so.  The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has said that both vaccines currently being used have good safety profiles and offer a high level of protection, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.

If you would be happy to help stop the spread of harmful misinformation, please download the images or videos and share these within your communities. There’s a more in-depth explanation of the campaign that can be read online.

Working with you beyond COVID-19 and into recovery and renewal

At the virtual meeting on Monday, our Communities Team updated on the Council’s initial thinking on how we can continue to work with Parish Councils, COVID Community Groups and other people as restrictions begin to loosen.

It is recognised that the response during Covid has been unique to each community and will continue to be going forward. At this stage, we are in listening mode to ensure your views are taken on board. The Council is holding a focus group meeting later this month with some of our volunteers to gather views on the best way to support communities in the recovery phase and beyond. However, everyone is encouraged to watch back the presentation in the recording at the top of this briefing note (it was covered as the final item on Monday) and if you have any ideas, views or suggestions to feed in, please get in touch with Vicky in the Communities Team by emailing:

COVID Recovery Community Chest Grant

To help groups and projects begin to resume their activities as we come out of lockdown, we have earmarked a £30,000 Covid recovery grant fund as part of our Community Chest funding. This is specifically designed to help local community groups and Parish Councils resume community activities which have been difficult or impossible during the pandemic.


The eligibility criteria for our Community Chest Grant scheme have been temporarily amended to allow applications for grants of up to £2,000 for Covid recovery related projects and initiatives. Previously, few parish councils could apply to the scheme but for the next eight weeks – up until 10th May 2021 – it is open to all Parish Councils as well as community groups, with applications being considered at the May 28th Grants Advisory Committee meeting. Meanwhile, the normal Community Chest scheme continues to run for community groups for a maximum grant of £1,000.


The process is the same for both types of application – just select which grant you are applying for at the start of the process. If you have any questions, please email:


Re-opening facilities safely

Included with this week’s update is an attached infographic of the Government’s Roadmap out of lockdown, its four steps and provisional dates. Each transitional step is 5 weeks long and we are currently in Step 1. Step 2 is from 12th April when libraries and community centres can reopen, children’s activities can restart and all retail reopens. Indoor parent and child groups (up to 15 attendees, under 5s don’t count) can also reopen in this phase. In Step 3, from 17th May, outdoors gatherings of up to 30 people will be allowed, as will indoor gatherings of up to 6 people (or 2 households) and indoors adult group sports and exercise classes. Step 4 from 21st June – all activities can restart.

Our Environmental Health service has two dedicated teams supporting communities during this phased reopening. They can help with proactive support to businesses, organisations, community groups and community facilities offering advice and help e.g., giving out support packs, Covid tool kits, free signage and signposting to further services. Please contact .


Virtual Council meetings


The feedback received during Monday’s meeting showed that there was concern from parish councils that the authority to hold virtual Council meetings was being removed. Parish councils reported increased interest from members of the public in their activities and meetings, which they felt was a direct consequence of being able to ‘attend’ remotely. They expressed regret that this permission is to be removed, which is shared by many councils up and down the country. Our Covid Team has conveyed these concerns and views to the relevant departments in central Government, as has the Local Government Association (LGA). It is suggested that it would be worthwhile writing to your MP, stating your views on this matter and the reasons for them. Once we have clarification on this, we will provide an update to you.

Easter Holiday Activities and Food Programme

Following some funding from the Department of Education, the County Council is running a series of Easter Holiday Activity Camps with food for eligible children in receipt of Free School Meals. The camps will be held within schools across the District. If you know of any eligible families who might be interested, let them know to sign up by the deadline 23 March 2021.


3 positive steps we can all take when facing difficult times

Part of our recovery from the stress and tragedy of the last year is the ability to remain hopeful and happy. Being a hopeful thinker about the future will help build resilience and give another tool for handling stress, change and adversity.


March 20th is International day of Happiness, a global event arranged by the United Nations to remind us that experiencing happiness matters, committing to finding ways forward that bring happiness is important and worth celebrating.


Action for Happiness is a UK charitable movement that supports the growth of happiness in the UK with inspiration and practical resources like their downloadable coping calendar.


It suggests three steps for increasing happiness:

Keep Calm

Stay Wise

Be Kind


So even though we may be feeling the strain still, let’s all create some space in the calendar this month for a bit more happiness!

Volunteer & Community Mental Health Training with MIND

This MIND Mental Health workshop focuses on enabling volunteers and members of the community to recognise signs of emotional distress in others; how to open up a conversation, provide active listening, suggest the next steps for support and how to look after oneself and others in creating personal wellbeing plans.

For anyone wishing to take up this MIND training, please contact Felix Clarke at . A minimum of 8 people is needed per session.

A minute of silence on a National Day of Reflection

Since the first lockdown began in 2020, hundreds of thousands of lives have been cut short and millions have been bereaved by Covid-19. In South Cambridgeshire alone there have, so far, been 184 deaths where Covid-19 has been a factor.

Behind the statistics, and whatever the cause, every death has been devastating for the people left behind. For those needing support, we suggest they start with The Good Grief Trust for getting the necessary help.

I would therefore like to invite everyone to reflect on our collective loss, support those who’ve been bereaved, and hope for a brighter future together. At 12pm on Tuesday 23 March, why not stop whatever you are doing and pause for a minute of silence for the National Day of Reflection, the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown.

There are many other ways you can take part in this National Day of Reflection, as suggested by the charity Marie Curie.

Best wishes

Bill Handley


Lead Cabinet Member for Community Resilience, Health & Wellbeing

South Cambridgeshire District Council


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Download: 18th March Roadmap infographic (107 KB)