News / coronavirus

Pop-up Nightingale hospitals to be built in Bristol

By adam postans, Thursday Apr 2, 2020

‘Phone buddy’ networks will be set up to keep vulnerable and self-isolating Bristol residents connected with their community during the pandemic, Marvin Rees has announced.

The mayor also confirmed pop up Nightingale hospitals would be created in the city to cope with rising numbers of coronavirus victims.

Speaking during a Facebook Live Q&A session on Wednesday evening (April 1), Rees hailed the “uplifting” response from people across Bristol to the crisis.

He said helping vulnerable householders had been the city council’s immediate priority.

Posted by Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol on Wednesday, 1 April 2020

“People get impacted by the virus itself and then they get impacted by the consequences of the actions we have to take to deal with coronavirus,” the mayor said.

“With the Can Do Bristol website we are recruiting volunteers who we can begin to deploy to support people.

“The sophistication of what we do with our volunteers will grow over the weeks to come. At the weekend, it was food deliveries, with volunteers packaging food and taxi drivers delivering it.

“As it goes on, we will be looking at phone buddying systems and making sure those people on the edge of vulnerability but who haven’t quite tipped over are getting the support they need, so there is a lot going on to identify people.”

Rees urged residents to call Bristol City Council’s new freephone helpline number 0800 694 0184 or email coronavirus@bristol.gov.uk if they knew of anyone who was particularly vulnerable and needed emergency help.

“There is a big impact of social isolation on people,” he said.

“Community groups and faith groups have been talking about setting up phone buddy systems and this is something we could end up recruiting for through the Can Do website so that we have people on the end of phone lines ready to talk to people feeling particularly lonely and in need of support.

“We would like faith leaders to step up and be in touch with people in their patch to make sure that whatever faith those faith leaders are, they are available to support and counsel and be a pastoral support to people, whether it’s isolation or bereavement or whatever challenges they are facing.”

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Read more: Volunteers deliver emergency food parcels to Bristol’s most vulnerable people

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Rees continued: “We are going to receive Nightingale hospitals in this area to increase our capacity to cope with increasing numbers of people with Covid-19.

“The exact location I am not at liberty to say, although there have been some suggestions of where it might be.

“Personal protective equipment is a national challenge right now. We are taking a collective approach with representatives of the health service, police and business because it’s health staff, adult social care staff and the police particularly who come into close proximity with people.

“We are doing all we can to prepare for a rise in cases but we are also trying to reduce the number of cases we’re likely to have with the early interventions – the ‘stay at home’, social distancing and isolation.

“We are not just waiting to see what comes down the track, we are trying to make sure fewer numbers of people come down the track so we stay within our ability to cope. If we did nothing, the absolute certainty is the number of people coming down the track would be well beyond our ability to cope.

“We are upping the levels of cleaning, particularly in our buildings. First Bus has been deep-cleaning its buses, and the reduced frequency of those services has enabled them to do that.

“Organisations across Bristol are really stepping up on the cleaning of public spaces.”

The mayor said funerals were having to be shortened and numbers of attendees restricted.

“I understand that will be a real challenge for some people,” he said.

“That is simply about protecting family members so they don’t end up passing the virus between them. That will be hugely challenging because people will want to give family members a send-off and celebrate their lives.

“We are going to be doing our best to offer people full support to do as much as we can in the face of the circumstances we have now.

“What we are at pains to do is make sure the circumstances you will face are ones in which you are able to mourn properly and your family member or friend can have the dignified services they require. We may have more people passing away. That will bring a strain to our services.”

Rees said the council had taken 150 homeless people off the streets following an appeal to hotels and other landlords to take in about 450 rough sleepers.

“We had a fantastic response,” he said. “There has been an uplifting response from the city to this challenge, with people coming together for the city’s common good.”

Adam Postans is a local democracy reporter for Bristol

Main photo courtesy of Bristol Sport

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