COVID press briefing 1st April 2020

This is what I said at the press briefing on 1st April.

Just following up on what Gavin, said, I’d like to thank everyone who has sent us such kind messages of support. They really are appreciated. It’s been an intense and surreal few weeks and those messages have really helped me going. BUT we are really only the front of house. There are so many many others doing so much more, working very long hours behind the scenes and on the frontline.

Now I know a lot of focus has been on the PEH and that’s totally understandable as we have told you all of the amazing work being done there to ensure we are prepared for the days and weeks ahead, but it’s important that we understand that frontline workers are doing their stuff right across our community. That includes our ambulance service, child protection and adult safeguarding, rapid response and twilight teams and community nurses to name just a few. There are many more. We think of people becoming ill and having to go to the PEH, but the vast majority of people don’t need that level of care. We don’t want people to be admitted to hospital either, unless they absolutely have to be for their own good. That is why the role of community nurses and others who provide support at home is so important and will become increasingly so over the coming days. Their role is as crucial as those in a more clinical setting and I would like to thank them all for the work they are doing on the frontline. You are not forgotten and you will not be forgotten.

And leading on from that I think I should mention the amazing support being provided by volunteers across the community. There’s no way I can cover all that is being done right now and we will say more over the coming days and weeks but I have been so bowled over by how the community has come together to provide support both to those working on the frontline, but also to our more vulnerable islanders. I just can’t get over how wonderful people have been. We’ve seen businesses and groups of individuals get together to provide some really useful stuff like soaps for PPE packs, slider slippers when needing to shower at work, food vouchers, fridges, microwaves and kettles for those who can’t return to base due to infection control.

The community has created its own groups such as the Guernsey Isolation Support Group on Facebook. The Association of Guernsey Charities, Guernsey Community Foundation and St John have set up a coordinating group under the banner of ‘Volunteer Guernsey’ that will maintain a register of volunteers who can be deployed in response to requests for help from both individuals and charities. The formation of this group was in recognition that volunteers need to be suitably trained, DBS checked, vetted and matched to the respective needs. This will ensure that they and those in need of support are appropriately protected. This will minimise the number of journeys and home visits that volunteers carry out and reduce the risk of infection spread. St John have established a route to fast track the vetting and training of volunteers, so that a pool of helpers is in place to ensure resilience. Volunteer Guernsey is working with many other community groups offering similar support such as Health Connections, the Guernsey Isolation Support Group, the Guernsey Voluntary Service and Carers Guernsey. 

An illustration of the community’s response is Volunteer Guernsey has had 100 volunteers come forward as well as multiple offers from businesses in the last 72 hours. 

We have people volunteering to do shopping, pick up medicines and generally provide support where it is needed, for no recognition whatsoever. I hope we can say more in future briefings about all that is going on and also how anyone who would like to do their bit can help, but for now I’d just like to say thank you to each and every one of you for what you are doing. It is making a real difference to people’s lives. Thank you. 

But I would just like to focus on two areas where we have great third sector support. The first is in relation to mental health. Guernsey MIND have moved their community support groups online including group meetings for Men Club, Hope Singers, Book Club and Women Matters, and are delivering 1:2:1 telephone support.  The second is in relation to domestic abuse.

We know, from evidence across the world, that the risk of abuse is heightened during period of lockdown. BUT my message to any of you who are experiencing abuse, or those of you who know people who are experiencing abuse, is that help is out there. If you are in immediate danger you must call 999. We’re not just talking physical abuse here but, emotional, financial, sexual or psychological abuse. None of this will be tolerated and the police are there to help. 

There is also an app called Hollie, HOLLIE, that can help. – turns your smartphone into a safety device which can be activated by shaking it, sending your location to designated contacts. Having tried it out I can say it’s not the easiest to set up but I think it does the business.

We also have our partners at Safer who can really help. Call them on 721999. There’s also a lot of useful information on their website at Finally, do not worry about escaping the house, as it will be considered an essential journey. More information will be provided on all I have just said later today.

And finally from me, and on the subject of volunteering, there’s something we can all do to help our public health colleagues and the wider community. AND it is really so easy.

Some of those hard working guys behind the scenes I mentioned at the start have created a little app that you can all use that will really help Nikki’s team.

It’s called the Community Monitoring Tool, only because we haven’t had time to think of something more snazzy, but anyway you can find it on 

Now we have spoken a lot over the last few weeks about the importance of evidence. Evidence is what is determining the decisions we make. Well, now is your opportunity to really help us provide more evidence that will be so valuable over the coming days and weeks.

What we are asking is that you fill in the really simple form on that will enable us to get a really good picture of what is happening in the community. Filling that form in will mean you will be asked how you are feeling each day, whether you’re social distancing, self-isolating or shielding, what information you need and whether you are still able to work. So something really quick and simple that will help us in making the right decisions in the future.

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