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Covid volunteers ready to help as Huntly and rural area returns to lockdown

By Pat Scott

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HUNTLY is back in lockdown - people are required by law to stay at home except for essential purposes.

Non essential shops and businesses, like hairdressers, had been closed since Christmas Eve but the announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon killed off any hope of a review of restrictions on January 18.

Efforts to curb the virus are ramping up and The Huntly Express understands that there will be a local vaccination hub, operating 12 hours daily, to deliver the vaccine which is being hailed as the "light at the end of the tunnel".

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: "Once all the information is confirmed on the vaccination programme, we will be able to share that in more detail, including any volunteering opportunities."

Huntly continues to have a designated Covid-19 testing station at Jubilee Hospital but the tent which accommodated the drive through facility collapsed under the weight of snow.

NHS Grampian is working to re-instate the tent and for now, staff there have been deployed into the community or other test centres.

Covid-19 testers for the Huntly base are needed - details of the posts and how to apply can be found on the NHS Grampian Facebook page - nursing qualifications are not required.

The First Minister has warned that the lockdown will last until at least the end of January and people with pre-existing medical conditions have been advised to shield.

Volunteers in the Covid 19 Huntly and District group had continued to offer support to vulnerable people in the community and are poised to extend their activities in the light of Monday's announcement.

Andrea Clark who coordinates the group hopes the lockdown is short. She said:"Volunteers have been busy throughout, we even had a call on Christmas Day. Our volunteers can get folk essential shopping, prescriptions or have a friendly chat.

"If someone is admitted to hospital, leaving pets to be cared for, we can do that.

"We can point folk in the right direction for foodbanks, mental health support - volunteers will do anything really within their capabilities."

The number to call is 07752458324. The Grampian Coronavirus Hub also continues to operate and can be reached on 0808196 3384.

Schools had been due to open on Monday, January 18, after a week of online learning starting from Monday but online learning will be the norm until at least February 1.

Gordon Primary School opened as a hub for over 70 key workers' and vulnerable children on Wednesday.

Head teacher Debbie Ewen urges parents not to struggle with home schooling but to get in touch if they need advice or support.

She said: "We are available to support families in any way we can either by email to school or teachers or by leaving a message on the Gordon Primary number.

"It is disappointing not to have our children in classrooms and nursery but understandable given the spread of the covid virus and the new strain. Teachers are busy planning engaging lessons and preparing to support pupils and parents throughout lockdown.

"We are actively engaging with parents to see who might need to borrow technology from school and reviewing how best we can support families with digital technology."

Gordon Rural Action (GRA) has switched to a remote advice service similar to earlier in the year.

Team members will be able to give advice, refer people to other agencies where necessary and provide foodbank referrals.

Anyone in need of advice should call any of the following numbers - 07398 900177; 07398900134 or 07454 312 797 and leave a voicemail message - an adviser will return the call as soon as possible.

People can also text or whatsapp the numbers.

The charity's enterprise arm, Bargain Box will be offering online sales only via its Facebook page.

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