Month: August 2020

COVID-19 Risk Factors Question and Answers

Advice from NHS Redbridge

You may have heard that people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities have worse outcomes and are more susceptible to getting coronavirus. Below are some questions that are frequently asked about increased risk for people from BAME communities and some advice on how to reduce these risk factors.

Please feel free to share these questions and answers with your communities/groups.

Q1. How can I best protect myself from COVID-19 and prevent the spread of disease to others?

Answer:  There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 including:

  • Self-isolation – If you have, or are showing symptoms of, coronavirus (a new continuous cough, or fever, or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell, or have someone in your household who is, you and everyone in your household should be self-isolating at home following the stay at home guidance.
  • Get a test – if you think you have symptoms of Coronavirus, however mild, get a test. You can go online to www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or phone the NHS on 119 to book a test at your local testing centre, or get a home test kit. Redbridge has a permanent testing centre at Mildmay Car Park, Ilford, IG1 1DT. It is open every day 8am-8pm.
  • Social distancing – Maintain at least 2 metres from anyone not in your household, and/or follow specific guidance in restaurants or other leisure establishments. Remember that social distancing only means keeping yourself physically distant from other people when you are outside your home. You can still be sociable with other people, which is really important for our mental wellbeing – WhatsApp, Facetime or even a phone call are great ways of keeping in touch with people.
  • Hand hygiene – Clean your hands regularly, washing them for 20 seconds with water and soap, or using hand sanitiser.
  • Respiratory hygiene – Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissue/the crook of your elbow when coughing/sneezing. Dispose of tissues immediately and clean your hands. ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’
  • Face coverings – If you can, wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. Face coverings must be worn on public transport and in shops. Wearing a face covering does not stop you from catching the virus, however if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with. A face covering can be as simple as a scarf or piece of cloth covering your nose and mouth.

Key message: Stay at home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, keep 2 metre distance from people outside your household, follow good hand and respiratory hygiene and wear face coverings where advised.

Q2. Am I at higher risk from COVID-19 because I am elderly and what support is available to me?

Answer: If you are over 70, you may be clinically vulnerable and could be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Public Health England published a review in June which looked at the differences in outcomes from COVID-19 for different population groups. This review noted that increasing age is a risk factor associated with COVID-19 related mortality. Of those who have COVID-19, individuals 80 or older when compared to those under 40 were seventy times more likely to die. If you are over 70, at moderate risk from coronavirus, you can go out to work (if you cannot work from home) and for things like getting food or exercising. But you should try to stay at home as much as possible. If you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble.

In terms of support available, several supermarkets have dedicated spots for the elderly. The Coronavirus well-being service is available to support those that are at greatest risk including those over 70, living on their own and don’t have the necessary support while self-isolating. Redbridge CVS also has a directory of services available to help residents, including Age UK.

Key message: If you are over 70, you can go out to work and for things like getting food or exercising but are advised to stay at home as much as possible. If you do go out follow strict social distancing guidelines. For further help and support you can call the Coronavirus Wellbeing Service on 0208 708 5555 or visit www.redbridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-information-hub/coronavirus-well-being-service.

Q3. How does COVID-19 affect me if I have diabetes and what can I do about this?

Answer: Individuals with all types of diabetes are more susceptible to developing severe illness if they get COVID-19. The PHE review notes that diabetes (type 1 and 2) was mentioned on 21% of death certificates where COVID-19 was also mentioned (compared to 15% in all cause death certificates). This proportion was higher in all BAME groups compared to White ethnic groups and was 43% in the Asian group and 45% in the black group.  The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is known to be higher in people from BAME communities.

People with diabetes are in the clinically vulnerable group and should stay at home as much as possible, and if you do go out, be careful to avoid contact with people you don’t live with. You should also take steps to keep your blood glucose levels well controlled to help reduce your risk of becoming ill, by keeping to a healthy diet, trying to keep active and regularly testing your blood glucose if advised by your doctor.

Key message: Diabetes increases vulnerability to developing severe illness from COVID-19, therefore managing your diabetes well is key to preventing complications from COVID-19. Ask your GP for further advice on how to manage your diabetes, or go online to  www.nhs.uk/conditions/Diabetes

Q4. Is obesity associated with increased risk from COVID-19?

Answer: Several studies have shown a relationship between increasing BMI and COVID-19, with increased risk of adverse outcomes in obese or morbidly obese people. The PHE review reported 7.7% of patients critically ill in ICU with COVID-19 were morbidly obese, compared to 2.9% of the general population. Those who are morbidly obese are classed as clinically vulnerable and advised to stay at home as much as possible, and if they do go out to follow strict social distancing guidelines.

This highlights the importance of weight management though eating a healthy diet and regular physical exercise. Locally in Redbridge there is support available e.g. Exercise on Referral and the healthy start scheme.

Key message: Obesity is related to higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, highlighting the importance of promoting a healthy lifestyle though exercise and a healthy diet. For more information about maintaining a healthy weight see www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight .

Q5. Does smoking increase my risk of COVID-19, and what help is available to help me quit?

Answer: Smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing respiratory viral infections such as COVID-19. Smoking damages your lungs, and airways and harms the immune system, reducing your ability to fight infection. Smoking also involves repetitive hand-to-face movements, which increase the risk of viruses entering the body. Smoking is also a risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular and respiratory disease which put people with these conditions at higher risk of developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19. Stopping smoking will bring immediate benefits to your health. There is support available to help you stop smoking via the Redbridge Stop Smoking Service

Key message: Smokers have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, and of more severe symptoms once infected; stopping smoking will bring immediate benefits to your health. Call the Redbridge Stop Smoking Service run by Everyone Health on 0333 005 0095 or visit mylife.redbridge.gov.uk/stop-smoking

Q7. Are those working in public facing jobs at greater risk of COVID-19?

Answer: Some occupations require close or frequent contact with other individuals, which leads to an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. The PHE review noted that men working as security guards, taxi drivers and chauffeurs, bus and coach drivers, chefs, sales and retail assistants, lower skilled workers in construction and processing plants, and men and women working in social care had significantly high rates of death from COVID-19. Among workers in occupations that are more likely to be in frequent contact with people and exposed to the disease, one in five are from BAME groups. It is therefore important to practice good hand hygiene, social distancing as much as possible, and follow public health guidance while at work.

Key message: Occupations requiring close contact with others may lead to increased risk of COVID-19, highlighting the importance of practicing good hand hygiene. social distancing and following public health guidance at work. For more information see www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing-after-4-july#going-to-work

Q8. How can I look after my mental health and wellbeing during this time? 

Answer: It is normal to feel sad, stressed, anxious or scared during this time. You may also be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. It is important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and get support if you need it. There are several ways to look after your mental health and wellbeing detailed in this guidance. In Redbridge, Talking Therapies is available to help support you with a range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, stress and bereavement.

Key message: It is important to take care of your mental health and wellbeing, and seek out support if needed. Call Talking Therapies on 0300 300 1554 – Option 1, open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. For more information on taking care of your mental health see www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression

Starting University – advice and tips

Many students have confirmed their place at university following the receipt of their results. A common challenge most of these face students is the short turnaround time to prepare for university which is typically at most 2 months for BTEC and just over a month for A-level and SQA students – for courses starting in September.

This often leads to many rushed decisions concerning accommodation, financial preparation and course materials as well as other aspects. This post will share some vital information to have students prepared to start university this year.

Accommodation

It’s likely that students would have arranged for their accommodation before receiving their results. However, upon receival of results not all students may be going to the same university or some may be doing a different course in a different location at the same university. Many students will be making their accommodation plans now. A key thing to note is that it’s hardly ever too late to change your accommodation.

  •  Choose somewhere close to your course. University is expensive enough and you don’t want to bear the burden of having the additional cost of travel to and from lectures. Staying somewhere close to where most of your lectures are will give you more financial freedom and will make university less exhaustive. 
  •  It’s never too late to change. If you don’t enjoy where you’re staying you can always move. Universities typically take accommodation payments in instalments, so changing before the next payment instalment is due will allow you to smoothly transition into a new accommodation area.
  •  Avoid staying alone in first year. Private studio apartments can be appealing as they boast nice facilities such as your own bathroom and kitchen. However, staying by yourself can be very lonely and make it difficult for you to make friends and experience different social events. Furthermore, a lot of university halls or private halls have these studio apartments which are not always advertised well so find out if they’re available.
  •  Try to find out as much about where you’re staying as possible. A good way to do this is through social media and looking for a Facebook group of that accommodation place.
  •  If you’re staying in catered accommodation find out about the quality of the food.

Financial Preparation

Being financially prepared before you start university is essential to avoid any monetary mishaps.

  • Be as informed as possible about your income. If you are receiving student loan, then information about your income from the loan can be found on the gov.uk student finance website. If you plan to work during university find out or realistically forecast how much you would be earning monthly.
  • Similarly, know as much as possible about your costs. Costs can include, travel, food, accommodation payments, course materials, printing and photocopying, society subscriptions, gym memberships, sports membership, clothes and toiletries and personal. 
  • Stay up to date with your costs. Be aware of your cash outflows. A lot of money can be spent on night outs (entrance fees, cabs, drinks and food) so make sure that your factor these costs in when doing your financial planning to avoid running out of money.

Course Materials

Every course differs in its requirements and the importance of course materials consequently varies. Here are some general tips concerning course materials:

  • Not everything on your reading list needs to be read. Reading lists often contain a range of textbooks varying in importance between essential, supplementary and optional reading materials. Find out which ones are crucial for your course by speaking to your module convenor and students in the years above or those who have studied the same modules.
  • Many textbooks are available online and in the library. Before you fork out your monthly income on textbooks find out if you can access them via online educational portals or in your university library. It’s unlikely that you will need sustained possession of these textbooks so if you can access a preview or trial online or borrow the book from the library for a fixed period of time – this will save you a lot of money.

Extra-Curricular activities

One of the major selling points of university is that there is often a society or sport for everyone. 

  • Don’t wait too long to join a society or sports team. Waiting too long to join a team will often lead to you not joining at all. It’s best to find out as much information as possible about the sports teams and societies that your university has to offer during the fresher’s fair and first couple of weeks and sign up to a couple straight away.
  • Go with another person (friend, housemate, someone you’ve meet at the fresher’s fair). It can be daunting going to a sports team/society by yourself for the first-time, especially for those who aren’t used to partaking in extra-curricular activities. Finding someone to go with will motivate you more to join the team/society.
  • Stay committed. There is a lot of spare time in university and its easy to spend your time binge watching Netflix series at night and going out every night. These things can make it difficult for you to commit to the societies and sports teams that you’ve joined. 

Study Plan

Managing your time effectively is one of the keys to success at university. Developing a robust weekly study plan will help you to achieve this.

  • Become informed of your timetable as soon as possible and use this to develop your study plan. Be sure to note any additional seminars/practical workshops/term-time assessments which may happen during each term.
  • Once you have a comprehensive timetable listing all of your course requirements you can begin to make your weekly study plan. 
  • Use Microsoft word or Excel to create a table listing out the lectures, seminars, assessments etc that you have to attend for that week. 
  • In the time you have outside of these course requirements, set aside at least two hours per day for private study.
  • Ensure your private study covers all of your course content for that week and detail what you would be doing in each private study session per day.
  • Its important that you adapt your weekly study plan each week to meet any changes in your course requirements.

Importance of social media

A lot of what happens during university is on social media and you can find an abundance of current information concerning a range of topics on social platforms.

  • Join groups relating to your experience at university which share up-to-date information that will be useful to you. For example, if your university halls or sports team have a Facebook group or Instagram page for your year then join/follow them to keep yourself updated.
  • Check these groups regularly for information that could affect you.
  • Find general groups that share important information regarding your university and the town/city that your university is in. These groups can provide some useful information about the local area and key events happening at your university that may be important to you.

Other important tips

  • Research any academic, sports, financial scholarships or bursaries you may be eligible to apply for. This will help to alleviate some of the costs you face and can increase your income.
  • Stay safe when travelling alone after a night out. It’s best to make your way home in groups.
  • Try to maintain a healthy diet at university. It’s easy to order takeaways every night especially when that student loan drops. Try to avoid eating fast-food on a regular basis for health and financial reasons.
  • Research about career opportunities available at your university. Attend careers fairs to get an insight into the different career options related to your course and interests and search online for internships and work experience opportunities.

Keep Walking News – August 2020

It feels like nature is bursting with energy at this time of the year. The walks around the parks are one of the best ways to embrace this energy through some of the elements of nature – Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  Walking is not only good physical exercise that helps keep us fit, it is calming and healing and recommended for our mental wellbeing.

The Keep Walking group has enjoyed walks in Valentines Park throughout June and July and Wanstead Park on the last Saturday. We welcome suggestions of your favourite park that we might visit on the last Saturday.

Now the outdoor cafeteria in Valentines Park has re-opened, I’m looking forward to stopping off at the end of our walks to enjoy a beverage and chit chat.

Come on out, if you can, and enjoy these fleeting summer days.    

A message from TARACC


Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in line with the current guidelines, we are unable to hold events.  We are planning to cover the topics, that we know are of interest, through Webinars and will place information on our website.  Our monthly meetings are currently held on Zoom.  Current activities include the Walking Group with social distancing.

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Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in line with the current guidelines, we are unable to hold events.  We are planning to cover the topics, that we know are of interest, through Webinars and will place information on our website. 
Our monthly meetings are currently held on Zoom.  
Current activities include the Walking Group with social distancing.