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Bristol City Council’s coronavirus information and advice newsletter

Hello resident,

Ramadan Mubarak to our Muslim friends and neighbours, and a special thanks to key workers who are beginning their fast. I know this is traditionally a time where families and friends come together to celebrate and that will be difficult with social distancing restrictions in place. There are no collective acts of worship taking place within the city and we offer thanks to faith leaders and communities for respecting this and keeping residents safe.

Our work to help thousands of people facing food poverty continues and demand for food support in the city has never been higher. The ways that you have all stepped up to help friends, communities and even neighbours that you’ve never met is incredibly humbling – an exceptional response.

As a city we must continue to pull together. In the coming months we will need more volunteers, more donations and more emergency provision. Please continue to register for volunteering opportunities on Can Do Bristol if you are able and check your local Facebook groups for more ways to help in your own community. You can also use our interactive food map to find places to shop locally at this time.

As ever, if you or someone you know is vulnerable and in need of help, please call our We Are Bristol Helpline for free on 0800 694 0184.

Stay safe and have a good weekend.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

Ramadan 2020

City leaders wish Bristol’s Muslim community “Ramadan Mubarak” and have offered words of support for those observing the holy month under difficult circumstances.

This year, there will be no congregational acts of worship outside people’s homes or at mosques. This includes taraweeh prayers in the mosque or elsewhere.  A short film has been produced by the Bristol Muslim Strategic Leadership Group, Bristol City Council and Avon and Somerset Police recognising the challenges of observing Ramadan during the coronavirus pandemic, and offering support to families and individuals. Practical suggestions include organising taraweeh at home as a family, streaming Islamic lectures, arranging virtual iftars with loved ones and community members and planning iftar meals in advance to limit shopping trips.

The current coronavirus restrictions set out by Government last until 7 May. Preparations are being put in place in case the restrictions are extended and include Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Online scams

A few weeks back we shared concerns about individuals using the current crisis to take advantage of residents through door knocking and face-to-face scams. We are now starting to see an increase in online scams and we would ask you to be careful about emails that claim to be:

  • from the government, offering a tax rebate and asking for your bank details
  • investment scheme and trading advice, encouraging you to capitalise on the coronavirus downturn
  • from the World Health Organisation (WHO), with crucial coronavirus safety advice
  • from a research group that mimics the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO
  • from the council, offering a council tax refund
  • from the council, asking for bank details in order to get free school meal vouchers

Opening attachments or links in these emails could let scammers access your device and personal details, or follow your movements online. You should always be careful when opening emails from people you don’t know and never give your bank details to people you don’t know. More information is available on the council’s scams and overpricing webpage.

Energy advice and support

Because of the lockdown, many people are spending much more time at home, resulting in increased heating and electricity bills. Our partners at the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) are offering support to vulnerable residents by providing advice on energy, money, benefits and carrying out home repairs.

CSE’s WHAM (which stands for Warmer Homes, Advice and Money) service is funded by Bristol City Council there to help lower your energy bills and make your home safe, secure and warm. You can get support and find out more about the offer on CSE’s website or by calling the WHAM team on 0800 082 2234.

Laughter in Lockdown

Under the Laughter in Lockdown banner, the Bristol Slapstick Festival is releasing an entire decade’s worth of previously unseen footage, including material from John Cleese, Eric Sykes and Tim Vine.

Bristol Slapstick Festival continues to release additional clips every week and you can find the full comedy roster on their YouTube channel.

Business grants and support

We’ve now approved over 4,500 applications with a value of over £58m to support businesses in Bristol. We know there are over 1,000 eligible businesses who haven’t yet applied for a grant. You can get one by filling out a simple online form and confirming your business rate number and bank account details. Please note businesses can only apply for either the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant. You can find out more and apply on the council’s website.

The government has also launched a new support finder tool to help businesses and self-employed people to determine what financial support is available to them at this time. More information can be found on the government’s website.

Finally, a brief reminder that we are carrying out a short survey to understand the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our city’s businesses. If you own a business or are a senior manager, we’d like to hear from you. While we fully appreciate this is a challenging time, the information you provide will help inform future business support we might develop, either as a council, or with partner organisations, to work alongside the help offered by the UK Government. You can access the survey here.

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