EXCL Lib Dems mobilise thousands of members to help vulnerable through coronavirus isolation
By Alain Tolhurst @Alain_Tolhurst in Politics Home
The Liberal Democrats are mobilising thousands of their members for a taskforce to help the most vulnerable deal with self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak, PoliticsHome can reveal.
The new body will be chaired by Sir Stuart Etherington, former chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and will help people with basic supplies.
The party says the network of volunteers will also "help share best practice and the best ideas" so communities are able to follow the guidance on tackling the spread of Covid-19.
It follows the creation of volunteer groups like Covid-19 Mutual Aid, which have sprung up around the country in recent days to offer food and support.
They have created a printable postcard which can be put in neighbours' letterboxes, with offers to pick up shopping or help with tasks, or even join them for a "friendly phone call".
New advice from the Government on Monday instructed anybody with either a high temperature or a new, continuous cough to isolate themselves in their home for seven days.
Meanwhile Brits have been told to stay at home for 14 days after someone they are living with first displays symptoms, and the over-70s, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions are also advised to self-quarantine.
Announcing the Lib Dems' new Coronavirus Community Taskforce, the party's acting leader Ed Davey said people across the country were "rightly worried about their loved ones, with many more keen to do something to help".
"We are in an unprecedented situation and we believe that the Liberal Democrats, with our strong and historic links to local activism and community politics, have a wealth of knowledge and unique ability to go into our communities and offer support," he said.
"This will be scaling up of what Liberal Democrats do - day in, day out - helping the most vulnerable in our communities."
Mr Etherington added: "It is critical that vulnerable people in our communities receive the support they need.
"It will be communities themselves that have to respond to take the pressure off our excellent but hard pressed statutory services.
"It's time for the altruistic instincts of volunteers to play their part and I'm pleased to assist this welcome Liberal Democrat initiative."
So far more than 1,500 'mutual aid' groups have reportedly sprung up across the country to support those suffering from the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak.
One of the national coordinators, Rees Arnott, said it was: "A stunning testament to the fact that solidarity between people won't be broken, no matter how harsh the conditions."