Following on from the launch of Surrey County Council’s SOON initiative, we had the pleasure of catching up with Adam Letts (Public Health Lead) and the rest of the Surrey County Council (SCC) team. We discussed everything from how SCC got on during lockdown, the COVID measures in place to ensure everyone’s safety, alongside things to look forward to in the near future.

1. Tell us about the SOON initiative and how it came about?

Livity are a creative agency that specialises in engaging with young people and co-creating content with them, for them. Through focus groups with young people and research into their behaviours, Livity works to co-create and collaborate with young people at all levels, so they can make a better future. This includes using next generation talent, multiple digital platforms, and innovative ways to encourage young people to engage and share inspiration.

By working with Livity, our aim was to improve our communication and engagement with young people in Surrey, specifically around COVID-19, looking at the impact of the pandemic on the lives of young people in the county and how that’s inspired them to create and do something different. To begin with, Livity ran a series of research sessions with young people from around the county. The sessions focused on how they were feeling over lockdown, where they were getting their Covid news updates, if and how they’ve managed to follow the rules and how lockdown was impacting their wellbeing which is where SOON Surrey comes in.

SOON Surrey is a project that acts as a community celebrating and inspiring young people in Surrey as we all look ahead to better times. The Instagram page (@soon.surrey) includes a Linktree where young people can submit to share their creative projects and get access and helpful links to wellbeing resources. Soon Surrey focuses on the positives over the negatives – while paying attention to the mental health and general wellbeing of young people. With monthly influencers covering topics from mental health, long Covid, body positivity and fashion, the content revolves around giving followers and young people in Surrey things to be inspired by. The influencers share tips and give advice via posts, IGTV and reels – signposting to resources they have found helpful and beneficial to their wellbeing throughout lockdown and as we move towards a sense of normality.

Check out the Instagram page – you can find tonnes of creative inspiration including jewellery tutorials, wellbeing tips, makeup tutorials, mindfulness, places to explore outside within the rules, self-care, cooking and more.

2. How has Surrey Council dealt with the recent lockdowns and the pandemic in general?

Using government guidance, Surrey County Council (SCC) as an organisation has worked across the services to communicate with residents at every stage of the pandemic. Since the beginning, SCC’s Public Health Team have consistently monitored Surrey’s Covid rates and data, and this insight and research has been used to keep residents in Surrey safe, by making sure they get the information, guidance and advice they need.

The Director of Public Health (DPH), local authorities and partners have a significant role to play in the identification and management of COVID-19 outbreaks and Local Outbreak Control Plans (LOCPs) have been put in place to set out the framework through which any local outbreak is responded to swiftly, protecting communities and helping to prevent the spread of the virus. Surrey’s universities are identified as priority settings within this plan.

SCC is committed to being open and transparent with its residents, stakeholders and partners by publishing the LOCP on the website, as well as Surrey’s weekly Covid 19 data on positivity rates and Covid cases broken down by district and borough. Visit the Surrey County Council Coronavirus information and advice webpage to find out more on how SCC have responded to the pandemic, and for quick links to testing information, vaccination information, and community and welfare support.

It is only by using a number of these ‘swiss cheese slices’ – or mitigation measures – that we create the best chance of protecting ourselves and our friends and family.

* PUN alert * … Plus – who doesn’t love a bit of cheese? Even if it’s nacho thing, we’re feta off helping each other out. Ricotta get through this together, and if everyone acts Caerphilly we’ll be grate. That’s my hypotheswiss anyway. Sorry…

3. What can ACM Guildford students look forward to over the coming weeks and month within the local community?

The Boileroom in Guildford

SCC has produced many campaigns throughout the pandemic, most notably the ‘KeepSurreySafe’ campaigns and most recently the ‘Working together to get there’ campaign created to coincide with the roadmap out of lockdown. The campaign focuses on looking forward to the things we have missed and what we need to do to get there.

Step 3 is nearly here! But I hope since 12 April many of you will have already been able to visit hairdressers, gyms, some shops, and maybe taken advantage of the weather to visit your families in their gardens or sit in a pub garden, adhering to the rule of 6 course (6 people – not beers!). In line with the Roadmap’s Stage 4 – at this point expected on 21 June (but could change), we’re hoping to see a gradual return to normality nationally, at which point we will also be able to see more people face to face for collaborative working and socialising. We are not expecting a sudden rush back to life as we knew it pre-Covid, but with your help, we can get there together safer, sooner. We certainly don’t want to turn the clock back and we all want to get to the end of the roadmap.

In step 3, 17 May, we can all look forward to cinemas, hotels, hostels and B&Bs, organised indoor sports, indoor entertainment, attractions, and some large event spaces being open. Perhaps most importantly, we can all meet in groups of 6 indoors… Which means restaurants and pubs are open to indoor table service.

For a summary of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown plan and a reminder of the guidelines, you can visit; COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Summary) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) And there’s also a useful FAQ page that tells you what you can and cannot do.

4. What COVID measures are in place around Guildford to ensure our students and the wider community’s safety?

From Monday 12 April, step two of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown saw further restrictions start to lift.

For Business and activities;

Step two saw the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres. Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups); as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas. Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, also reopening. Step one arrangements also remain in place.

More information and guidance for staying safe is available. The GOV.UK website has full details of the roadmap out of lockdown and what to expect at every step. For more COVID information relating to Guildford, you can visit your local borough council web pages; Coronavirus information – Guildford Borough Council

5. How can the ACM community contact you in the future if they are concerned or want to learn more about the lowering of restrictions?

The director of ACM Guildford and Surrey County Council public health colleagues meet regularly to discuss local issues and opportunities. But the best way for the wider ACM community to learn about lowering of restrictions is by keeping an eye on the government web pages, which are updated regularly.


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