It's time to Scrap Serco and give the funding to local public health teams to lead, with national coordination and support of course. We need to build the pressure locally, across the country, to show Matt Hancock that we demand functioning test and trace led by local public health teams, and this problem isn't going anywhere.
By getting your council to pass a motion calling for local track and trace, we can show there is pressure building across the country. We need publicly led, safe track and trace. Oxfordshire County Council and Lambeth Council have already done so.
This relatively easy action will have a BIG impact! If we can do this in dozens of councils across the country, we can get local and national press, and force Matt Hancock to realise that communities across the country want change.
How to pass a motion at your local council!
2) Decide who to send it to at your local council. We would recommend sending it to:
a) The cabinet member for health OR the chair of the health committee in your local council (you find out your council here). Whether they are called a cabinet member or chair will depend on your local council structure, so we recommend googling your council plus the word health. For example, Lambeth Council health lead. This will give you their email on a page like this. OR
b) A supportive councillor (irrespective of whether they hold any post). Do you have friends of yours who are councillors, who might be able to help offer advice as to the best group of people to take this forward at the council? OR
c) Your local councillors. They have a duty to represent their ward and you can find their details, plus an option to write an email to them here.
3) Once you've decided, send an email to one person using this draft email (odt version here), attaching the motion draft (odt version here). Let us know you've taken the action at Pascale@weownit.org.uk so we can help you coordinate with others in your area who are keen to campaign for local, public test and trace! Please do let us know who you've emailed and who is the controlling party on your council too!
4) If they haven't replied in three working days, send them a polite nudge, saying 'It would be great to hear your thoughts on taking this motion forward, as I'm very concerned about my local community's safety. Much appreciated, [your name].'
5) Hopefully you've heard from councillor within a week. They might have said they cannot support your motion. We would recommend asking why politely. However, we must continue our work to get the motion passed! Can you ask for help from any of the other councillors listed in step 2)? If they have offered to support, ask them for a rough timeline, and which council meeting they will be bringing the motion to. Let us know if we can help by reaching out at Pascale@weownit.org.uk.
6) Once you know when the motion will be discussed, make sure to email our press and comms officer Chris with all the details, at Christopher@weownit.org.uk. He can help you draft a local press release to get a story in the local newspapers once it has passed! After the motion has been discussed or hopefully passed, do let us know and we can help get the word out! We're keeping count and can email your local council leader to let them know the news.
- The councillor got back to me and said they wouldn't be able to discuss it for months. Do I still want them to put forward the motion?
Yes! The schedule for council meetings is busy so it might not be discussed immediately, but that's ok! A motion passed in two or three months will still be brilliant! You can ask for our help to update the motion!
- I want to take this action but I feel like I have a few questions and would like more background. What should I do?
Please do email us to say hello and ask your questions! We'll get back to you and do our best to help!
Alternatively, there's a briefing on the campaign and the background here.
- What if others in my area are doing this?
Let us know you've taking the action at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you coordinate with others in your area who are keen to campaign for local, public test and trace! However it's not the end of the world if the motion is being discussed by multiple councillors and brought to council by several people. This makes for more pressure to pass the motion!
- The councillor wants to speak about the motion quickly. What do I do?
The councillor/s might want to have a quick call to discuss taking the motion forward. This is a good sign of their interest, so do your best to have a call - you don't need to be an expert and there's more background on test and trace here.
What's the situation with test and trace now?
A functioning Test and Trace system is still absolutely vital to stopping this virus spreading over the coming months and year, as Independent SAGE members, the WHO and public health experts like Prof. Devi Sridhar have asserted time and time again.
However, while test and trace in England was rightly criticised across the media for its failures last year, now much of the media focus has now gone to vaccines, which are being billed as the only way out of this crisis. On top of this, Test and Trace changed how they measure the contacts they've reached late last year. This makes it much easier for the national privatised operation in England (contact tracing is run by local public teams in Wales, Scotland and NI) to say that they've hit the 80% target of close contacts reached.
In reality, months on, privatised test and trace in England is still not up to scratch, and still not for several reasons, including:
- While many local and regional public health teams have set up local operations rooted in their communities, they are still in a situation where they are trying to do contact tracing days days after the privatised system has failed. Local Leaders are still asking to be able to contact people earlier after a positive test. (See 10:54:00-11:00:00 of a recent Committee session with local Public Health leaders here.)
- This is because the remote, privatised system is STILL not reaching enough people. According to the Government's statistics, only 70.8% of contacts from a different household to the positive case were successfully reached and told to self-isolate in the week up to the 3rd February.
- We STILL need local public health teams to get the funding to lead on test and trace, so that they can provide the all-round LOCAL support needed to isolate that an online form and remote callers with a script cannot give. Additionally, lots of people are not isolating because they simply cannot afford to. We need a comprehensive system that supports people financially to stop the spread.