Argyll and Bute, Scotland, June 30, 2020 -- More than 3,000 people in Argyll and Bute have requested support from a coronavirus helpline since its launch 13 weeks ago.
The Caring for People helpline, which went live on March 27 during the first few days of lockdown, has taken 3,875 different requests from 3,217 people, including some from repeat clients.
The initiative was set up by Argyll and Bute Council - in partnership with the Third Sector Interface (TSI), the Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) and NHS Highland - in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Over the last week there were 176 calls to the helpline from community members who are self-isolating or vulnerable and whose usual support network is no longer available; this was a decrease from 223 calls two weeks previously.
A similar national helpline started by the Scottish Government is also seeing a reduction in calls, indicating that most people now have some form of support in place.
However ‘Test and Protect’, Scotland’s contact tracing scheme which was launched with phase one of the country’s route map out of lockdown, will provide both the national and local helpline numbers to those who need support while they are asked to self isolate, meaning the number of calls may increase in the coming weeks.
Argyll and Bute Council’s Coronavirus Helpline has taken 7,962 calls up to the close of play on June 21, with the Caring for People helpline accounting for nearly half of those calls.
Meanwhile, just under 1,000 people have now registered to provide a range of volunteer services across the region during the pandemic.
Managed by the TSI, the volunteer portal lists roles such as telephone befrienders, PPE makers and delivery and collection drivers for shopping, prescriptions and essential supplies.
Giving feedback during volunteer week earlier this month, one helper said: "Very well organised and it’s good to work with a number of volunteers in the community from various backgrounds.
"I’m just glad to have the opportunity to give something back to the community while being furloughed from my work."
A spokesperson for the Caring for People tactical partnership said: "We want to say a huge thank you to all of the volunteers involved in supporting communities at this time."
Food delivery remains the most common request to the helpline and a significant operation has been established by the local authority to provide packages to those who are vulnerable and in need across Argyll and Bute.
Hundreds of volunteers have helped with the picking and packing of food parcels at six distribution sites, including Hermitage Academy, but with the country moving into phase two of lockdown easing changes will be made to support people who still need food supplies.
More than 35,000 food parcels have been delivered since the start of the project, with the council stating that "partnership working has been critical to meeting the demand".
There are now more than 3,200 people in Argyll and Bute shielding because of underlying health conditions, according to the Caring for People partnership.
The local shielding effort has resulted in 707 people being signed up for national food parcels, 998 for local food parcels, 313 for pharmacy assistance and 26 referred to the emotional support service, which commenced in mid-May.
Officials say the customer contact centre will continue to make calls on a frequent basis to those shielding until no longer required or until the client requests to stop; over half have now said they do not require any further support.
As emotional wellbeing was identified as an area likely to be impacted during and after the coronavirus pandemic, the Emotional Support Service was launched to signpost anyone requiring support to the most appropriate organisation for that individual.
The spokesperson added: "Finding the right type of support can be very difficult especially for people with limited access to the internet or who become overwhelmed trying to navigate through the many organisations available.
"The Emotional Support Service is a self-help service that will help people more easily find the right support."
For more information on how to request help for yourself, or others, visit the website or call 01546 605524.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2020
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