By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
ANOTHER Bank Holiday and more fabulous weather tempting more people out of lockdown.
But for a lot of people, nothing has changed. It probably won’t for a long time yet and that is why we will continue to staff the Torbay Community Coronavirus Helpline, offering support and advice whenever it is needed.
We are reducing the hours a little, but we have also increased the number of people available to answer the calls as they come in to 01803 446022 between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Friday and from 9:30 am until 12:30 pm on Saturdays.
Since we started the helpline more than ten weeks ago we have been there for more than 7,500 people who have rung in to ask for help or with offers of help.
Initially, we were overwhelmed, but somehow we managed to stay on top of it as more and more people from other organisations joined the Torbay Community Development Trust, Age UK Torbay, Brixham Does Care and Healthwatch Torbay.
As the crisis progressed we were able to offer advice and expertise on an ever wider range of subjects and staff from Citizens Advice Torbay, and Torbay Council were on hand at the end of the phone to make sure the right people were providing the right answers.
We can now help with just about everything from mental health issues to financial advice as well as shopping, prescription collections and telephone befriending. We can also just be there for you.
As the lockdown eases for some, we are aware that others are feeling even more alone and isolated as they look out of the window and see others taking the first steps back to normality.
From the beginning we have had volunteers – some locked down themselves – available to make phone calls to assure others that they have not been abandoned and others are in the same position.
Lots has changed, and lots more will continue to change as people return to work, the High Street throws open its doors, and pubs and restaurants re-open – albeit tentatively.
Our challenge is to think differently and to act differently to make sure we remain alert and stay safe, and with that in mind, we have taken the decision to move our annual celebration that is the Ageing Well Festival into next year.
October we feel is simply too soon to even think about bringing thousands of older people together in one place, but that got us thinking. What if we bring people together, but not in a physical sense?
A few weeks ago, lots of us knew nothing of Skype or Zoom. We had never used FaceTime, and WhatsApp was a mystery, but now things are different and they are the main ways we have kept in touch with other through all this.
We have joined exercise classes online, sung in virtual choirs, done pub quizzes without going to the bar and watched live theatre from the comfort of our own front rooms.
We live in a different world now and we figured that as well as moving the physical festival out to next April 17th, we could go ahead with a virtual festival on the original date of Saturday, October 24th.
Plans are only just starting to come together for the virtual festival but we are looking for a day long event which will feature a flavour of the regular events with talks, workshops and dance and exercise classes and of course music. Lots of music.
We are looking for the cream of the Bay’s talent to come forward to work with us to make this another festival to remember. Just like last year at the Riviera Centre in Torquay we want to put smiles on faces.
It is a challenge, but one that we know people will rise to that challenge and we want to hear from you if you have suggestions about what should be included.
We are aware that not everyone is on Facebook and not everyone is comfortqble going online, but we hope to run remote training to get more people connected before the event.
We are looking at podcasts, live streaming on Facebook, classes on YouTube and videos hosted on our websites. The (virtual) world is our oyster. But we of course need your help to make it happen
Please drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have ideas or want to get involved and we will, if at all possible, make it happen.
Whether it is the helpline – 01803 446022 or the Ageing Well Festival, we are here for you.