Shielding and socialising in Torbay

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

TORBAY is getting busy again with the streets thronged with shoppers and tourists – so much so you could be forgiven for thinking things were back to normal.

But we should not be lulled into a false sense of security and it is important to remember that not everyone is back out and about shopping, visiting cafes, restaurants and pubs or visiting each other.

Thousands of residents are choosing to remain shielded as much as possible and advice letters containing bright yellow lanyards which warn that the wearer is still social distancing have been dropping through letterboxes this week.

The lanyards will hopefully serve as a helpful reminder to others that some people are choosing to remain as isolated as is practically possible until a vaccine is created and we are finally given the all clear.

Please watch out for them, and please respect their wish to maintain a social distance.

The lanyard will be worn by the most vulnerable as they strive to find their own version of a new normal and for some wearers it will be the first time that they have ventured out since lockdown began.

The Torbay Community Helpline (01803 446022) is still available for those that need it and we will continue to put people offering help in touch with those that need it for as long as they need it.

We will continue to ensure that food shopping is done, that medicines continue to be collected and will ensure that a myriad of other chores are covered by willing local volunteers.

All across the Bay people are coming up with creative ways to keep in touch with each other and to find alternatives to the usual meet and mingle events such as coffee mornings, music evenings and even book clubs.

For those with access to a computer a great deal is going online with regular Zoom calls, Facetime and Skype video calls filling the gaps wherever possible.

One thriving group who used to meet regularly for catch-ups at the Dolphin Pub in St Marychurch are now sharing stories and supporting each other via weekly Zoom calls set up by their Community Builders.

Betty, one of the participants is learning new skills as well as catching up with friends and having a laugh. Not a substitute for eating fish and chips and having a drink face to face, but a fun and sensible alternative.

“I have enjoyed our chats on Zoom and the laughs it provokes as we hear people saying ‘She needs to unmute’, ‘She needs to click on video’ or ‘We can only see your head’ etc, etc.”

“It’s been a revelation to me and I am learning new skills, slowly but surely., so that’s a bonus. It’s great to see everyone to find out how they’re coping and to listen to each other’s problems, joys and miseries,” she said.

And that is the challenge for all of us in these peculiar times and it is important that we all find ways of keeping connected until better solutions can be found.

Community Builders who have worked tirelessly through this crisis (and continue to do so) have been checking in with people across the Bay to make sure that as others start going out and socialising again, that no-one gets left out.

The Torbay Over 50’s Assembly (TOFA) has gone online to resume their work championing older members of the local population and are looking to ensure they have a voice as we begin the process of rebuild our communities.

The same goes for the Ageing Well Festival, which was due to be held at the Riviera Centre in Torquay on Saturday, October 24th and is now out of the question, but that is not to say there should not be an annual celebration of ageing.

Instead, we are planning something we have not had to try before – the Ageing Well Festival @Home when we plan to bring the best bits of our festival – music, talks, workshops and advice into your living room.

And yes, we even aim to get you up and dancing in the privacy of your own home – not the same, but great fun nonetheless.

Over the next few months, we aim to record sessions that will then be broadcast online and via Riviera FM (107.9) throughout the day. It won’t be the same, but it will be fun, so pop it into your diary.

Hopefully we will see you there (virtually).