A thank you to helpline rapid responders

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

Tricky this coronavirus – just when you think it is (relatively safe) to go out and about it comes up and bites you where it hurts the most.

Last week saw the official lifting of shielding by the Government, which ironically coincided with a strengthening of the rules regarding socialising in as much as you are no longer allowed to meet in each other’s homes. Let us hope that is enough to reverse a trend in the numbers that were creeping upwards.

For thousands of people in Torbay it makes no difference what the Government say, they will remain shielded until such a time as there is a vaccine and the all-clear is finally sounded.

It is with the shielded in mind that the Helpline on 01803 446022 continues to operate six days a week between 10am and 6pm, Monday to Friday and 9:30am to 12:30pm on Saturdays, and our team is on hand to ensure no-one in the Bay becomes isolated, goes lonely or is left without food or meds.

We also have a plan in place should the virus spike and we are forced to return to a form of lockdown as has happened in other areas of the country. Our team is ready; we just hope that we are not needed.

This Saturday (August 8th) our Rapid Response team – an amazing bunch of people helping the most vulnerable in the Bay from the beginning of the crisis – will stand down for the first time in 146 days.

Hopefully, it won’t be needed again, but over the last few months, members of the Rapid Response team have put themselves out there at a time when others were locked down or self-isolating. They responded when there was no-one else, and they have turned out more than 2,500 times, at the peak up to 30 times a day.

Initially, the Rapid Response team was made up of our community builders, who were quickly joined by well-being coordinators from Age UK Torbay who took to the streets when only key workers were allowed out.

They shopped for food, they collected prescriptions, joining long snaking queues outside pharmacies and supermarkets at a time when personal protection equipment was not available.

Despite the shortage of PPE, they continued to make themselves available for others, even as speculation about the spread of the virus and in particular viral loading raged in the media. They put others before themselves at a time when no-one could be sure of the consequences.

Later they were joined by volunteers who came forward to help their neighbours, with sometimes some pretty odd requests – like delivering medical supplies and samples between surgeries and patients.

But they also did not baulk when the requests were specific, like the one for a specific brand of sparkling mineral water or another for apple crumble and a pint of milk.

They went above and beyond, and the rapid responders delivered with a smile – although most of the people they dealt with won’t know it, because when deliveries were made, they were safely behind their own closed door.

Despite the long hours (caused in part by long queues for everything) they showed an extraordinary commitment to getting it right like the time one Helpline caller was badly in need of medication but it was not available at her local pharmacy – our rapid responder travelled around Paignton until she found what she needed and then liaised with the surgery to get the prescription sent there.

The thank yous have been numerous and heartfelt, but in the same way as we named those that staffed the Helpline it is only right that we acknowledge the Rapid Responders:

  • Community Builders:
    • Rosemary Clarke
    • Victoria Campbell
    • Seema Patel
    • Ash Rangasamy
    • Nina Cooper
    • Gill Knight
    • Ruth Tshoukas
    • Christine Durrant
    • Jennie Langridge
    • Leah Whitcher
    • Tara Acton
    • Dan Best
    • Sally Farrant
  • Age UK Torbay:
    • Gwen Price
    • Esther Garrod
    • Rachel Coles
  • Children’s Services, Torbay Council:
    • Reza Cassim
    • Lucy Tunnicliffe
  • Together Church:
    • Peter Clayton
    • Brian Armstrong
    • Peter De Feu
    • Jill De Feu
    • Margaret Blakie
    • Chris Garner
    • Ally Salm
  • Volunteers:
    • Andrew Johnston
    • Tanya Alford
    • Bob Ward
    • Nicky Randall
    • Ben Long
  • Crafty Fox:
    • Karen Parker
    • Anna Murray
    • Jeff Hill
    • Brett Cooper
  • And the bus drivers who delivered carers’ PPE: David Mufford and Colin Warner.

Thank you to each and every one of you. Without you, things in the Bay could have been very different over the last few months. You are #TorbayKind.