One call, that’s all

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

SOME might say it was inevitable, but as of tomorrow we all face further restrictions because of the rising number of cases of COVID-19

Over the last few weeks, the number of cases in Torbay has risen steadily, and sadly there have been more deaths at Torbay Hospital, but we remained Tier One until much tougher rules were introduced right across the country which become law tomorrow.

We must all remain vigilant and whether locked down or not we all need to pay attention to the main precautionary message of  hands, face and space which thankfully most people in this are were already adhering to.

Voluntary and charitable organisations have continued to work alongside the statutory authorities such as the Torbay and South Devon NHS and Torbay Council to ensure all that can be done in this fight is being done

It remains essential that we ease the pressure on Torbay Hospital, particularly at this time of year when they always become busier with a variety of winter related ills, other than coronavirus.

The Helpline, which became a primary focus during lockdown, continues to work with the most vulnerable in the Bay and is again stepping up capacity to meet the needs of those who need a little bit of extra help as the lockdown again takes effect.

Since it launched back in March the Helpline, which was originally set up by Torbay Community Development Trust, Healthwatch Torbay, Age UK Torbay, Brixham Does Care and Citizens Advice Torbay, has take somewhere in the region of 15000 calls.

Staffed with the help of volunteers more than 4000 have people in touch – some to ask for help others to offer their services ensuring that no-one in the Bay goes hungry or becomes isolated.

So successful has the Helpline been that it is now funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and The Office for Civil Society (part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) with a grant of just short of £100,000 to keep it going for the next six months.

As it evolves to become a one stop shop for services in the Bay, the original partners have been joined by volunteers and expertise from a variety of other organisations including Torbay Council, Yes Brixham, Libraries Unlimited, What’s Your Problem CIC, the Torbay Advice Network, Disability Support Torbay, Homemaker Southwest and the Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust.

As a result, the Helpline is providing triage services to support people who need help with their finances, it is the referral service for the foodbanks, and is increasingly providing help with those struggling with their mental health.

In short if you have an issue and do not know where to go, then the best place to start is a call to the Helpline on 01803 446022 and if we don’t know the answer, then we will find it for you.

The Helpline is operating from 10am to 6pm from Monday through to Friday and from 9.30pm through to 12.30pm. If you need help, please ring it and if you can offer help, get in touch. We need you.

Even though we remain on alert against the virus, thus people in Brixham, Torquay and Paignton have managed to ride out the worst of it, in no small part because of the way everyone pulled together in a time of crisis

But the calls were still coming in and there are people that are still suffering the effects of COVID, directly through illness or bereavement or indirectly through a catastrophic change in their circumstances.

Every week we find new people who have turned to the Helpline for the first time – and the longer this crisis continues the more complex the calls become. We are expecting many more after tomorrow.

So if you can help – perhaps as a befriender for someone lonely, as rapid responder picking up food or meds, setting up a Good Neighbour scheme or even answering calls on the Helpline itself do get in touch.

We have adopted a battle cry for the Helpline which is One Call – That’s All and we aim to live up to that no matter what is thrown at us here in the Bay.

One thing is for certain – we’ve got your back and we know that if we ask for your help, then you will be there for each other.

Ring to register as a volunteer today – 01803 446022.