Home But Not Alone helpline service boost for the most vulnerable during lockdown

A helpline to support the most vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis has received 935 calls in West Suffolk.

Staff at West Suffolk Council are answering calls 9am to 5pm seven days a week from people who are vulnerable, without support from family and friends and who need food, medicine or who feel lonely and need someone to talk to. The council staff then contact volunteers in their area.

Laura, pictured above, is part of the team at West Suffolk Council answering calls to the Home, But Not Alone service which is now in its sixth week.

She said: “One of the calls I’ve taken was from a man in his 80s who been told to shield by his doctor due to having underlying health conditions. He needed help with getting his medical supplies so our team contacted some of the wonderful volunteers in his area who were happy to collect and deliver this to him.”

Across West Suffolk, the council is connected with a network of hundreds of groups of community volunteers, some serving estates, others whole villages or towns. Among them is a group of 30 volunteers organised by Lakenheath Parish Council.

Belinda Metson, one of its volunteers, said: “This is my community, there are people that are very vulnerable to coronavirus – whether because of their age or health conditions and I want to do all that I can to help them get through this terrible time. Normally I work for an airline serving people at 35,000ft but I’ve got my feet firmly on the ground supporting people here where I live.”

Lakenheath Parish Clerk Clare Shimmon said: “We have a great community spirit in Lakenheath. There was already a very successful good neighbour scheme helping residents but the village has stepped up with lots of new people volunteering their time to support the Lakenheath Coronavirus Action Group which is great.”

Leader of West Suffolk Council John Griffiths said: “Home But Not Alone is not about replacing, but supporting the fantastic work that community volunteers are doing in helping people get food or medicines. Its purpose is as a safety net to ensure no one who is vulnerable through age or health conditions, is left home, alone and worried about how they will get the food and medicines that they need.

“Our staff are working hard with volunteers to help out the most vulnerable and the telephone number is there for anyone who is vulnerable and who doesn’t have family and friends nearby to support them at this time. Equally we are keen to work with community groups that are out helping people and would ask if they haven’t already, that they drop us a line to families.communities@westsuffolk.gov.uk.”

The Home, But Not Alone number is 0800 876 6926.

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