Over 4,000 calls have now been made to a single helpline for non-medical Coronavirus support – which remains open for anyone needing help and advice this bank holiday weekend.
The Somerset Coronavirus Helpline, launched on 6 April by the five Somerset Local Authorities, was set up to make it easier for people to access any local authority help they may need in the current crisis.
The helpline number is 0300 790 6275 and is open 8m to 6pm, seven days a week, making it the one number people need to remember for Coronavirus-related enquiries.
Set up by the five Local Authorities – Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, Somerset West & Taunton and South Somerset District Council – anyone who can’t find help within their own local networks and volunteers, can use the new number to get help and advice around:
· Personal care and support including food and delivery of prescriptions
· Support for the homeless
· Emotional support if you’re feeling worried or anxious
· Transport to medical appointments
· Waste collection and disposal
· Financial support
The number doesn’t cover medical advice, for which people will need to continue to use the 111 NHS online service and only ring 111 if they cannot get help online.
Examples of some of the enquiries the helpline has received so far include:
- A single man in his 70s contacted the helpline because he had run out of money for gas and electricity. When he talked to the call handler, it also emerged he did not have enough money for food to take him through to the time he would receive his pension. The call handler transferred him so that an urgent food parcel could be arranged and a form was completed to provide on going financial support for his food and utility bills.
- A woman in her 80s with several health conditions was running out of food and did not know what to do, so contacted the helpline for support and advice. She was also feeling quite lonely and isolated, but did not like to ask for help. The call handler arranged for a local Village Agent to provide support, including help with her shopping.
- A woman in her 50s contacted the helpline extremely upset and worried about how she would get food and medical supplies. The woman, who is registered as at risk, has been self- isolating for over six weeks. The call handler contacted her local supermarket and organised a priority slot for food delivery and her shopping was delivered the same day. The call handler also arranged for a Village Agent to pick up two outstanding prescriptions and deliver some food so she did not go hungry while she was waiting for her delivery from the supermarket. The call handler called her back later in the day to check that everything had arrived and that the woman was OK.
Staff from all five Local Authorities have also been making telephone ‘callouts’ from a list of over 1700 residents identified as potentially requiring support.
Over 866 of these have responded they are fine and have support in place from families, friends and communities. Over 25, however, have been passed to the Community Council For Somerset for a further welfare check.
Letters to local people have also been sent which means in total the five councils together with the NHS have contacted over 70,000 local people.
For more information and to subscribe to the latest Somerset Coronavirus news go to https://www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus/