A new community hub to help the most vulnerable people in Bath and North East Somerset access critical support during the Covid-19 pandemic has handled more than 1,000 calls during its first week of operation.
The Compassionate Community hub, co-ordinated by B&NES 3rd Sector Group with support from Virgin Care in BaNES, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the NHS, has made more than 500 referrals to experts and volunteers from people needing help with food, mental health, wellbeing and welfare.
The hub works closely with food banks and volunteers to ensure people can access direct support when they need it. The first weekend alone saw around 50 people receive help, including 12 urgent food and medication deliveries to their doorsteps.
The team has already contacted more than 200 people from an initial list of 278 people in the district who need to be shielded and are therefore unable to leave their homes for 12 weeks, due to them being at very high risk of severe illness from Covid-19 because of an underlying health condition.
The Compassionate Community telephone line is 0300 247 0050 and is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. It will be closed on Easter Sunday to allow the volunteers a well-earned rest.
Councillor Dine Romero, council leader, said: “It’s testament to the community spirit in Bath and North East Somerset that we are all pulling together to support those most in need through this extraordinary time. I would like to thank 3SG, Virgin Care, our other partners and all the volunteers for working tirelessly to ensure people are getting the food and medications they need. They are making a huge difference to vulnerable people’s ability to cope with the pandemic.”
The hub has also received some positive praise from Twitter users. One said: “Referred a family to your number two days ago. The support offered was reported by the family as amazing and they were in receipt of food 2 hrs later. Keep up the good work, amazing!!”. A volunteer also said: “Thank you @banes3sg for matching me up to my ‘befriendee’. We had a lovely, long chat and looking forward to lots more. You’ve helped me feel useful in these strange times.”
James Carlin, Director of 3SG, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Hub became a reality in such a short period time and our aim now is to ensure that people without internet access can access our support if they need it. I’d like to thank the thousands of people that signed up to volunteer, it’s been inspiring to hear their stories as they are start supporting people across B&NES.”
Vulnerable people with concerns over food supply, welfare or wellbeing should seek help from the hub, but residents who are able to safely get support from family and friends or to order their food or medication on-line should continue to do so. It means staff operating the phone line can prioritise those who need the most help and answer calls as quickly as possible.
Kirsty Matthews, Managing Director four Bath and North East Somerset Community Health and Care Services, said: “This is an amazing example of collaboration across different organisations and shows how we can all pull together in a time of crisis to support the communities we serve. The amazing people volunteering and working as part of the hub are a credit to their organisations and BaNES.”
The hub can help those most in need with:
- Delivery of urgent supplies
- A friendly phone call
- Collection of medication
- Money matters and work
- Mental wellbeing (including loneliness, low mood, anxiety)
- Advice on keeping fit
- Housing issues
- Supporting your family
- Food and cooking
- Understanding public health advice
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