‘I hope people will return to helping one another’: Communities ready to respond

Phil Aves of Lowestoft Rising. photo: James Carr.

Phil Aves of Lowestoft Rising. photo: James Carr. - Credit: Archant

They were hailed as “unsung heroes” for rallying round to ensure that vital support was available to the elderly and vulnerable amid the continuing coronavirus crisis.

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

And after the success of a Suffolk-focused community service – entitled Home, But Not Alone – in supporting people who needed help during the pandemic, the service resumed this week.

With eight community “hub” areas set up in the East of the county, a co-ordinated approach is under way in Lowestoft once more in helping the local community with emergency deliveries of food and medication to those self-isolating and vulnerable.

The Home, But Not Alone service – which was created earlier this year by partners from Suffolk’s councils, police, health bodies and charitable organisations coming together as the Collaborative Communities Board – was paused in August, but it is up and running again now.

With the Lowestoft Rising organisation linking with East Suffolk Council’s Communities Team, volunteers from a range of different groups are set to team up once more to help those in need.

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It involves those in genuine need of help calling the freephone telephone number 0800 876 6926 to be added to a database of support.

Lowestoft Rising partnership change manager Phil Aves said: “Home, But Not Alone will again be running across Suffolk and East Suffolk will play its part helping those CEV people who need help.”

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Having praised the “brilliant” community response last time round, Mr Aves said that more volunteers are now needed.

He said: “We will need more volunteers to help local organisations and the central team to help those who need it.

“Volunteers can either contact an organisation direct or come to East Suffolk Communities Team to register and we will help match them up.

“The community coming together at times like this is so important.

“Some of our volunteers from before may well have to work this time, so we will be looking for new people who can help out, even one day a week is helpful.

“Whilst we will co-ordinate a response many people will go direct to organisations they know and we are grateful that all our organisations pull together.”

Highlighting the organisations who rallied round before, Mr Aves said these included the Foodbank, Rotary clubs, Flipside, Access Community Trust, supermarkets, Outreach on the Street and Feed Waveney Community, Citizen’s Advice through Social Prescribing, Church and faith groups across the town, Pakefield Community Group, parish groups like Corton and Lound and pharmacies.

Of the latest lockdown, Mr Aves said: “Personally I liked the idea of a tiered response depending on data, but it was clear that the levels were growing everywhere so we had to put the brakes on.

“We know a lockdown will work if people comply fully.

“It seems we have learnt some lessons from the first lockdown and I’m glad that schools are staying open.”

Ahead of the busy Christmas build-up and the community response, Mr Aves said: “The town had started to get busier again and this will be a blow to retail.

“Communities will respond now. I urge people not to panic buy as supermarkets are fully stocked and there is no shortage.

“I hope people will return to helping one another as we saw in the first lockdown.

“The Prime Minister was very clear that it will be four weeks only and we need to follow all the advice for four weeks – keep safe, keep home where we can, follow the rules and don’t try and find ways to break them.

“Don’t put extra pressure on the police and NHS services and look after older neighbours who can’t get out.

“Personally I was shocked at the number of MP’s this week asking questions of the Prime Minister as they were more worried about golf clubs, tennis clubs and outdoor swimming pools being open than they were about children being hungry and people living in tents.

“It seems like we have forgotten what this is all about - saving lives not socialising.”

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