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‘An amazing response’ - how volunteers are making a huge difference

PUBLISHED: 14:09 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:09 03 April 2020

Phil Aves of Lowestoft Rising. photo: James Carr.

Phil Aves of Lowestoft Rising. photo: James Carr.

Archant

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

Last week a new Suffolk-focused community service – entitled Home But Not Alone – was established to support people 
who need help during the pandemic.

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

The Home But Not Alone service was created by partners from Suffolk’s councils, police, health bodies and charitable organisations which come together as the Collaborative Communities Board.

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

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: “It seems like a few weeks, with things changing every day, but we’ve only been up and running since last Wednesday.

“We’ve got a good database already coming into us through a central number. The system is working as we have volunteers responding by doing shopping for them and getting food and medicines that they need but are unable to do so.

“The community has been brilliant.

“We have church groups – including three Oulton churches working together as a team – the Pakefield community working really hard, the guys at the Foodbank and Salvation Army doing meals.

“We have the Flipside charity helping out, 
the three rotary clubs in the town have been involved on the telephones while 51 taxis have been brilliant delivering items.

“We have had a great response from the supermarkets, including Morrisons and Asda, as we’re able to offer a range of solutions – including doing shopping, collect prescriptions and medicines and offer a meals on wheels service.

“There is so much going on you can’t comprehend it has all happened in just the past week – it is an amazing response.

“But it is all worth it as it makes such a difference to people who are vulnerable and need help.”

Volunteers sought

With Lowestoft Rising and the East Suffolk Council Communities Team working across the district to ensure those in need of essential supplies – but have no way of getting them – are assisted, a call has gone out for volunteers to join the effort.

A spokesman for the East Suffolk Council’s Communities Team said: “We need people to shop for our elderly and vulnerable in our communities.

“The Lowestoft area are particularly seeking individuals who have DBS checks.”

The telephone number for those in need of help is freephone 0800 876 6926, which is staffed from 9am to 5pm.

This is not a general information line for COVID-19 queries, but those in need can seek information on support with care needs, loneliness and to connect with community support.

If you think you are able to offer help to volunteer with the team, visit the Facebook page and submit a private message.

‘Stay indoors and stay safe’

Lowestoft Rising was set up in 2015 to create a significantly improved quality of life for everybody growing up, living in, working in, visiting and investing in Lowestoft.

Comprising a number of public sector partners, Phil Aves, partnership change manager at the organisation, said: “I think the five years of work we have done here with Lowestoft Rising to build up a community with partnership working it has really paid off.

“When we needed help, our volunteers have responded when we needed them.

“We’ve not had to wait, people have got on and done it, which is huge.

“And the response from the community, everyone has been so very grateful.

“It has made a real difference.

“Some people can’t use the internet or won’t use it to order online, they feel isolated.

“We are able to say to them its okay, we can, as a community help.

“We need the community with us. The key message is to stay indoors and stay safe, follow the government advice as we have enough people prepared to get you what you need.”

Subscribe to our daily coronavirus newsletter, with all the latest from where you live. Visit t.email.archant.co.uk/lp/EDP_News_Alerts

For regular updates on the good deeds that people are doing for others, visit the Norfolk and Waveney Here to Help Facebook group .


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