It’s been just over a week since Cumbria County Council and partners launched an Emergency Support Helpline for vulnerable or isolated people in need of urgent help. The emergency helpline has already taken over 1,000 calls, receiving around 200 calls a day but seeing slightly less on weekends.
The helpline exists to provide support to people at ‘high risk’ who aren’t able to rely on neighbours, friends or family members, and may be struggling for food, medicines or other essential supplies. The requests for help are matched with local support which is being offered by a network of community groups, volunteers, redeployed council employees, and local businesses.
Councillor Deborah Earl, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said: “This is a huge team effort, the service is working well and I’m incredibly proud of everyone involved.
“Our teams are working closely with partners, local businesses, community groups and volunteers to make sure we get emergency supplies of food and medicines to our county’s most vulnerable people.
“It’s a serious job and a vital service for people who can’t access support from friends or family, I’m delighted that feedback from partners and service users has been overwhelmingly positive.”
How to contact the Emergency Support Helpline:
- Phone – The emergency telephone support helpline is 0800 783 1966.
- Online – COVID-19 online support form.
- Email your request for help to [email protected].
The telephone call centre operates Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and 10am to 2pm at weekends. The service also accept referrals from members of the public who may be concerned about people in their community. Over the Bank Holiday, Friday 10 April to Monday 13 April, the service will operate between 10am to 2pm.
Voluntary and Community Groups right across Cumbria have stepped up to the challenge of ensuring their communities are supported effectively during this time. At least 300 voluntary groups are now working hard to support the most vulnerable in their communities, who have no other support network, to ensure they receive assistance with grocery shopping and pharmacy orders. The county council will continue to work alongside these groups, providing advice and guidance, and as a broker to ensure they are able to take up offers of help from local businesses, make connections with food providers or support with grant applications.
Additional efforts are also underway to make sure isolated people, and those who may be ‘offline’, are hearing about the service. This week, the county council will write to residents in the NHS ‘shielding’ category, and those who are classed as extremely vulnerable, to make them aware of the helpline service. This will be supported with an SMS (text message) and a mass leaflet drop across local communities. Members of the public, volunteers and local businesses can also help spread the word and download a pack of useful resources to print and share at www.cumbria.gov.uk/coronavirus.
The county council would like to thank colleagues, partners, community groups and volunteers, local businesses, the public and everyone involved for their commitment to supporting Cumbria’s most vulnerable people.