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High praise for council staff who helped hundreds of residents through lockdown

Ann Thomson

A DEDICATED team of council staff have received high praise after helping make sure hundreds of self-isolating residents across Barrow had access to the essential supplies they needed during lockdown.

The outbreak of Covid-19 brought unprecedented changes to daily life, with those shielding or self-isolating asked to stay at home in a bid to halt the spread of the virus and save lives.

However, a group of Barrow Borough Council staff members stepped forward to make sure help and support was just a phone call away through the Cumbria County Council delivered Cumbria Emergency Helpline.

New figures show the team helped ensure 3,180 food parcels were delivered directly to people’s homes along with 252 emergency prescriptions.

In all, alongside Cumbria County Council colleagues, they help answer 511 calls from their base within Barrow Town Hall.

Councillor Ann Thomson, Barrow Borough Council leader, said: “I have nothing but praise for the efforts of the council staff who worked to make sure no-one in the borough had to go without the things they needed while either themselves, or someone in their household, had symptoms of coronavirus.

“They volunteered without hesitation to operate this line for people across Barrow right the way through lockdown and since.

“The care, help and advice they have provided to so many people is incredible and also invaluable.

“My thanks go to everyone involved in making sure those shielding or self-isolating were able to get the supplies and support they needed at an unprecedented time.”

The team at Barrow Borough Council is made up of ten staff from a variety of departments within the authority.

As well as arranging deliveries of food and medicines, they have helped with everything from locating a hearing aid battery to finding expert advice for a resident who was concerned about the mental wellbeing of a neighbour.

Alec Proffitt, Barrow Borough Council’s policy and engagement officer, was instrumental in helping to set up the vital support service.

He said: “At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown Age UK and St Mary’s Hospice established a support line for vulnerable residents to seek support for food, shopping and prescription collections,” he said.

“The line was originally staffed by St Mary’s clinical staff. There was a need for the staff to return to the hospice and the borough council agreed to seek volunteers for redeployment.

“A huge number of staff volunteered to be redeployed into various roles to support the community resilience effort and ten were selected to assist with staffing the phone lines in the first week.

“I have been amazed by the flexibility, talent and compassion of the staff who are answering calls every day to help people across Barrow.

“They are all absolutely brilliant and their commitment to helping people in this area through a difficult time has been genuinely staggering.”

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