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Steady Demand On Surrey’s Community Helpline With Volunteers And Food

Published on: 21 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 22 Apr, 2020

There are 250 calls a day to Surrey’s coronavirus community helpline from those needing support or volunteering to help others. Call handlers equipped to work remotely are making sure vulnerable people who need support are matched with help groups or services.

They work closely with colleagues in Surrey’s district and borough councils to ensure anyone who can’t rely on family or friends get support, and that included over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

The 11 councils are plugged into a network of voluntary and community groups, all contributing to a county-wide effort to help people struggling in the coronavirus outbreak, whether it be assistance with food deliveries, prescriptions or dealing with isolation.

The Spectrum Leisure Centre – its food distribution operation is not open to the public

Hubs around the county including Guildford’s Spectrum Centre are distributing food or providing other services. More information about the Spectrum operation can be found here and that includes delivering food parcels to those sheltering from coronavirus due to medical conditions and unable to find other help.

Since the community helpline was launched on Thursday, March 19, demand has risen steadily and it has already dealt with more than 2,500 calls and more than 160 requests for help via the online form, mainly concerning food and prescription delivery.

A couple in their 90s sheltering from the virus rang the helpline with an urgent request for food. The husband is blind while his wife has dementia. The helpline, working with the district council, the county council’s transport team and the Spectrum, arranged for a food package to be delivered to them first thing the next morning, in a way that would enable them to take the items into their home without needing additional assistance.

Other calls from volunteers connect them with support groups in their own areas.

SCC leader Tim Oliver

County council leader Tim Oliver said: “The helpline is part of a huge community effort to make sure the most vulnerable people in our county are protected through these difficult times and I’d encourage people to continue using it, both to volunteer if they are able and call for help if they need it.”

  • There is a wealth of advice and information on the county council’s coronavirus webpages at surreycc.gov.uk/coronavirus. Links to coronavirus updates from all 11 district and borough councils in Surrey can be found here.
  • The helpline number is 0300 200 1008. The Spectrum Centre food hub is not open to the public. Anyone needing support is urged to contact the helpline.
  • You can also request help by filling in our online “I Need Help” request form. If the helpline is open, we recommend you call to talk to someone. The form can be used when the helpline is closed.
  • There is an SMS number, 0786 0053 465, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm). Outside those times, the online form is available.
  • Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 are encouraged to register with the government here and heed the advice here to shield from coronavirus for at least 12 weeks.”

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