More than 27,000 people have contacted a helpline for emergency support during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cumbria County Council launched the Emergency Support Helpline, staffed by council workers and volunteers, in March last year.
The helpline has been receiving requests for support from vulnerable or isolated people who aren’t able to rely on friends, family or neighbours and may be struggling for essential supplies, Councillor Deborah Earl, cabinet member for public health and communities told the cabinet at a meeting this week.
The most common requests are for medication and prescription collections, food supplies and from family members who are isolating or shielding themselves and who would normally provide care to relatives.
The support line also offers advice and guidance on PPE requirements, as well as test and trace, with almost 3,000 organisations now linked through the local system.
The helpline can also offer access to the support payment scheme, to help those who have been affected financially due to COVID-19 with a one-off payment, issuing 252 grants totalling £28,820 to date.
The council’s ‘Ways to Welfare’ scheme has also been incorporated as part of the support line – supporting and referring people with a variety of concerns, including a significant increase in those struggling with mental health and domestic violence issues, as well as help with energy and food costs, and access to furniture and white goods. So far, the council has made over 1,200 Ways to Welfare payments, totalling more than £82,000.
Mrs Earl said: “Our Emergency Support Helpline continues to offer a lifeline to vulnerable people who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill, as a result of COVID-19, and who do not have support available from friends, family or neighbours.
“If people have no alternative support, they should contact the helpline to request help getting food, medicines, essential supplies and home deliveries.
“We are continuing to work alongside local businesses, community groups, volunteers and redeployed employees to support vulnerable people in our local communities, particularly those in the shielding group.
“I am pleased that this support line has been able to help so many people – from providing information and guidance on shielding, to delivering medicines and helping with food shopping, as well as the financial support provided to those struggling as a result of the pandemic.
“My sincere thanks to all of the people involved behind the scenes – this has been a partnership effort and I am grateful to all of the council staff, local businesses and volunteers that have helped make the support line possible.”
People can contact the helpline seven days a week and in a variety of ways, including via telephone, online or by email:
- Call the emergency helpline on 0800 783 1966.
- Online at cumbria.gov.uk.
- Email your request for help to COVID19support@cumbria.gov.uk.
The helpline operates Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and 10am to 2pm at weekends and bank holidays.
The service also accepts referrals from people who may be concerned about people in their community.