By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead


Times are hard, and they are likely to get much harder before they get better as we move into Autumn.

Across the Bay, families and individuals are struggling to make ends meet as ever larger fuel bills drop through the letterbox and the costs of the weekly shop climb ever higher.

Calls to the Torbay Community Helpline are spiralling higher than experienced at the height of the COVID crisis as worried callers seek help to keep the lights on and put food on the table.

In recent weeks the number of calls has risen so high that hours have had to be restricted to allow call handlers a break and time to process the numerous requests for help, so if you need to call 01803 446022, then please note the new hours – 10pm to 1pm and 3-6pm from Monday to Friday and 11:30am to 12:30pm on Saturdays.

In one week in September, the calls were running at more than 700. That included 70 new people that had never contacted the Helpline before, bringing the total number of people in the Bay supported to more than 9,500. That is one in 140 people of the Bay’s total population.

As the weather turns colder, energy bills rise, inflation bites and interest rates rise, then the Helpline call handlers are braced for even busier times, and they need your help.

The Helpline not only needs volunteers to help take calls, but we also need to relieve some of the pressure on it and communities are again urged to come together and look after their own, just like they did during the worst of the coronavirus crisis.

Strong, resilient communities need to look to themselves to get through the worst of this – do not assume that your neighbour is OK. A vulnerable elderly person is easy to spot, but what of the apparently healthy younger person? This crisis is across the board and will hit in hitherto unexpected places.

All it takes is a call, a knock on the door or a quick conversation in the street to find out how your neighbours are coping or not. Come the Autumn, as the new, and higher bills drop they may be sitting in the dark and the cold, either unwilling or unable to switch on the lights or the heating.

We need a network of good neighbour schemes covering every street and every community in the Bay, we need to know that everyone is connected, and it only takes one or two people in each area to make it happen.

If you want to be your street’s Good Neighbour, please go to bit.ly/goodneighbourtorbay or call the Helpline on 01803 446022.

Neighbours photo courtesy of Freepik.com