ONE CALL, THAT’S ALL THIS CHRISTMAS

By Matt Saunders, Marketing & Communications Assistant

 

Unfortunately, the next few weeks will be tough for a lot of people – a trend which has sadly gotten worse over the last couple of years, with the impact of COVID taking its toll in 2020 & 2021, and the Cost of Living Crisis adding further complications this year.

Let’s not forget (albeit I appreciate many would rather do so) that COVID is still very much something to be cautious about, so please use common sense – test yourself before meeting vulnerable people/if you feel any symptoms/have been near those who’ve tested positive, and don’t forget about vaccination boosters for both COVID & the flu. Details for those can be found on the Torbay Council website, NHS website, or call 119/your GP to book.

COVID aside, with the Cost of Living Crisis comes a great deal of stress over finances of all kinds, at all levels. Not only might someone need financial support or advice for the sake of practical measures, but the serious knock-on effects also need to be supported, from mental health to social needs.

In 2020, the Torbay Community Helpline was initially established, a week before the very first lockdown, to provide support for the anticipated impact felt by many Bay residents – which, thankfully, an equal number of Bay residents also stepped up as volunteers to help their neighbours in any and whichever way possible. To that, we cannot, to this day, thank you enough (although that won’t stop us trying!)

Since the Helpline came into being, it has morphed and grown, from dealing with the more straight-forward requests of collecting shopping and prescription medication, to a support network for complex cases involving mental ill health, support for those without food in the home, and often a mixture of all of the above.

We work with a vast network of services across the bay, to ensure we can help no matter the issue – hence our tagline “One call – that’s all”

If you’d like to join our amazing team of volunteers, please do get in touch, as we’re always looking for people to help out. We have our call handlers, who along with our team of staff answer the phones of the helpline itself, our Befrienders, friendly people available for those who simply need a friendly voice or listening ear available as frequently as necessary, Drivers for any dropping-off of medication or shopping, and more.

Our stats are showing a rise in new referrals and calls to the Helpline over the course of 2022 are double the number of calls received in 2020. Not only that, but the Helpline also has less volunteers in comparison at present, meaning more neighbourly support is needed – and Torbay has demonstrated in the past how well it can pull together to help those in need.

If you need help or want to volunteer, the Torbay Community Helpline can be called on 01803 446022 (or there is an online form at bit.ly/torbayhelpline). The Helpline is typically open 10am-1pm & 3-6pm on weekdays, as well as 11:30am-12:30pm on Saturdays, but will be closing 12:30pm on Christmas Eve, reopening 10am-1pm on 28th-30th December, 11:30am-12:30pm New Year’s Eve, closed 1st & 2nd January, with normal hours resuming Tuesday 3rd January in the New Year.

I will be keeping everything crossed that we don’t have to use the term “crisis” as often in 2023, but we will have to see what the new year brings and be prepared to respond accordingly. Please keep an eye on your loved ones, your neighbours, your colleagues and so on, as you never know what’s going on behind closed doors and what help someone may need. And do reach out if you’re in need of support yourself – don’t suffer in silence.

Sad man at Christmas photo courtesy of Freepik.com

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