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Thousands of vulnerable and isolated people helped in Swansea

Thousands of people are getting help from brand new and expanded services set-up by Swansea Council to support vulnerable and isolated people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Virtual call centre

The council has transformed the way it works, immediately putting in systems during the early weeks of lockdown to meet unprecedented challenges faced by residents who need help.

It has seen hundreds of workers from all areas of the council, including highways, transport, culture, sports, libraries and education take on temporary roles.

Staff posted to a dedicated Helpline, in the form of a virtual call centre, are assisting people who have received advice from the Chief Medical Officer for the NHS, or their GPs, that they need to 'shield' and remain home for 12 weeks.

These letters tell people to call on their friends and family to get food and other essentials like prescriptions, but many don't have someone to call on, so the council and its partner agencies like Swansea Council for Voluntary Services are there for them.

So far, more than 1,000 requests for help have been answered by the call centre, helping people access essentials like food and medication but also assisting with loneliness or wellbeing advice.

The council has set up four food distribution centres to help keep the food banks in Swansea stocked with donations from larger retailers and suppliers; with more than 60 businesses, organisations and charities, as well as countless individuals contributing to this much needed resource.

Last week more than 500 families received essential parcels from their local foodbanks, and since the distribution centres have been operating they have delivered a further 120 emergency food packs, and over 6,000 hot meals for people in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels, along with supplies for key workers.

The council's network of Local Area Coordinators has already been expanded with staff temporarily moved from other departments, to coordinate 'community champions' and who can keep the neighbour to neighbour support going. 

They have already responded to more 5,400 requests for support and have signed up more than 1,600 local residents who are on hand to respond to requests for help, either via the helpline or local contacts, with further support coming from Swansea Council for Voluntary Services who have signed up over 1,400 volunteers to the cause.  

As well as essential shopping, collecting prescriptions and phoning people who are alone and in need of a friendly voice, neighbourhood volunteers have gone above and beyond in many cases.

These have included taking the pet of a couple who were self-isolating to the vets, clearing overgrowth in the garden of one elderly man so he could go outdoors and helping to arrange for Swansea City stars to contact one vulnerable person to lift his spirits.

Council Leader Rob Stewart said: "Swansea is facing a challenge that many people will never have seen in their lifetime and the council is doing everything it possibly can to play its part.

"Since this crisis began we have supported thousands of people who have needed help but what these figures don't show is the many stories behind them.

"I could not be prouder to lead this council and to see the effort and willingness of all our staff to support Swansea and our communities at this time and I thank them all."

If you, or someone you know, are isolated and vulnerable in Swansea you can find out more about help on hand, or services available to you in your area, including your local councillor or area coordinator; businesses delivering essential supplies, or information on support networks, at www.swanseacouncil.gov.uk/coronahelp

These pages have already received more than 500,000 page views since the crisis began.

If you are in need of essentials, but do not have friends, family, neighbours or voluntary services to help with collecting prescriptions or accessing food, you can contact the council by email at Covid19@Swansea.gov.uk.

You will be referred you to someone who can help, or call you back, during our opening hours 9.30 to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

Those without access to email can call the helpline directly on 01792 636363.

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