Surrey’s coronavirus community helpline is receiving 250 calls a day from people needing support or volunteering to help others.
Call handlers equipped to work remotely are making sure that vulnerable people who need support are matched with groups or services which can help.
They are working closely with colleagues in Surrey’s district and boroughs councils to make sure that people who can’t rely on family or friends get support if they need it – including over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
Surrey’s councils are plugged into a network of voluntary and community groups all contributing to a county-wide effort to help people who are struggling due to the coronavirus outbreak, whether it be assistance with food deliveries, prescriptions or dealing with isolation.
Hubs around the county including Guildford’s Spectrum Centre are distributing food or providing other services. More information about the Spectrum Centre operation to deliver food parcels to those who are shielding from coronavirus due to medical conditions, and can’t arrange support through family or friends, can be found here.
Demand for the community helpline has risen steadily since it was launched on Thursday March 19th. It’s now receiving around 250 calls per day on average – mainly from people requesting support with tasks like food shopping and prescription collection. Overall, it’s already dealt with more than 2,500 calls and more than 160 requests for help via the online form.
A couple in their 90s who are shielding from coronavirus rang the helpline because they were running out of food and it was becoming an urgent situation. The husband is blind while his wife has dementia. The helpline, working in partnership with the district council, the county council’s transport team and the Spectrum Centre, 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.
The helpline is also getting calls from people willing to volunteer to help others and is signposting them to voluntary groups in their local area.
Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, 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 service will be operating over the Easter bank holiday weekend on Good Friday (10th April) from 10am to 4pm, on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm and on Easter Monday from 10am to 4pm. 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.