A PIONEERING hotline is on the verge of being set up to help struggling elderly residents in Sidmouth on nearly any subject matter.

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Ambitious proposals have been revealed for a ‘111-style’ service - specifically for the Sid Valley - that would offer vulnerable older people in distress assistance on a huge scale.

This could range from household issues like leaky taps and broken fences to serious healthcare matters or even car insurance.

Organisers want to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ hub manned by volunteers that will act as a central point of contact to co-ordinate a multitude of existing groups.

They feel Sidmouth has a depth of helpful organisations and quality services that can make the idea a reality - and say it could spread nationwide.

It is hoped as many voluntary services and charities in the valley will join the NHS in backing the non-profit bid and offer their expertise.

A venue for the hub is currently being considered.

The prospect has been thought up by chamber of commerce chairman Steven Kendall-Torry and Tina Teague, a commissioning lead for the Devon clinical commissioning group who lives in Sidmouth.

“Most people who are vulnerable don’t know what services are available – and can be left wondering how to make ends meet,” said Steven.

“A person whose husband has just died might realise they can’t do something as simple as changing a light bulb.

“The hub would be a one-stop-shop point of contact that identify areas or services that can help. We’ve got all these individual voluntary services and charities doing a sterling job.

“We want to tell people ‘you’re not on your own because everybody has got an eye out for you’.

“It would be a huge step. Sidmouth is where the whole of the country will be in 20 years’ time in terms of the ageing demographic.

“There are a lot of details to be worked out, but if we can get this up and running, iron out the problems and make it a workable proposition – rolling it out to other communities would be straightforward.”

“It’s not money we will need, but enthusiasm and support.”

A public meeting is being planned for March 11 where various key groups will be invited to share ideas.

Tina said the scheme would have benefits for health and social care.

She added: “Sidmouth has a highly elderly population, but it’s also active.

“Lots of people live on their own. It’s the sort of community that will benefit.”

● Anybody interested in being involved can contact Steven on 01395 577363.

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