Volunteers step forward to offer help to hard-pressed carers

Emily Lezzeri

Ottery Help Scheme's Emily Lezzeri - Credit: Ottery Help Scheme

An army of volunteers has stepped forward in Ottery to offer their support to unpaid carers who are battling through lockdown.

Ottery Help Scheme, the town’s long-established community charity, has seen a surge of interest from residents keen to play their part in helping others in a time of crisis.

Chief officer Emily Lezzeri said: “The demands of lockdown on carers has been tremendous. They do great work but it goes unnoticed.

“Some don’t find it easy to ask for help. A wife might not identify as a carer and so might not draw on the support that she is entitled to have. It is a very delicate area.”

Ottery Help Scheme has been taking part in a pilot project overseen by Devon Carers and subsidised by Devon County Council in which befriending volunteers provide respite for carers, many of whom are looking after partners and have little or no time to take a break or leave the home – even for a few hours.

But Emily explained: “All of that support work stopped because of lockdown but we will be going back to it when we can. We have kept in contact with carers via the phone during lockdown but we want to reach out to more people and we want them to know we care about them and want to support them.

“And we have had an influx of inquiries from people wanting to help out with this project. In fact, at the moment we have a lot more volunteers who have come forward.”

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She added: “We are ready to get out and support carers but we need them to come forward and let us know that they would like our help.”

If you are a carer in the Ottery area and would like to receive the support of a volunteer befriender to give you some respite, you can contact Emily and the team at the Ottery Help Scheme on this number: 01404 813041. The line is manned from Monday to Friday, 8.30pm to 4pm. Or you can email info@otteryhelpscheme.org.uk

Ottery Help Scheme has been running for almost 30 years. It has around 800 clients and 130 volunteers tackling a range of different community initiatives.

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