Sidmouth charity steps up to help community after Covid-19 outbreak

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 April 2020

Deirdre Hounsom,Keith Gillanders,Peter McGanley and Di Fuller of Sid Valley Help. Ref shs 02 19TI 8116. Picture: Terry Ife

Deirdre Hounsom,Keith Gillanders,Peter McGanley and Di Fuller of Sid Valley Help. Ref shs 02 19TI 8116. Picture: Terry Ife


Volunteers offering support, guidance and an ear to listen are just some of things that Sid Valley HELP is doing to help the town cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The charity’s workers and volunteers have been working extremely hard to set up a variety of new initiatives, with support from Sidmouth Town Council, already dealing with more than 100 requests for help.

The charity already provides a website giving information on all local health and care support services in the area, and, looks at where there are gaps in service – including tackling loneliness.

Di Fuller, chair of the Sid Valley HELP trustees, said since the week beginning March 9, they had been working hard to help the town cope in the wake of the pandemic outbreak.

This included working with the Sidmouth Town Council to write a leaflet that delivered to all households in the Sid Valley.

They also set up a system for recruiting volunteers to help with shopping, medicine collection, dog walking and telephone befriending.

Mrs Fuller said they had also been liaising with other charities and referring agencies to identify gaps in support and referral priorities and had set up a seven-day-a-week phone line for people to call for help.

She added they had been providing guidance to volunteers, ID cards for supporting checks at pharmacies and supermarkets and delivering letters from the town council to pharmacies and supermarkets to validate their ID system.

As well as this, the charity had also printed 500 booklets on all available phone delivery services in the Sid Valley and published it online and on the town council website.

So far, it has recruited 72 volunteers for active community support and 18 telephone befrienders and has helped with 112 requests for help.

Mrs Fuller said: “These are unprecedented times that we live in, but the spirit of community around Sidmouth is unshakeable.

“The response to our first call for volunteers was immediate and there is steady intake of new ones each day.

“However challenging a request is, there is someone who is willing to do it.

“I am very proud of what Sid Valley Help has achieved in under three weeks, but it is down to the volunteers who are out in the town doing the actual supporting.”

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