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Charity for lonely & isolated inundated with calls

A CHARITY in Southampton that helps the city’s isolated and lonely has been inundated and overwhelmed with calls for assistance from those self-isolating at home during the current COVID-19 crisis..

Communicare says its recent pleas for volunteers to help with the service users it already has, who are isolated at home, have instead generated a huge demand from others in need.

Communicare’s Manager, Annie Clewlow says: “Our teams are being overwhelmed from people seeking assistance. Those asking for help need to be aware that we have been inundated with requests and as we’re working remotely, we are struggling to keep abreast of the demand.

“For this reason, we would ask everyone to please bear with us and only get in touch if they have no other alternative. Currently, it is unlikely that we will be able to help individuals who have been in touch with us recently without at least 48 hours’ notice and then only if we have a suitable volunteer available.

“Now it’s even more important than ever that we get more volunteers and fast. In order to do this, we would like to link with organisations where they can lend us staff or volunteers already DBS checked.

“This will speed up the process of us actually getting people out and about making essential visits, at a safe social distance, to some of the city’s elderly and vulnerable, who desperately need our support. We provided a vital lifeline to those in need before the current situation and now our service is more relevant and essential than ever. Hence the increase in requests we’re now getting.

“We’re facing numerous challenges at the moment. Many of our volunteers are in vulnerable situations themselves being aged either 70 plus, or they have an underlying health condition, so they rightly need to be in self-isolation now, and for the next 12 weeks, as per the Government’s and health experts’ recommendations.

“We do not want any of them to leave home or to feel they should, but this means our already stretched team is being put under even more strain as we try to maintain contact with and provide any essential assistance needed to our service users, who are also mainly elderly and have mental and physical wellbeing issues too.”

Communicare is a friendly, neighbourhood charity that wants to eradicate loneliness and isolation in Southampton with the assistance of its band of Communiteers, who volunteer to give their time freely.

Its Good Neighbours’ Network normally supports nearly 400 individuals/families annually, covering more than 2,300 tasks including one-to-one befriending, transport to activities, such as the regular lunch clubs and tea parties it hosts and shopping for, or with, those it helps. All the assistance offered is free to users, although beneficiaries are invited to make a donation if they are able, and Communiteers are offered expenses.

“Obviously we’re no longer running social gatherings, but all those we help still need support and we’re expecting demand for our services to increase even more dramatically than they already have during the coming weeks. 

“Any organisation that has multiple staff or volunteers who are DBS checked and unable to work, we’d love to hear from you, so we can work in partnership. Those who are DBS checked will be able to help our service users more quickly. You can email us via volunteer@communicareinsouthampton.org.uk to find out more.”

Please note the Communicare offices are now closed but staff are available via email and social media.

To find out more about volunteering, please call 023 8021 6023, visit www.communicareinsouthampton.org.uk or follow the charity on Twitter at @Communicare_SO or log on to www.facebook.com/CommunicareInSouthampton.

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