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Support groups offer befriending service

Volunteer support groups across Test Valley are offering befriending services for people self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are dozens of groups providing a range of support to hundreds of people across the borough, from picking up food and prescriptions, to running errands.

But with an increasing number of individuals struggling with the isolation lockdown brings, groups are increasing their focus on making sure that residents don’t feel alone. And with the growing demand for befriending services, all those who signed up to the national NHS volunteer scheme are being encouraged to make contact with their local support groups to see if they need any help.

Those who may benefit from a befriending phone call themselves can access any support they may need by getting in touch with their local group, too. They can also do this via the Test Valley Community Helpline, who will help them make contact with the right people.

Residents and NHS volunteers can find the support groups’ contact details using an interactive map or table at www.unityonline.org.uk/coronavirus-support-groups

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “Coronavirus poses a very serious health risk but the impact of isolation brings with it its own wellbeing challenges.

“The amazing volunteer support groups operating all across the borough continue to do a fantastic job dropping off food and prescriptions and helping with a variety of other errands, and this will of course continue going forward. But they are also looking at offering help in the form of someone to talk to. They often spend time chatting to people when taking them supplies but they want to get the message out there to others who don’t necessarily need help with practical tasks but who would benefit from hearing a friendly voice at the end of the phone.

“And with the work of the NHS volunteers starting to reduce, it would be brilliant if those volunteers could get in touch with their local support groups to see if they need any help with their befriending services. Similarly, I would encourage anyone who thinks they would benefit from a befriending phone call to get in contact either with our volunteers on the community helpline, or via their local group directly.”

The council is also working with its community services partner, Unity, to run the Test Valley Community Helpline, which puts people in contact with their local volunteer groups if they aren’t able to contact them direct. Residents can access the helpline on 0330 400 4116 or by email at UnityC-19@unityonline.org.uk.

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