Chilmark charity complete hundreds of welfare checks for Wiltshire Council

Chilmark charity complete hundreds of welfare checks for Wiltshire Council

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 6:00am 22nd May 2020. (Updated at 11:30am 1st June 2020)

4 minute read

Serve On is co-ordinating volunteers to work around the county, from their temporary base at Salisbury's Five Rivers Leisure Centre.

The charity's carried out more than 2,500 visits so far and say they'll 'carry on until Wiltshire Council no longer needs them'.

The visits are to check on vulnerable people, identified by the local authority, to make sure they're OK during the Covid-19 outbreak and to signpost them to other support services if they're in need of additional help.

More than 50 volunteers are working with Serve On at the moment, backed up by other charities including Team Rubicon, the British Red Cross, SARAID, SPEAR and colleagues from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue and Wiltshire Council.

Craig Elsdon, Serve On's Operation Director says it's been a brilliant project to be a part of, on their own doorstep: 

"To be able to actually get into our own community, because we've done a lot of stuff around flooding where we've gone to Keswick and Yorkshire - but to be able to help our own community, that's what it's all about. It's been really good and the guys have been really energised and fired up to get in there and do this."

Some of the volunteers behind the service have been talking about their experiences too: 

Between them, the teams have also delivered more than 2 million items of PPE to frontline services during the lockdown period.

The charities say social distancing has been a challenge, to hold briefings for the on-site team, but now they've got the hang of it, it's working well.

The team's also been holding their planning meetings via Zoom to keep everyone up to date with their taskings.

Craig Elsdon from Serve On says the response they get from the people they're visiting makes it all worthwhile: 

"People at first are a little bit suspicious, rightly so. But once you explain that you're working on behalf of the Council, you're volunteers and we're coming to check that you're OK, people have been fantastic. They've been really warm, we've had people offering Sunday lunch, teas and coffees - obviously we can't (accept) because of social distancing, but it's been brilliant and generally the reception from the public's been fantastic."

WILTSHIRE COUNCIL RESPONSE

The authority say they're really grateful for the help they're getting from the charities.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Public Protection said: 

"Our aim is work closely with existing volunteer and community groups to ensure that wherever possible needs are met within communities, but that higher level needs and risks are met in a safe and effective way.

"Serve On has been co-ordinating the activity of a number of different organisations visiting the homes of residents across Wiltshire that the Wellbeing Hub has not been able to establish contact with despite multiple phone calls, emails and letters.

"A key benefit of the support provided by both Serve On and Team Rubicon is the ability of their DBS checked volunteers, equipped with PPE, to provide safe social contact for residents who would otherwise be without this and emotionally vulnerable due to loneliness.

"The volunteers have time to chat to residents about issues beyond the specific tasks, thus alleviating some of the impact of isolation and enabling them to identify any further additional support needed."

Serve On say they'll continue with the welfare checks for the foreseeable future, but they are struggling with funding during the current crisis.

Their planned and regular fundraising activities have had to stop for the time being, but donations can still be sent in to them through the Serve On website.

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