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Good neighbours still needed as shielding continues until June

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SOMERSET’S caring communities are urged to keep up the good work and ‘be good neighbours’ for residents continuing to shield as some coronavirus restrictions start to ease.

Annie Maw, Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset.

Since the start of the UK lockdown, volunteers and good neighbours have banded together with the NHS, local authorities and voluntary and charity organisations to support the most vulnerable in the county – and their help is still needed.

People who are shielding, because of their age or an underlying health condition, have received further Government advice they need to continue to stay at home and avoid all non-essential face-to-face contact until at least 30 June as they are the most vulnerable to Coronavirus.

They should continue to seek help in getting shopping, prescriptions, dog-walking and other essentials and make sure they keep in contact with those who have provided the support so far.

Annie Maw, Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset is in one of the groups asked to continue shielding. She said: “The thing which unites us is that we have been advised to be especially careful to avoid being exposed to the virus because it might make us extremely unwell.  For some of us, to contract Covid-19 might put our life in danger.

“I am learning to re-work my life and to find fulfilment in different ways and, surprisingly, this has been a great opportunity to ‘find’ people who I have not known about until now and to support and thank them in a way which would not have formerly been possible.

I have also found that there is, at the end of the telephone or email, a great deal of kindness and compassion.  None of us are on our own.  We have all that we need here in our marvellous county and we will survive this if we stick together.”

Somerset has been overwhelmed by the offers of help that poured in when lockdown started in March. Community groups have sprung into action, council staff have been redeployed to strengthen the response, and Community and Village Agents have worked round the clock to provide support.

More than 1,300 people signed up with Spark Somerset as Corona Helper Volunteers, with Spark providing help and advice to community groups and volunteers

People can still sign up as Corona Helpers – log on to www.corona-helpers.co.uk to register as a volunteer. Those who have signed up to NHS Responders are encouraged to contact Spark Somerset on 01460 202970 or email support@sparksomerset.org.uk to be linked into opportunities locally.

Spark Somerset has also put together a new ‘Volunteer pack’ for COVID-19 support groups. This pack captures lots of useful information and guidance and covers a range of topics from recruiting and supporting volunteers, safeguarding and data protection plus lots of practical tips on volunteering. It’s available to download at https://www.sparksomerset.org.uk/covid-19.

If you – or anyone in your community needs help – a single phone number is available for Coronavirus related support provided by all five local authorities.

The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, makes it easier for people to access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, during the current crisis. Lines are open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm.

For more information about local authorities’ response to Coronavirus, please check out your District Council web pages or Somerset County Council on www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus

For information on how to stay Healthy Happy and Safe during this time, there is lots of information and resources available at: www.healthysomerset.co.uk/covid-19

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