As the coronavirus virus affects all walks of life local charity Ilkley Good Neighbours has transformed itself into a new telephone and online service in order to continue helping vulnerable and older individuals in the community.
Three of its important assistance schemes - Shop Assist, Befriending and Moving On - have adopted a new policy which means that despite the challenges of social isolation, the charity can operate and still offer its key services in a different but effective form.
“Although the virus has clearly had a major impact we’ve quickly managed to re-invent ourselves in the space of a week so we can continue to provide help to individuals in the area," said the charity’s chairman Penny Coulthard.
“With the help of technology and many new volunteers – for which we’re extremely grateful - we are I’m pleased to say managing to cope with the growing number of people who at this time of crisis need our services.
“In terms of Shop Assist, this has changed from us taking clients to supermarkets to simply noting down their shopping list over the phone, getting the shopping from the supermarket in a hygienic way, and then dropping the goods off at the doorstep with a secure payment system.
“Some of our volunteers themselves have unfortunately fallen ill and we were concerned that would leave us short-staffed," said Penny. “Added to that was the fact that we lost half our volunteers when people over 70 were told to self-isolate. However I’m pleased to say that the Ilkley response has been tremendous. We’ve recently managed to match over twenty clients with new volunteers – that’s doubled the capacity be had before – and hopefully that will continue."
One Shop Assist client in current lockdown emailed to tell the charity: “Many thanks for the groceries that have just been delivered. Such a lifeline.”
Another popular scheme - Befriending - has been transformed from face to face contact to supportive telephone conversations, keeping people in touch and helping them feel less isolated.
With the Moving On social group, which used to meet every Thursday at the Clarke Foley centre, the members have all been contacted to make sure they are well and that they will continue to stay in touch with one another.
One member said: “Moving On has made such a tremendous difference to my life. I joined the group after my husband died, and can now have long telephone chats with my Moving On friends whilst stuck at home.”
The charity has been working in collaboration with Ilkley Corona Response, on volunteering and providing a central referral number which people can contact.
“The Ilkley Corona Response Team, and Community Action in particular, have been invaluable in helping establish an efficient and joined up process which is enabling us to work closely together and help the people of Ilkley at this difficult time,” said Penny.
If anyone needs help at this difficult time, for example with shopping or someone to chat to, run errands etc, they can call 07375 803693 and leave a message or via this online form https://bit.ly/ilkleycorona