Letchworth community response team to close helpline amid ‘significant’ drop in demand

The Community Response Team has fielded over 1,000 calls during lockdown. Picture: LHF

The Community Response Team has fielded over 1,000 calls during lockdown. Picture: LHF - Credit: Archant

Letchworth’s emergency coronavirus helpline set up to support residents through lockdown will close today, the Heritage Foundation has confirmed.

A Community Response Team set up by the foundation at the end of March launched an emergency response helpline to assist residents who were shielding and isolating from COVID-19.

A team of volunteers arranged shopping and medicine deliveries, and worked to reduce loneliness by referring people to local befriending services.

However, with calls to the helpline declining over the past four weeks, the programme is winding down – and the foundation will now work with partners to see how it can continue to support the needs of the community in other ways.

The introduction of social bubbles and more people being able to leave their homes has led to a “significant drop in the number of calls”. The CRT will now focus on providing a prescription service and a weekly shopping service to those still shielding, and those who are particularly isolated.

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From March to the end of June the emergency response team fielded 1,029 calls, responded to 92 emails, delivered 598 food shopping deliveries and 134 prescriptions – with some of calls coming from folk hundreds of miles away who were concerned for loved ones living alone in Letchworth.

Alastair Stewart, head of grants, partnerships and community services at the foundation, said: “So many vulnerable people have been supported through the collaboration of local organisations with charities and individuals rallying together.

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“Our Emergency Response Team is one part of a town-wide network providing much needed support across the community. Thank you again to all who volunteered and continue to volunteer their time answering phones and emails, preparing and delivering food and prescriptions.

“Your efforts are making a huge difference to so many people’s lives every day in Letchworth.”

The Heritage Foundation is now working with its partners to review the CRT model and how it can meet the emerging needs of the community.

This will result in a new strategy which will directly respond to the needs of different groups in Letchworth.

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