Coronavirus Phone Service passes 1000th call

A South Gloucestershire charity has recently taken its 1000th request for help from people during the Coronavirus pandemic.  Since the beginning of April, Southern Brooks Community Partnerships has been taking calls to a helpline as well as receiving emails to a dedicated address that were both set up in response to the pandemic, from residents in need of support.

The charity has provided a range of assistance, including co-ordinating food deliveries, dropping off medicine prescriptions, making referrals to mutual aid organisations, distributing arts and crafts packs to children and young people and providing wellbeing and unemployment advice services.

Southern Brooks has been working closely with South Gloucestershire Council, including its transport department, and community organisations such as North Bristol Foodbank and Green Community Travel, to help co-ordinate the district’s response to the pandemic.

Julie Close, Chief Executive at Southern Brooks, said: “Partnership working has been at the heart of helping people stay safe and well.  We’ve worked as one team with South Gloucestershire Council, Sirona and the many voluntary and community organisations who have really risen to the challenge, particularly Green Community Transport, Age UK, Pauls Place and North Bristol Food”

Southern Brooks has recruited around 80 volunteers to assist the charity in reducing the impact of the pandemic on struggling residents.

Julie said: “In this time of international crisis, it’s been amazing and rewarding to see neighbours stepping up to help each other.  Volunteers have always been important at Southern Brooks, and we are so grateful to the 80+ people who have helped us during this time, as well as the thousands of volunteers involved in the Mutual Aid groups in South Gloucestershire.  I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone, for their time and commitment.  We hope you will continue to be involved both with Southern Brooks and in your communities”.

During the lockdown, Southern Brooks obtained funding from Quartet Community Foundation to create around 1600 art and crafts packs that were distributed to children and young people from low income families, or additional needs or poor mental health. The packs were put together by the charity’s youth workers and volunteers.

The helpline has been run by staff from Southern Brooks, along with staff from another South Gloucestershire-based charity, Paul’s Place, also helping out when they were furloughed.

The hours of the helpline were tailored to meet demand, and at the peak operated from 8am until 8pm, including weekends and bank holidays.

After the charity’s Patchway-based community cafe closed because of the lockdown, staff used food provided by FareShare to prepare food parcels on the premises to be delivered to residents.

The Coronavirus helpline for South Gloucestershire – 0333 5774666 – is currently available Mondays to Fridays between 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, people can email [email protected]

The wellbeing service that Southern Brooks operates – ‘One You South Gloucestershire’ – can be contacted by ringing 01454 868583 or emailing [email protected]. And for more information about the employment advice service the charity runs – ‘Building Better Opportunities’ – visit https://southernbrooks.org.uk/employment” https://southernbrooks.org.uk/employment

To volunteer for Southern Brooks, contact Jenny Vernon, Volunteer & Community Services Manager, on 01454 868570 or email [email protected]

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