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Residents flock to helpline number supporting vulnerable during coronavirus crisis

By Gurdip Thandi | Walsall | Coronavirus | Published:

Dozens of worried Walsall residents called up a dedicated hotline immediately after it was set up to support vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.

The Making Connections Walsall number went live on Monday, enabling people in need to get in touch with community groups and get the help they need.

Councillor Garry Perry, Walsall Council portfolio holder for community, leisure and culture, said more than 80 people contacted them on the first day it was active and he expects that to keep on growing in the coming days and weeks.

He also said the community response to support people during the worrying times continues to be “overwhelming”.

Any Walsall resident is able to call or email the Making Connections team on matters such as help with shopping, picking up prescriptions, food parcels, advice on financial help or reassurance and befriending calls.

These requests are then passed on to one of the four local hubs covering that an individual’s area who will facilitate the help; Bloxwich Community Partnership, Old Hall People Partnership, Manor Farm Community Association and Accord Age Matters.

Councillor Perry said: “The Making Connections number went live on Monday and we are trying to coordinate direct activities through there for those who are generally vulnerable.

“They had 85 calls on day one. It’s early days and it will get better and better as we work through the early days of this crisis as well.

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“Some of those calls were dealt with, some were from people contacting us for information on what was out there.

“The hubs are collecting food and non-perishables such as nappies.

“There’s a whole lot of things happening in a number of areas which are not only heartening but proves there is a link to our communities.

“When their backs are against the wall, they are coming out and doing the right thing.”

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He added council staff in facilities such as leisure centres and libraries, which have been closed indefinitely, were carrying out different roles and duties to help.

And Councillor Perry said they also continue to get a huge response from groups and individuals, after a plea was made through One Walsall for volunteers to come forward.

He said: “I’ve got friends who live in Greenwich and we’ve been chatting throughout the last week and they cannot believe how we’ve responded compared to parts of London where they live. They are saying it is not the same.

“We are really impressed. What we are trying to do is match volunteers to work.

“During the lock-down, we are going to be limited in what we can do.

“So it may only be limited to collecting items, leaving them on doorsteps, phoning people to make sure they are ok rather than the face to face stuff which we are limiting.

“We are asking people to be patient as we match people to work. As this situation escalates we may need additional support.”

People can contact the Making Connections number on 0121 380 6690 or email COVID-19communityhelp@walsall.gov.uk for help.

Gurdip Thandi

By Gurdip Thandi
@Gurdo

Local Democracy Reporter covering Walsall.

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