Reducing Loneliness And Isolation
HELPING PLUG £30,000 GAP TO REDUCE LONELINESS AND ISOLATION
The WPH Charitable Trust has helped plug a £30,000 shortfall in income as a result of the pandemic faced by Voluntary Action Stratford upon Avon (VASA) – a charity which works to reduce loneliness and isolation in Rugby, Stratford and South Warwickshire.
The volunteers support some 4,000 people across the area and The Trust has granted £5,000 to VASA to help towards the annual running costs.
The money from WPH will be used towards VASA’s community transport scheme, which provides 80 to 90 passenger journeys every day. Among those who benefit from VASA are elderly or vulnerable people attending medical appointments, and carers who benefit from respite care in the form of memory and support groups, and also people of all ages who attend social events and activities organised by VASA and other organisations which help reduce isolation.
Kirsty Holder, Charity Manager at VASA, said that although the pandemic meant service users weren’t attending social events, there was still great demand for transport to and from medical appointments and to pick up medication for those who are shielding and other vulnerable people.
There had also been great demand among vulnerable people who had been called for their vaccinations, and the volunteers had helped distribute PPE to pharmacies across the region.
Other help included supporting the shielded with delivering food deliveries and prescriptions, including medication to chemotherapy patients – enabling them to continue vital treatment throughout the pandemic.
As soon as restrictions allow, VASA will resume its other services which include a carers’ café, two allotments, memory clubs and lunch clubs.
Kirsty said: “Over the past year we haven’t been able to operate our services in the normal way.
“As a result, we now find ourselves working with people with increased anxiety or depression, particularly with carers who are finding themselves unable to take a break.
“Instead of face-to-face interaction we make regular calls to service users including more frequent calls to those who are more vulnerable. We have been able to keep going thanks to the 30 or so more volunteers who have come on board to help manage the phone calls and near 70 new volunteers who are helping out with the driving.
“Our aim is to resume all our services as soon as possible.”
To find out more about how the WPH Charitable Trust might be able to help your organisation or individual service users, log on to our website
Liz – Volunteer driver (prescriptions and medical appointments)
Back in January 2020 when news of coronavirus started to spread, I think most of us did not imagine that lockdown was coming to the UK, let alone that we would still be here a year later. The impact on the elderly and those with underlying health conditions has been dramatic and, in some cases, devastating. Those who were asked to shield were suddenly plunged into isolation and looking desperately for a lifeline that could help them access basic requirements such as food and medication. This is where organisations such as VASA stepped forward and offered their knowledge and experience, along with their eager driving volunteers to help solve that need.
Having enjoyed driving passengers along to their medical appointments for many months, alongside 3 other voluntary roles, part time work in a busy office and a local town councillor role, at the drop of a hat it was all swept away on March 23rd 2020 and I was left feeling adrift – my life, along with most of the country, shut down overnight.
All of a sudden, all the things that made me feel good and useful were gone and I lost all sense of purpose.
Volunteering was my way of being able to give something back by helping other people, making their lives just a little bit easier by enabling them to do the things that most of us take for granted.
So, when VASA said that they were putting themselves forward to help folk by delivering prescriptions I felt like I had been thrown a lifeline. The service was a simple set up, and following an email with the relevant instructions, all I had to do was collect the prescription from the chemist and deliver it to the service user. I was thrilled to be helping out again and seeing the relief of the people I delivered to was like food for the soul.
We were following good hygiene protocols and social distancing, but it didn’t stop me saying a cheerful hello from several metres away and making sure there was nothing else they needed before I went on my way. I am always very aware that some of the people I see have not left their houses for many months, and have seen very few people, so it feels important to take the time to ensure all is well.
In the very early days of the pandemic the situation was totally new to everyone and things had to be set up from scratch, ensuring that everything was done properly, and our service users were protected. The local council were co-ordinating the process, voluntary organisations offered their services and pharmacies were brought on board. The most important thing was getting the message out to people who needed help and several people and groups really stepped up make sure that news of the help on offer was shared widely. Things started slowly, but very quickly became invaluable to people who were at risk, or too afraid to leave their homes.
For me it was easy: the process was simple, the roads were empty, and the service users were happy to see me. It was a win-win all round, and I’m proud to be a part of a vital service that is still going strong a year in, but with a hopeful end in sight.
Caroline – volunteer who answered the call up to offer vaccine transport.
I’m absolutely loving my VASA runs.
The elderly passengers are SO grateful for their lifts and their vaccinations.
It’s a joy to behold!
The vaccination centres are amazing and so impressively well run.
Makes you proud to be part of this massive volunteer army that is bringing a bit of light at the end of the massively long tunnel.
Mrs C – Vaccine transport and medical journey service users
I just want to say thank you so much for your service.
My husband had a stroke about 18 months ago which rendered him with mobility, sight and slight brain damage.
At the time of his rehab most services were unavailable due to the pandemic, friends that were available to assist me were no longer available meaning even the shortest medical appointment was a challenge. I tried local taxis but the stress of if they would turn up, what hygienic standards they operated under made it impossible. I tried local transport, but bus stops were just too far to entry point at hospital and doctor’s surgery.
The service you offer is quite amazing; I have only used the service twice, once to Machen eye unit and today to the vaccination centre.
I only received a text yesterday morning at 11:00 and by 16:00 you were able to confirm that we had a driver; normally I would be worried but the operative I spoke with advised me not to worry it would definitely happen. If only commercial business could work in this way.
Our driver today was a lovely gentleman named Colin, it helped so much that he had visited the site before and put me at ease. Lovely gentleman.
I have worked in communication and customer service all my working life; commercial organisations could learn a great deal from you particularly just good old politeness and courtesy.
My kind thanks to you all
Mr B – Service User Call taken by volunteer and passed to Ali
“Just to let you know that Mr B has just phoned me to thank and praise the service. He couldn’t be more pleased with the lady who collected him and delivered him back home. He said he felt quite humbled by the experience.”