Centre is support hub for community
Alsager Community Support Centre has become the town's main hub of support for the elderly and the vulnerable as the pandemic continues.
Helping with deliveries of shopping, prescriptions and running a befriending service are its priorities.
With the help of the Alsager Coronavirus Support group and following a town-wide appeal on social media, so far 105 people have volunteered to be involved, with 33 currently being used. In the last two weeks, volunteers have supported 137 residents who registered as requiring help.
Centre manager Liz Pinkney said reassuring people that the service was organised properly was of utmost importance. She said the emphasis was on correct safeguarding and GDPR procedures - keeping vulnerable people safe and guarding people's personal information.
Alsager Community Support Centre is located next to Alsager Community Church on Lawton Road but is now closed for face-to-face enquiries. For help, people can call 01270 876605/873549 or visit alsagercommunitysupport.org.uk The helpline is manned by volunteers from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm at weekends.
From the first day of the call centre operating Mrs Pinkney said the phone lines had been “extremely busy”, with over 200 calls so far.
The centre has been serving the town for five years and was in a good position to start offering help when it was first needed during the pandemic, as Mrs Pinkney explained: “We've got established procedures in place, which have enabled us to expand on what we do and we've learnt very fast how to do things online.”
Of how it is now helping people in need she said: “There are quite a large number of elderly people who are isolated therefore we are making sure they are safe and calling them regularly.”
A special system for delivering prescriptions has been put in place. She explained: “One of the volunteers is a semi-retired registered nurse who picks up prescriptions daily to deliver them.”
Forty-five urgent prescriptions have been delivered by volunteers in Alsager in the last two weeks.
Mrs Pinkney added: “Our team has been working flat out. The volunteers are working really hard.
“People who need deliveries and other support should come through us, we have plenty of volunteers who have registered and we are always in touch with them.”
She said: “If a friend or relative can help, that is the best thing in the first instance.
“As far as paying for shopping is concerned, a lot of older people want to pay for their shopping with cash and we are offering guidance about that.”
The centre's befriending scheme is important and volunteers have been allocated to keep in contact with people, even if someone just wants a chat over the phone.
“We don't want anyone feeling like they are on their own,” Mrs Pinkney added.
The website includes a daily update of information on which shops and take-aways in Alsager are open. Mrs Pinkney said: “We've wanted a website for five years. When this happened, our technical support set up one within an hour!”
Financial problems are likely to increase as the impact of the pandemic and lockdown are felt. A former Citizens' Advice worker is volunteering their services to help people who have money worries.
Mrs Pinkney said the bank of registered volunteers will be asked what skills they have to help situations as they arise, from caring skills to catering skills that could be required in an emergency. For instance it could be that hospitals need extra caterers to prepare more food.
She praised Alsager people for their support: “It's been a fantastic response from the community. There's a lot of goodwill already. There has always been great community support in Alsager from helping people to organising community events.”