Covid-19 has impacted a lot of us in a variety of different ways including emotionally and physically. The impacts of the pandemic and lockdown has left a great deal of people socially isolated. The increase in mental health related cases has risen with social isolation being a factor. This trend isn’t exclusive to just the UK but has also been reported in other parts of the world and can be seen in various pieces of research carried out by mental health charities and organisations.
Here at The Old Courts, when we closed and accepted furlough for the majority of the staff, myself included a number of us took on a volunteer role. Mine was the team leader of the community welfare calls, this involved managing a team of volunteers from across the borough who were tasked with making phone calls and connecting with the lonely, vulnerable, and socially isolated people from the area. This programme was set up as we worked alongside the council who were seeing a rise in mental health referrals due to the feeling of loneliness of the pandemic.
My role also involved screening referrals as they came from the local council and finding them a suitable volunteer, make sure all the calls were documented, handle any safeguarding concerns that may arise and help the volunteers through the process. The role was very rewarding yet challenging at times as it was a fast-paced programme at the start and it was completely new to me so I had to adapt quickly and think on my feet as well as plan ahead as much as possible. The programme has carried on post lockdown and is something that we still continue to do today as the impacts of the pandemic is still evident and some people feel lonely and isolated at other times of the year, the pandemic simply highlighted the issue and brought it to the forefront of all our minds.
Since we introduced the welfare check-in call scheme, as a team we made 2139 welfare calls and currently we have a team of 16 volunteers making 32 calls between them on a weekly basis illustrating that there is still a need for such schemes and programmes. Due to the success of this programme, Wigan Council have proposed opening it up in an attempt to make it more accessible to others in the Borough.
Due to the planned expansion of the programme, we are currently recruiting for more volunteers to take part in the welfare call programme. If you think this is something you would be interested in or would like some more information about the programme, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than happy to help.