Some 2714 people in Thanet categorised as ‘shielded’ are currently receiving food and medicine parcels from the government during the coronavirus pandemic – with that figure rising daily as more register for help.
The government is working with a partnership of the groceries industry, local government, resilience and emergency partners, and voluntary groups, to ensure that essential items are delivered to those who need it.
People in the shielded group are at a higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus due to existing health issues.
But work is also taking place through Thanet council and local charities and volunteer organisations to help those who are not ‘shielded’ but are still classed as vulnerable – such as the over 70s, people with varying medical conditions or those self-isolating with no support network.
TDC is working with groups including Global Generation Church, Salvation Army, Age UK, Our Kitchen, parish and town councils such as Ramsgate and Westgate, NHS volunteers and Connect Well East Kent to make sure aid reaches as many residents in need as possible.
Deputy council leader Helen Whitehead said: “So we can provide support as quickly as possible we have used all our networks.
“We have a really good voluntary sector in Thanet and everybody has stepped up. We are very lucky in comparison with other places because we already have an existing network.”
This work is not being funded by central government and Thanet council has spent some £83,000 on the project.
A special helpline for people who need support – 01843 577330 – received some 730 calls in its first 13 days – equating to around 70 a day. That number is expected to keep growing.
Cllr Whitehead said: “If you phone the number people are able to signpost to the group best able to help. If you are struggling because you do not have a support network or you have mobility issues but you are not in the shielded group we can offer support from various organisations, even if you just feel isolated.”
Head of Safer Neighbourhoods, Penny Button, says the work is 100% carried out by the voluntary sector.
She said: “Thanet council has put in place the supporting mechanisms and is using the existing resources, such as NHS volunteers doing prescription runs, and now we are looking at how to support those networks in term of finance.”
Volunteers are also needed, whether it is for shopping runs or just to be a friendly voice on the phone. Our officer Adam Littlefield is working with community groups and building up the networks.
“If you don’t feel able to volunteer then check on those people that you know are vulnerable and signpost them to our phoneline, if the need is urgent, or to our online form.
“Thanet has always been an extraordinary community and we are exceptionally good at looking after each other.
“Although this is an exceptionally difficult and upsetting situation to have to live through I think Thanet people are doing amazing things.”
To talk to someone about yours, or a neighbour’s, needs call 01843 577330 (coronavirus help only) open from 9am to 5pm, daily. To find the online form and more details, or to sign up as a volunteer, go to https://www.thanet.gov.uk/info-pages/community-advice-and-support/
General enquiries must still be directed to the main switchboard number: 01843 577 000.
Also check the Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet Page as volunteer delivery drivers are making food drops in areas that they deem to have less access to supplies than others.
Drops have been made in Newington/Whitehall and plans are underway to include Dane Valley in that scheme. Other isle areas are also covered and the food parcels are free.
If you think you should be in the government shielded group but have not been contacted you can visit gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to register for the support that you need.