Adapting our services
Published on 10 April 2020 01:38 PM
Age UK Solihull has transformed its services to ensure that vulnerable people in Solihull are taken care of in these unprecedented and challenging times. Over the past three weeks, our Director of Services, Lucy Garratt, has completely revised the way the charity operates to meet the needs of self-isolating older people.
As soon as people over 70 were asked to stay at home, calls came in from anxious residents worried about finding food and supplies. The Age UK Solihull team saw the need and immediately set up an emergency food bank in their office. With a core team of staff, local volunteers and companies, we are now delivering parcels of food, toiletries and basic supplies to around 500 people aged over 70 each week – people who would otherwise have struggled to feed themselves. This is in addition to our advice and support services which are now being run by the dedicated staff from their homes via telephone and email, with urgent calls dealt with at weekends.
Chantelle Bogira from National Grid has co-ordinated the company’s support for our food bank and said “Lucy and the rest of the team have been so compassionate and caring about our local community and have responded to this challenging crisis with great spirit and determination.”
We have been recognised for our “brilliant work” in a letter to CEO, Anne Hastings, from Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Civil Society, Baroness Barran who wrote, “I’d like to thank Anne and her staff for adapting their service to seven days a week and to using phones rather than face-to-face interactions. It’s vital work and it is hugely valued.”
We have had fantastic support with collecting and delivering food bank supplies from hundreds of local individuals and local organisations, including Solihull Self-Isolation Support Group, Edwardian FC (Rugby Union), Olton Cricket Club, Waitrose, Morrisons, Solihull Council, the Encore Café, Birmingham Business Park, Helping Hands Food Bank, Solihull Fire Service and National Grid.
Volunteer Coordinator, Catherine Gulati, says, “Our wonderful regular volunteers are still supporting us despite the challenges we’re all facing – they’re taking on new tasks like shopping and collecting prescriptions, while those who are self-isolating are now Telephone Befrienders. Then we’ve had an amazing response from the public with hundreds of people offering to join us as volunteers and we’re now matching them up with new roles.”
Meanwhile, our Home Support Workers are supporting the most vulnerable with essential tasks in their own homes.
The team has received many grateful comments from residents: One says, “I was very worried about going out the weekend looking for food but the “Angels from Age UK Solihull” came to my rescue and sorted me out. Thank so much to all your team for your kindness and help." Another adds, “Today we received 2 bags of shopping which almost reduced me to tears. We are so very grateful.”
Anne Hastings CEO says, “We’re seeing the benefit of being a local charity able to adapt to change, working with other organisations in the community. Rather than closing services, we’re doing more - staff are putting in extra hours and changing roles day by day, ensuring the most vulnerable people are taken care of. Setting up a food bank so quickly is an amazing achievement. We’re now closely linked with services from Helping Hands whose foodbank is for under 70s and with Solihull Council.
“Meanwhile we’ve had to cancel fundraising events and close our shops, just when the needs and the costs are increasing. We’re grateful to local people who have helped out with a great response to our Coronavirus Fundraising Appeal, particularly with donations from National Grid, JLR and MKHealthHub. The needs of local people are set to continue though, so more donations are vital and can be made on our fundraising page.”
Donations of food (particularly tins, packets and jars) and other household supplies can be brought to the entrance lobby on the Lower Ground Floor of The Core, Central Library Building, Homer Road, Solihull B91 3RG.
Older Solihull residents needing support from Age UK Solihull can call 0121 704 7840.
Please join Age UK Solihull in recognising the community spirit Solihull has demonstrated, by Clapping for our Community every Friday at 7.00pm.