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Covid 19 - Age UK Suffolk measures in place

Published on 24 March 2020 03:00 PM

Andrew Gardner, Chief Executive and Anthony Sheppard, Chair comment jointly as follows:

“We are committed to the wellbeing of older people in the county and would reassure people that we are continuing to deliver our core services. We would encourage any older person who is worried about how they are going to manage, to get in touch with us.

Information & Advice 01473 351234

Home Help Service 01473 357070

Befriending 01473 353061

Volunteering 01473 298684

Press Enquiries 01473 353071

Fundraising 01473 353071

Chinwags/ tablet courses) 01473 298683

We are encouraging people who are pledging their support, to contact their local community resources - community centres, churches, parish clerks (by email) to see if there are any community led activities being implemented. If you are concerned about older people in your community there are Suffolk Good Neighbour Schemes set up across the county who have volunteers who may be able to assist with everyday tasks.

In the longer term, we would encourage individuals to consider becoming a telephone befriender - this would involve signing up as a volunteer and going through our induction process - this is a weekly commitment which would be a 20-30 minute telephone call once a week to an older person (this is done through a matching profile). You can find out more here

At a very local level, we would encourage people to keep an eye out for their older neighbours - perhaps pop a note through their door with your phone number on, saying where you live, and offering to get them shopping, collect prescriptions, or just for a general chat over the phone.

We will be working within the Government and NHS guidelines and advice at all times: In addition we are taking the following general measures to protect older people, staff and volunteers.

  • Maintaining high levels of good hygiene remain the main way of fighting the virus - that means washing your hands thoroughly in line with NHS guidelines and using antibacterial gel regularly
  • For staff and volunteers our HR team are being informed of any planned holidays or returns from holiday, any underlying health conditions, or caring responsibilities
  • Where possible, meetings are being conducted by telephone or using digital technology rather than face to face
  • Older people are being encouraged to keep up to date with news by watching the television or listening to the radio
  • If clients have cold/flu like symptoms when arriving at any of our premises staff have permission to request that the person goes home
  • If anyone goes down with symptoms whilst in one of our buildings they will be isolated and issued with a face mask to prevent the infection spreading and asked to call 111.

The individual services outlined below are based on our Business Continuity Plan and the prevailing medical advice from Professor Chris Whitty the Chief Medical Officer for England and from Public Health England. Employment-based advice for our staff is being provided by ACAS and the government websites.

We will continue to take the advice given by the government and apply it in a practical way to our own services.


Visiting befriending has been put on hold until government advice changes. Telephone befriending calls will continue, with additional calls being made to visiting befriending clients, where possible. The service will continue with staff working from home.

Chilton Day Service

The centre will remain open but clients are being advised not to attend at present. Staff will be making regular phone calls to clients, their family and carers to ensure that they are fit and well. If there is a need to provide shopping or pick up prescriptions for example we will endeavour to do this with the staff we have.


Our Pop Up Chinwags have been postponed due to the current situation. Our staff will be making regular calls to the Chinwag Guests to ensure they are fit and well and if they need us to do anything for them then we will.

The launch of the Beccles and Southwold Pop Up Chinwags has been postponed and we have put the others on hold for the time being. Our staff will be making regular calls to the Chinwag Guests to ensure they are fit and well and if they need us to do anything for them then we will.

Fundraising & Marketing/networking events/promotion

Our team will not be attending any planned events in the foreseeable future until it is safe to resume usual practice.

Services will not be actively promoted within the community where there is to be any type of gathering until it is safe to resume usual practice.

Home Help

We have identified clients who are a priority, these being clients for whom we do shopping, food preparation or collect prescriptions. All priority clients will be guaranteed to receive food subject to staff availability, and this may mean that all office staff may be called upon to collect shopping and deliver to a client if no Home Help is available.

We will continue to run this service with staff working from home to ensure that the service can continue and we can support our most vulnerable clients in the community.

All Home Helps have received guidance on what to do in the event that one of their clients is unwell when they visit and clients have been asked to inform the Home Help office if they feel unwell.

If you are not a client but require our assistance please call us and we will assist you in whatever way we can.

Self isolation and social distancing  

  • Clients will need to inform the Home Help Service immediately if they are self-isolating.
  • Home Helps will remain 2 metres away from clients at all times which may mean being in separate rooms.
  • Our Home Helps have been instructed to practice social distancing at all times as per the latest government guidance.
  • If a Home Help attends a property where a client has a visitor/s in the home, under the government social distancing guidance, the Home Help will not be able to carry out the visit, will not enter the property at any time, and will leave immediately.

Information and Advice

The majority of our information and advice is now telephone based and because it is integrated with the Age UK National line we will continue to provide this advice. Any face to face appointments will be postponed and a telephone alternative offered where possible.


Our dedicated volunteers have been asked not to visit anyone in their own home, however, we are inviting all volunteers to take on other roles in the interim period, such as telephone befriending, to address the debilitating effects of loneliness and/or social isolation.

We will continue to monitor our charitable support and activities in accordance with the latest government guidance and news reports as they unfold on a daily basis and the above information may be subject to change going forward.

Please be assured that we have a very experienced and strong team here at Age UK Suffolk which is made up of the Board of Trustees, the Management Team and operational and frontline service staff and volunteers who operate across the charity. Together, we are continuously working to mitigate risk, whilst delivering the valuable services that are so important to our clients, their families and carers more than ever before.

In the meantime, we will continue to provide updates as necessary".

Useful websites with up to date information

Age UK advice

Suffolk Public Health

Public Health England - Guidance on social distancing 

Home but not alone - A new Suffolk focused community service has been set up to support people who want to volunteer in their communities with neigbours who are most in need.

Visit the Coffee and Friends website for ideas and suggestions of ways to support your own well-being, and that of your neighbours and your community, to help ward off loneliness and maintain social connections in a time of physical distancing.