Somerset’s Coronavirus Helpline has received more than 10,000 calls since its launch in April, signposting residents to a huge range of vital support such as emergency food parcels, prescription collections and hospital transport.
Set up by Somerset’s local councils working together with partner organisations such as Mindline, Citizens Advice Bureau and the Community Council for Somerset (CCS) Village Agents, the Coronavirus Helpline has provided a single point of contact for anyone in need of Covid-19 related support over the past eight months and counting.
The Helpline number is 0300 790 6275, and is available seven days a week, from 8am to 6pm including Bank Holidays, offering a range of support from help accessing food and medicines, to emotional and financial support, as well as employment, skills and business advice.
While Somerset’s local authorities recognise it is not a cause for celebration that so many people require help as a result of the pandemic, the fact the Coronavirus Helpline has surpassed 10,000 calls highlights its success in connecting residents with the support that they need.
The Coronavirus Helpline was implemented quickly following the announcement of the first nationwide Lockdown in March this year.
The first discussions between the local councils on the principle of a single helpline number took place on March 23, and the Coronavirus Helpline went live on April 6, receiving 72 calls on the first day.
Nearly everyone who makes up the Coronavirus Helpline team has been working from home throughout the course of the pandemic.
The contact centre advisors have been required to maintain a firm grasp on the latest information and changing guidance.
When a resident calls the Coronavirus Helpline, they are given seven options to choose from. These include personal care and support including food and prescriptions delivery, transport, employment and skills, housing, waste and financial support, emotional support, help for providers such as care homes, and all other enquiries.
The helpline has evolved and adapted to feedback over time to include additional help. For example, employment support was not an option when the helpline first started but has been added to meet the changing needs of the community during the pandemic.