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A support line that helped thousands of people during the pandemic is set to continue

A support line that has helped vulnerable and elderly people across Lancaster during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can continue to develop and help those in need with support from a £10,000 investment from Bay Medical Group.

Bay Volunteers (formally Lancaster District Support Line) is an initiative led by Hope Church in Lancaster and the investment will be used towards funding a member of staff to co-ordinate the hub and technical systems to support it.  

Hope Church along with Lancaster Integrated Care Community (ICC), Bay Integrated Care Community (ICC), Lancaster City Council and Lancaster District Community and Voluntary Solutions (CVS) decided to continue with the initiative after identifying that there is still a need in the community to support people who are lonely and help people who are vulnerable with everyday tasks.  

The support line was set up at the start of the pandemic to help people shielding and self-isolating. Hope Church’s volunteers would collect shopping, prescriptions and parcels and make befriending calls to those most vulnerable and lonely.  

Jamie Haxby, Assistant Pastor for Hope Church, said: “Having seen so clearly the need to tackle loneliness and help those struggling with everyday tasks, we’ve realised, with our partners, that we must keep going after the pandemic. This investment is gratefully received and strengthens the resolve we feel to do whatever we can to help vulnerable people in our community.  We are looking forward to developing Bay Volunteers Support Line into the future and are excited about the opportunities this investment and others will bring.” 

On behalf of the Bay Primary Care Network (PCN) and Bay ICC partnership, Dr Andy Maddox, Clinical Director of Bay PCN, said: “Bay Volunteers was born from our community and this investment is a gesture of appreciation in recognition of the contribution of our local volunteers throughout the pandemic and vaccination programme. We hope that the investment will contribute to further development of the local infrastructure to support our volunteers to continue to help our communities both now and in the future.” 

Dr Andy Foster, Bay ICC Clinical Lead, added: “The community response throughout the pandemic has been fantastic and there are so many people and groups to thank. Bay PCN and ICC will be working together throughout 2021/22 to help support other local groups who provide invaluable services to our community.” 

Sarah Baines, Development Lead for Lancaster ICC, said: “Without the Support Line (now re-branded as Bay Volunteers) I think the NHS and other services would have been under so much more pressure during the last year and potentially would not have coped with the additional demand.  

“As we know isolation and loneliness can contribute to deteriorating physical and mental health. By supporting those most vulnerable, Bay Volunteers have prevented this deterioration, that may have seen people being admitted to hospital unnecessarily and even dying, they have potentially saved lives.” 

A person using Bay Volunteers has given the following feedback: 

“I am disabled and unemployed, so I get my food from the Eggcup charity. I cannot physically walk down to the centre and back again with the groceries. I signed up for the support line and got a reply in only a few days.  I was so shocked to get a reply so quickly. The volunteer who has helped me has been fabulous and brings me the groceries every week. She greets me like a friend every week, always with a smile. She’s great at communication and always keeps me up-to-date on what’s happening that week. I am so grateful for the support line and the volunteer for helping me so much.” 

You can find out more about Bay Volunteers by watching the following video at the Bay Health and Care Partners YouTube channel here.  

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