County Council staff and partner volunteers rally to support vulnerable residents over the weekend


Staff from Suffolk County Council gave up their free time to volunteer in efforts to support particularly vulnerable residents across the county.

A number of staff from Suffolk County Council gave up their free time over the weekend of 28 and 29 March to volunteer in efforts to support particularly vulnerable residents across the county, making over 400 welfare calls to residents who have been identified through the Government’s Covid-19 ‘Shielding’ programme as being potentially at risk or in need of additional support during this challenging time.

As communities continue maintaining self-isolation and social distancing instructions during current national emergency arrangements for Covid-19, the Government identified residents in every part of the country who were believed to have specific health conditions, and drew these together into a list provided to local authorities.

This has been referred to as ‘Shielding’. In Suffolk the number is believed to be around 11,000 people, who have been contacted by the Government and asked to indicate whether they need support or already have sufficient support mechanisms in place such as family or friends.

The vast majority will have access to the right level of support they need, but for those who don’t, the Government will be arranging for food and medical deliveries and Suffolk County Council is working with its local emergency service partners and boroughs and districts as well as the voluntary sector to fill any gaps and ensure people are not left without the support they need or essential items such as food.

Over the weekend, volunteers from Corporate Property, Human Resources, Finance and Democratic Services supported colleagues from Public Health to contact around 450 vulnerable residents from the Shielding list, in addition to the 200+ residents who were visited by crews from Suffolk Fire and Rescue.

As a result, around 28 essential food packages were prepared and then distributed to residents who confirmed during their conversations that they were in need of essential supplies but had no way of getting them. Work continues over coming days to identify and support such residents locally as the Government continues to roll out its programme of support.

Suffolk County Council Leader, Councillor Matthew Hicks said:

“I would like to thank our staff who have once again demonstrated they are willing to step up to the mark during this incredibly difficult time to ensure residents who are most in need receive the support and contact they need.

“This work was an emergency response as part of the national Shielding programme, but as we learn more details of potentially vulnerable people in Suffolk who may not have been captured by the Government’s Shielding list, we’ll be starting to call on volunteers who have registered with the Home But Not Alone Volunteer App called Tribe Volunteer.

“This free app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. We really need to make it clear that this service is not for general enquires or questions about Covid-19. This is all about reaching those residents who have a genuine need for our help so we can match them to a local volunteer where possible. We will be contacting everybody who signs up to volunteer in coming days and weeks to match them up with local communities where their support will be invaluable.”