Charity goes the extra mile

Read the full article.

Full story inside this week’s print edition or Login/subscribe to access our Digital Edition & App

A Kircubbin-based charity has found new and innovative ways to support people in isolation during lockdown.

Known for promoting and providing services that improve health and wellbeing, Peninsula Healthy Living (PHL), has found new ways continuing to support local people by adapting their services during lockdown to help keep spirits high and needs met during these uncertain times.

This has included providing live keep-fit videos on their social media for people to take part in from their own homes and distributing isolation packs which include essential items and crafts to their existing social group members.

Talking about the innovative support, Sheila Bailie, PHL manager, explained the organisation is a member of the regional Healthy Living Centre Alliance.  

“Together with our colleagues, we have had virtual meetings using technology such as Zoom and WhatsApp so that we can agree a sub-regional response to Covid-19,” she said.

“We have never witnessed so much goodwill from the local community.  Individuals, families, community groups, sports clubs, business owners, community activists, charities, churches and more – everyone wants to do ‘something’ no matter how little. 

“With others, PHL is helping to channel this energy, co-ordinate volunteers, and link with other bodies doing the same.  This has helped many people to hold it together at a time when mental and emotional health has been severely challenged.”

“Things have changed with government rules and the lockdown, so the pandemic brought with it confusion and people not knowing how to respond initially,” she continued.

“It took a couple of weeks for that to roll out and for me to figure out how, as the manager, it would work. Not only for the staff, but also how we could continue to support those people whose needs increased.

“They needed the support even more than normal and we were sitting at home wondering what do we do and how should we do it.

“We got on top of our game fairly quickly and within a couple of weeks we were organised and starting to link in with others including businesses, to look at how we could support people with free meals and do prescription pick-ups and collections.

“As we already support people who are isolated, lonely and vulnerable and with health needs, we would have had resources and materials and we needed to use those and just do something differently.”

Sheila explained how PHL had been receiving referrals directly and indirectly from health professionals, community groups and businesses about particular members of the community who during lockdown had been feeling vulnerable, isolated or struggling.

The charity has been able to support these people in a number of ways, using innovative ways of staying in touch with their clients and new people asking for help through outlets such as Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp and Zoom.

Talking about some of the innovative ways PHL has been able to stay in touch with members and clients, Sheila explained: “The distribution of isolation packs started with essential items and crafts being delivered to the doors of our existing social group members in the early days of the pandemic.

“It was a goodwill gesture to say we are thinking of you all and we hope you are ok. We know this is tough.”

Sheila told how this goodwill gesture soon grew, noting how PHL had a variety of clubs and programmes prior to lockdown, including a project aimed at helping those living with dementia and their families or carers.

“This brought us into contact with local care homes,” she added.

“So, the idea of delivering isolation packs to our local care homes was a natural progression as we already work with some of these homes and we are all aware that staff members in care homes are under significant pressure due to the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Sheila said the isolation packs and craft boxes had been welcomed with open arms, offering a ‘ray of sunshine’ to those in need.

She continued: “Recently PHL has been working with the regional Integrated Care Partnership body to consider others ways to support care homes. 

“One idea we are exploring is the delivery of a box of resources to allow the set-up of a ‘Rainbow Room’ for care home staff.  This would be a space for staff to go when they are in need of some solace and might contain items such as tea, coffee, snacks and toiletries, inspiring messages, room decorations and health and wellbeing resources.”

If you know of anyone who is finding it difficult to get through this challenging time, Peninsula Healthy Living is happy to take a referral.  Email Sarah Huggett at: shuggett.phl@gmail.com or phone Sarah on: 07414 181833.