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Everybody needs a Good Neighbour!

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The TORBAY Helpline has launched a search for Good Neighbours who have gone the extra mile during the coronavirus crisis. 

 
Hundreds of people have volunteered to help their neighbours during the crisis and more than 50 set up their own Good Neighbour schemes, forging new friendships and looking after the most vulnerable people in the Bay. 
 
Tracey Cabache, Community Development Manager at the Torbay Community Development Trust said: “We have seen so many acts of kindness during this crisis with neighbours looking out for each other - shopping, collecting prescriptions and ringing each other." 
 
“We knew we had strong and resilient communities in the Bay, but even we have been surprised by how strong they have proved to be." 
 
“We want to build on that and encourage people to keep on looking after each other. For some the lockdown will not be lifted completely for some time yet and they will continue to rely on the kindness of others.” 
 
Moving forward, we are inviting people to join our Good Neighbours Network. We are looking for Neighbours who want to pull together the people in their street (or section of street, or block) to make a good recovery, linking people safely together to take us through the next stage of the Coronavirus and beyond. We will provide Good Neighbours with information and advice, and a Community Builder to help them make the most of the opportunities on their street. The Network will help us share all of the great ideas that are bubbling up in our communities. 
 
To join the Network, please go to https://bit.ly/goodneighbourtorbay or call our Community Helpline on 01803 446022
Kelly Bedoyan | 16th Jun 2020

Volunteering while stuck at home - meet Lesley

Lesley Bullock had volunteered for most of her life and was wondering what she could do when the coronavirus struck and lockdown began. 

 
She really wanted to help, but her own medical condition meant that she had to shield which ruled out shopping for neighbours, collecting prescriptions or anything that would mean leaving her home in Foxhole Road in Paignton. 
 
Then she spotted some information from the Torbay Helpline about telephone befriending, and the penny clicked: “People say I can talk the hind legs off a donkey, so I signed up with our community builder Nina Cooper.” 
 
Not only can 57-year-old Lesley talk, but she is also good at it, so good that at the height of the crisis nine people were looking to forward to hearing from her – often the only other person they spoke to from week to week. 
 
As the lockdown has eased, Lesley is now down to seven, but one of those is three times a week and another four times a week and she spends at least 18 hours every week with the phone clamped to her ear. 
 
“I have one 90-year-old who misses her friends and her church and at first the calls were difficult. It took me weeks to get her to laugh, but we got there,” said Lesley who does not underestimate the importance of her calls. 
 
“I have one lady with who I ring several times a week to give her daughter, who is her carer a bit of a break and if I don’t ring within minutes of the time I said I would she is on the phone asking me where I am.” 
 
And it is a combination of the calls and her wonderful neighbours, Jacqui and Keri that have given her, in her own words, a reason to get out of bed every morning.   
 
“Without the calls and my neighbours, I honestly do not know how I would have got through this. Some days it is like being in prison when the key has been thrown away, and you have been forgotten." 
 
“A lot of us feel the same, and our conversations give us a lift and help us through, it is a win-win,” she added. 
 
In addition to the calls for the helpline – several of which will continue long after the crisis is over because the people have now become firm friends, Lesley keeps in touch with her family of four daughters, a son and five grandchildren. 
 
She has had to deal with the worry of having one of her daughters continuing to work as a carer and not know from day to day how she is and of her son who had to move out sixteen weeks ago to allow him to continue working. 
 
Lesley has had COPD for more than 10 years, and her world was already shrinking because of mobility issues. But she did manage to keep in touch with her community, and she misses many of the people she saw in the neighbourhood from week to week. 
 
Even now as the shielded restrictions are lifted slightly, she is reluctant to go out and thus far has only managed 20 minutes in her garden since the week before lockdown began. 
 
She yearns for the day when she can see her children and grandchildren again and even get to have a cup of tea with some of the people she has come to know so well on her calls. 
 
She also wants to carry on her life of volunteering – she was involved for many years with the St John Ambulance and worked with Nina when the Crafty Fox was being set up – and she wants to work with older people 
 
“I will be looking to volunteer to visit older people,“ she said “there are a lot of people out there who have nobody, and they are the ones that get left behind." 
 
So many are too frightened to ask for help, and yet they still have so much to give,” said Lesley. 
 
With people like Lesley reaching out the hand of friendship, one thing is for sure - their world won’t remain silent for long.

 

Kelly Bedoyan | 16th Jun 2020

Volunteers, you are awesome

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

 
When the coronavirus crisis hit and the calls started coming in, we quickly realised we were going to need help.  A lot of help.
 
We asked for volunteers, and you came forward in your hundreds, and many of you are still with us today.
 
We can now boast a veritable army of volunteers across the Bay helping their friends, neighbours and even people they had, until a few weeks ago, never met and others that they won’t see face to face for a while yet.
 
We knew our communities were strong and resilient, but even we have been taken aback by the determination to come through this together, with everyone doing their bit where they can.
 
We have been staggered by the individual acts of kindness that we have come to call #TorbayKind with so many people going that extra mile for others.
 
Back in February, just a month before lockdown began, I wondered  in a previous column whether volunteering had lost its shine, speculating that in recent years the word volunteer appeared to have acquired a formal and disciplined aspect that we would all rather avoid.
 
How wrong I was.
 
I will happily eat my words and apologise to those who took me to task at the time because the old saying, “cometh the hour, cometh the man “has never been more true and Torbay man and Torbay woman have come forward in an unprecedented way for these unprecedented times.
 
We were for a time overwhelmed by the response, such was the scale of it, but as things settled into a rhythm we were able to take advantage of the help on offer.
 
In just a few weeks we had more than 700 people prepared to do whatever was needed – whether it be joining snaking queues outside supermarkets to buy and deliver much needed food or  to stand in equally long columns of people,  two metres apart, outside pharmacies to collect prescriptions.
 
People were prepared to drop whatever they were doing when an urgent call came in and rush out to help wherever they could.
 
We also had people acting as drivers for the foodbanks – some travelling as far as Bristol to pick up much needed supplies. Others were going from one of the 12 foodbank bases spread across Paignton, Torquay and Brixham to ensure nutritious meals and food parcels were delivered to where they were needed most.
 
Others, some self-isolating themselves, took to the phones, either as telephone befrienders – making calls to others who were lonely or isolated  – or joining the teams of people staffing the Torbay Community Coronavirus Helpline.
 
When we named it a Community Helpline back at the beginning of March we had no idea how apt that was – it has been uniting communities and supporting new communities ever since.
 
It has brought together not just volunteers from the Torbay Community Development Trust but from Age UK Torbay, Healthwatch Torbay and Citizens Advice Torbay, as well as  from the NHS and Torbay Council alongside people who have never volunteered before.
 
United the community helpline has become a force to be reckoned with and it has been able to keep the most important thing as its focus, and that is the people – whether it has been the people giving or the people receiving  help.
 
It is said of volunteering that it is a great way to get experience (true); to gain new or use existing skills (true). It is also said that it is a great way of meeting new people (virtually true) and of making a big difference in your community (absolutely true).
 
Some of our volunteers are now returning to their  new  ‘normal’ and have had to give up their regular ‘on call’ status, but the vast majority of them tell us that they will continue to volunteer in whatever way they can.
 
In the words of one of our volunteers, Bob Ward: “Even when I get back to work and things begin to return to whatever normal is, I will continue to volunteer, I will always find time for that.”
 
This week is Volunteers’ Week and a perfect time to say a massive thank you to each and every one of you.
 
We commissioned Geoff ‘ The Sandman’  Ward to created one of his magnificent artworks on the beach in your honour, and we like to think that the extra ‘L’ that appeared in the word volunteer represents all the love that has been shown over the last few weeks.
 
THANK YOU.
 
Kelly Bedoyan | 16th Jun 2020
TCDT have teamed up with the Co-op to offer up to 12 cream teas for the winning entries in Brixham, Paignton and Torquay to share (socially distanced) between neighbours for the best stories submitted. 
 
To enter, share stories, pictures or artwork on Facebook  @Torbaycdt or drop them into your local Torbay branch of the Co-op. Deadline for entries is Monday, June 22nd. 

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I have lived in Brixham for nearly 30 years woked in the healthcare industry for 20 years. I stopped working a few years ago due to health reasons. I became somewhat bored being at home so I applied for some volunteer work with children and vunerable ... Read more

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I regularly board and take care of multiple pets throughout the week, whether it be for behavioural issues, much needed exercise, medical care or vet check ups, I'm always here to help.

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