New emergency support launched for vulnerable people needing urgent help

Posted: 30/03/20

A number of initiatives have been launched across the region to help vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cumbria County Council and partners have launched a new emergency support service for people at high risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of COVID-19, and who do not have support available from friends, family or neighbours.

Those at high risk include people over 70 years old, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions who should be protecting themselves by staying at home. The majority of these people will already be receiving support from family, friends or local voluntary groups. But a small number of people will not have this support. If they have no alternative, these people will now be able to call the Freephone number to request help with getting food, medicines, essential supplies and home deliveries.

Cumbria County Council has worked closely with District Councils, CVS, Cumbria Community Foundation, community and voluntary sector, private sector and the military to establish these new arrangements. To support the new helpline every area is coordinating a supply of essential food, medicines and supplies which can only be accessed via the emergency helpline or email. The requests received asking for help will then be matched with local support and supplies being offered by community groups, volunteers, councils and businesses.

The emergency telephone support line is 0800 783 1966. Or you can email your request for help to [email protected].

Further details about this support service can be found online at

The telephone line will operate Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5pm and 10am to 2pm at weekends. The service will also accept referrals from members of the public who may be concerned about people in their community.

People who are self-isolating must not go out to get food shopping, many of these people have good support networks who they can rely on for the delivery of food, medicines or essential services and supplies. But for those who don’t we are launching the new emergency support helpline. We want to reassure the public that we are ready to provide support to our most vulnerable residents who may not have friends or family available to help them.

Cllr Deborah EarlCabinet Member for Public Health and Communities

It is important to speak to others and ask them to help you to make arrangements for delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies, and look after your physical and mental health and wellbeing. It’s been reassuring to see there is already widespread community and voluntary sector support for the response to COVID-19 across Cumbria. We all must continue to work together to help those who are isolated or at high risk.

Carolyn OtleyCumbria CVS, Chair of Community Resilience Group

Similarly, Newcastle City Council has set up Citylife Line for people wanting to volunteer their time while also providing a service for people to register their need for assistance.

Newcastle City Council says they may not need help immediately but want to build up a list of those who may wish to offer their time and skills. Then people will be able to get in touch to let the council know they need assistance.

Volunteers will only be assigned to make essential journeys where travel is needed in light of government measures.

The community spirit, offers of support and gestures of goodwill already displayed across Newcastle have been fantastic, a true testament to our Geordie grit and our safe, caring city.

Citylife Line will give us the ability to coordinate these responses and harness this goodwill in the right way. It will allow us to identify the most vulnerable people in our city, making sure that anyone who requires help and support gets this quickly and securely.

Council officers and partners in the voluntary and community sector have worked tirelessly to establish this service, it has taken a huge effort to get this off the ground so please bear with us whilst we work through any teething problems. We will protect the vulnerable and we will ensure those offering to volunteer can do so in the correct, safe way.

I would reiterate again to our city how vital it is we all follow the guidance on social distancing and to support our friends, families and neighbours. You do not need to register to carry on doing this. But by doing your bit to help the people around you the resources supporting Citylife Line can work where they are needed most.

Councillor Nick ForbesLeader of Newcastle City Council

Citylife Line will also help those most vulnerable residents who have been contacted by the NHS having been identified among the 1.4 million individuals most susceptible to the virus. Citylife Line will prioritise those people, unless they are already being supported with a social care need, to make sure they are shielded from COVID-19.

People who pledge their support will have their contact details taken and reviewed. Their details will be passed on to an organisation that needs support who will contact them directly if they are required.

There are some brilliant voluntary and community organisations across the city who are willing to help at this time, and who are able to accept new volunteers.

But the situation is changing on a daily basis and people are unsure where they can go for support, or how best to help. We hope that by linking up with Volunteer Centre Newcastle we will be able to signpost people to the help they need.

Lisa GoodwinChief Executive of Connected Voice

While a lot of people have taken to social media offering their help to communities there are a small number who inevitably will look to exploit vulnerable people. Citylife Line will introduce an element of triage and safeguarding measures to minimise the risk of this sort of activity.

Those wishing to offer support can register their interest and those needing to ask for help can do so via the forms here. The helpline to call is 0191 277 8000.

Gateshead Council is also offering community support to make sure everyone is safe while self-isolating.

If someone does not have support from a trusted person or organisation or they feel unsafe, residents are advised to contact online or call 0191 433 7112.

Residents are able to request help if they need essential support or they can offer their help as a volunteer via the website. An online form allows people to register their interest and they will be matched to an organisation that needs people to help.