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Community effort under way across Caithness to look after vulnerable people

By Gordon Calder

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Telford House, Caithness Voluntary Group's offices in Wick.
Telford House, Caithness Voluntary Group's offices in Wick.

A CAITHNESS-wide initiative is being organised to support people who could become isolated or vulnerable due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is being set up by Caithness Voluntary Group (CVG) in conjunction with a number of local community groups.

The first task has been been to identify a lead organisation in each of the 12 local community council areas to help with the plan, as Allan Tait, senior development officer with CVG, explained.

He said the initiative has been developed over the past week and involves identifying local needs for supplies of food and other essential items for vulnerable/self-isolating people.

These include:

  • Collecting and delivering shopping
  • Passing on information about local shopping options
  • Collecting and delivering prescriptions
  • Providing contact information (phone number, email, Facebook page) for vulnerable people to contact if they need support
  • Signposting people to appropriate sources of help if needed – preparing a list of key contacts such as NHS, Highland Council and third sector (voluntary) groups.

Mr Tait said: "We are progressing well in establishing these lead groups which are a mixture of community councils, development trusts and other community and church groups, whatever is best placed in the area.

"The groups have been working incredibly hard to prepare and have the necessary protocols in place to support and ensure the safety of the volunteers they are recruiting.

"Highland Council is also looking to set up a central phone line for people who have concerns, and calls from that will feed back to the local areas. That number is likely to be issued this week.

"We are already seeing some great examples of sharing information and best practice. Thurso Community Development Trust and Pulteneytown People's Project are working closely together to prepare in what are unprecedented circumstances.

"Some groups are already providing meals for the vulnerable, with the Dunbeath Centre busy in their area.

"All the groups are also now going to be working with and helping Caithness Foodbank, which is looking to increase its capacity, and we are in daily contact with Highland Council and Highlands and Enterprise so everyone is kept up to date."

Caithness Rural Transport is getting ready to deliver vital supplies if needed, Mr Tait added.

"We understand how difficult a time this is for people who may become very isolated," he said. "At CVG we are looking to set up a telephone befriending service.

"Despite things changing on a daily basis, plans are being prepared and more details will follow so that we can ensure that everyone is looked after."

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