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Suffolk community volunteers unite to help elderly in self-isolation

PUBLISHED: 12:49 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:49 16 March 2020

Debbie McCallum, landlady of The Bell in Kesgrave, is forming a group of volunteers in Kesgrave to help those self-isolating  Picture: COLIN SHAW

Debbie McCallum, landlady of The Bell in Kesgrave, is forming a group of volunteers in Kesgrave to help those self-isolating Picture: COLIN SHAW

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Communities in Suffolk have been uniting in a bid to help provide goods and services to older people self-isolating due to the coronavirus.

Communities across Suffolk are uniting to help elderly people voluntarily self-isolating due to coronavirus who have limited access to food  Picture: GARETH FULLER/PACommunities across Suffolk are uniting to help elderly people voluntarily self-isolating due to coronavirus who have limited access to food Picture: GARETH FULLER/PA

Although the government is yet to enforce self-isolation guidelines for people over the age of 70 - who are said to be the most at-risk from the virus - those voluntarily staying at home have become a cause for concern, community leaders have said.

In light of the ongoing developments, Kesgrave-based district councillor Debbie McCallum is now in the process of creating a group of those in the town in a position who can help.
MORE: Suffolk public health chief on why to take guidelines seriously

Posting on Facebook, Mrs McCallum - who runs The Bell pub - said she has been 'astounded' by the response of people wanting to help with the proposed group.

Mrs McCallum said: 'As a district councillor I have a civic duty to do something to help people in my area.

'Around where I live there is a large number of elderly people, some will be on their own.

'This is all about bringing the bare basics to people, to be there on the phone to say 'are you okay?' and help in what will be a scary time for people.

'I'm happy to take the lead on this - I work full time as a publican and there's a chance the pub may have to temporarily close. I earn an allowance as a councillor, and I want to make sure that I'm out there earning it.'

MORE: Follow up-to-date coronavirus news in our Facebook group

Elsewhere in the county, more than 50 people have put their names forward in Stowmarket to help people self-isolating by dropping off supplies at their doorstep or to talk over the phone to help combat loneliness and mental health deterioration.

One of those looking to help, Tracey Potts-Brennan, said anyone in the community who feel they are at risk during self-isolation should contact her or her team of fellow volunteers.

Mrs Potts-Brennan said: 'I'm fit and healthy, but I know there are so many other people in the county who are alone and do not have a family there to support them.

'If we can help in any way, even if it's just delivering some loo roll or to help with any other basic home supplies then we are here to help.'

Mrs McCallum added: 'We need to go back to the grassroots of what makes this country great, and that's helping others.'

Three Facebook groups, 'Mid and West Suffolk Community Helpers and Requests', the 'Stowmarket Self Isolation Helpers' and 'Ipswich Anti Loo Roll Brigade' are open to more members.

Mrs Potts-Brennan can be contacted on 07981 954968, while fellow volunteer Wendy Risdale-Barrs is available on 07799 264087.

MORE: All coronavirus stories for Suffolk and north Essex

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