The COVID-19 pandemic may have physically kept communities apart for several months, but communities across Essex have pulled together more than ever.
Essex residents and community groups responded quickly when The Essex Welfare Service, which was established within the space of a week in response to Covid-19, called for willing volunteers.
Due to its success the service has developed into the Essex Wellbeing Service and Essex County Council is now encouraging those who are socially isolated or in need of support to get in touch to take advantage of the hundreds of volunteers available to offer a helping hand.
Councillor Susan Barker (pictured), Cabinet Member for Customer, Corporate, Culture and Communities, Essex County Council, said: “The last few months have been tough for many people, with enforced long periods of no physical contact with others and, in some circumstances, no communication at all.
“For others, a return to ‘normal life’ as lockdown measures decrease may exacerbate their anxieties. The support network they’ve had for several months may no longer be there, as people return to work. We shouldn’t underestimate the impact of social isolation on people’s mental health and, if unchecked, the eventual impact on their physical health.”
The Essex Wellbeing Service gives all Essex residents, including parents and families, a single point of access to the practical, emotional and specialist support they need, irrespective of their circumstances.
It also connects those needing practical support with an appropriate volunteer or partner organisation, such as Live Well, Link Well.
Live Well, Link Well is a free, confidential service which works in partnership with GP surgeries across Essex to help people make positive changes to their personal wellbeing, connecting them with appropriate support in the community. It also assists in the development of personal goals.
Councillor Susan Barker said: “Live Well, Link Well is a key component of the Essex Wellbeing Service offer. Recent research, funded by the North Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance, has revealed community-based support groups and clubs can be a ‘life-line’ for those classed as vulnerable; not only can they help tackle social isolation, but they can improve wellbeing and self-confidence, which in turn can have a positive impact on mental and physical health.”
Essex County Council welcomes the findings of the research, regarding it as a valuable tool in helping the council work together with the health service, local authorities, and voluntary groups, to help Essex residents.
Councillor Susan Barker added: “The Essex Wellbeing Service will be at the heart of this joined-up approach to helping Essex residents recover from the effects of Covid-19. There is a wealth of support mechanisms out there, but we appreciate that during a time of need it can be overwhelming and people may be unsure who to turn to. The Essex Wellbeing Service is that link to getting you the right support, in the right place, at the right time.”
The Essex Wellbeing Service, commissioned by Essex County Council and delivered by Provide CIC in partnership with Priority Digital Health, will continue to see volunteers playing an active role in its success as they work with local, neighbourhood responses to requests for support.
The helpline for Essex Wellbeing Service is already live and residents can access services, for themselves or someone they know, immediately by calling 0300 303 9988 or visiting: www.essexwellbeingservice.co.uk.