Leeds charity’s figures highlight frontline role during city’s pandemic fight

A Leeds charity says it has made its 4,000th wellbeing call, as it catalogues the thousands of interactions it’s made to keep older people safe during a pandemic plagued 12 months.

The phone calls to isolated, older people are on top of more than 400 deliveries of food and medicine, 370 information and advice sessions and 800 telephone based befriending sessions Wetherby in Support of the Elderly (WiSE) and its volunteers have completed since January.

The charity says it’s also hosted 30 online line dancing sessions and produced 11 editions of an activity pack to help keep 110 older people busy with puzzles, games and reading during long months of shielding.

Mark Dobson, Operations Manager at WiSE said: “We’re a small charity that’s punched above our weight to deliver much needed help to isolated during a pandemic which has wrought havoc to our normal, day-to-day schedule of support.

“These figures really illustrate the difference a committed group of fantastic volunteers and a tiny number of dedicated staff can make to older a people in a year that’s been like no other.

“Of course, we’ve had to adapt our work and think creatively about the way we deliver our core services, with understandable limits to our face-to-face engagement. But whether it’s making a quick phone call to break someone’s loneliness, delivering food to someone who simply can’t get out to the shops or sending someone puzzles to keep them entertained I couldn’t be prouder of the impact we’ve made in an otherwise difficult year.”

Wetherby in Support of the Elderly (WiSE) is a registered charity organisation part funded by Leeds City Council (LCC).  Its aim is to improve quality of life for the over 60s by providing community based activities, information, help and support.

It was forced to suspend many of its everyday activities when Covid-19 restrictions first hit in March, but quickly stepped up by delivering food parcels, shopping and prescriptions to people of all ages. The charity also coordinated the volunteer effort across Harewood and Wetherby to ensure people got access to food through referrals to LCC’s online portal.

It was recently presented with a special award by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Eileen Taylor in recognition of its efforts during the pandemic so far.

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