Today we're delighted to welcome guest blogger Ian Pyke, who shares his personal experience of shielding during COVID-19 and poses the question of what happens next for those who are vulnerable?

COVID Support

"It has been a difficult few months for those classed as vulnerable and in the shielded group with them effectively being confined to their homes for the duration. Many of those in the shielded group, myself included, have benefitted from the re-discovered neighbourly spirit and the wonderful work carried out by volunteer groups such as Chase Coronavirus Support Network.

With the lockdown being lifted gradually the country is taking small steps back towards normality, whatever that will look like going forward. In accordance with government guidelines implemented on 6th July and further changes scheduled for 1st August government will give the shielded more freedom, including returning to a Covid-19 safe workplace.

At this time support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop.

NHS Volunteer responders will still operate and give support, but they only tend to supplement the work of local community groups.

However despite the government's advice that shielding can cease I am aware of many people who are being advised by their consultants that they should continue to shield. This obviously leaves these people in an increasingly vulnerable position and ever more reliant on community groups many of whom find themselves losing volunteers as they return to work.

But this need for support is not just limited to the current crisis. Last year I found myself in hospital and after three long weeks on a highly specialised ward my discharge was delayed for three days for the want of community support, partially due to the lack of community nursing support but also by the lack of help, the like of which community groups are providing in the current crisis. This need would have been much greater were I elderly or living on my own.

To compound this there are no formal working relationships or agreements between hospitals and community care groups in other areas.

One of the aims of Chase Independents is to create a strong and vibrant community and voluntary sector and possibly part of this could be in us making connections with hospitals rather than the other way round.

From my own personal experience and possibly yours too this drives at the question for something similar to the Chase Coronavirus Support Network going forward, post-Covid 19, whenever that may be.

The same question or challenge goes out to local volunteer groups whether they would/could offer a similar service but as part of an umbrella set-up rather than as individual organisations.

This will obviously require funding from charities or council, but an alternative approach is to make community support a pre-requisite for companies tendering for council business – but that’s maybe the subject of another blogpost."

This post has been written by a guest blogger. Do you have an issue you want to shine a spotlight on? Is there something you would like to write about? Let us know at [email protected] so we can shout about it too!