Health Valleys is a key community anchor organisation in the Clydesdale area of South Lanarkshire and is at the cold face of supporting rural communities during the COVID 19 pandemic. As an organisation, we have been extremely quick to respond flexibly, innovatively and sensitively to the needs of local people and have redesigned support services to fill existing gaps.

We have a skilled and committed workforce that has worked tirelessly to support those in need of extra support at this time. Our volunteers, old and new, have contributed their time, enthusiasm, skills and local knowledge. To all of them, we are entirely grateful.

May, like March and April, has been a challenge for us all. We are still grappling with remote working and we miss the opportunity to work face to face with our beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and partner agencies. Despite these new challenges brought about by this pandemic, we have turned things around to view them as opportunities, it means we do things differently but the passion, energy and commitment to supporting, enabling and empowering communities hasn’t been diluted.

Covid-19 has brought many challenges. But with it, come some unexpected stories of hope and positivity. Jack is 82 and lives in Lanark. He has multiple health challenges and due to Covid-19 he has not been able to see any family and friends. Jack was referred to Healthy Valleys by the LanarkHelps well-being line after it was identified that he would benefit from some extra social support now that he is living alone, having lost his wife a year ago. His Referral was passed to our service for older adults.

The Project Worker rang and spoke to Jack, to assess his needs. She was then able to support him via our volunteer buddy scheme and matched Jack with our volunteer Stewart – himself an older man. Research shows how crucial companionship is to older adults, recent research shows that loneliness – as measured at the start of the study – was associated with a 40 percent higher risk of developing dementia over the 10-year follow-up. Healthy Valleys has a variety of programmes tailored to suit older people, with the sole aim of supporting social connections, peer support, group work activities, and volunteer buddying support to access local services and amenities.

Following the volunteer match, the Project Worker was happy to report that “Stewart and Jack hit it off straight away, they found that they had lots of things in common, including areas where they grew up, a coincidence but a beneficial one!” Stewart and Jack now chat at least once a week, ensuring that Jack gets some much-needed social interaction. Jack was keen to tell us how uplifting he has found their calls, saying “I look forward to Stewart’s call. It’s the highlight of my week”

Our volunteer Stewart also supports another isolated older man and has made plans with them that the three will meet up once the Lockdown is over and potentially go for a meal at a local café once a week. Post lockdown, Jack will have an established relationship with a buddy and potentially a new friendship to look forward to.

Without Covid-19, we wouldn’t have been aware of Jack, or known about his isolated lifestyle. We look forward to hearing about Jack’s journey once lockdown has ended and to supporting him as needed, to adjust, to get back out of his house and to re-engage with his community.

Some of the things we have delivered:

  • 913 wellbeing calls to beneficiaries;
  • 214 ‘listening ear’ calls to beneficiaries;
  • Continued support of local COVID-19 community groups;
  • 64 therapeutic calls to staff & beneficiaries;
  • 51 PPE packs delivered;
  • 209 fresh food boxes delivered to families;
  • 146 Healthy Start vitamin packs delivered;
  • 57 food bank referrals;
  • 23 wellbeing packs delivered;
  • 37 1-1 calls to women survivors of domestic abuse;
  • 28 shopping deliveries;
  • 41 prescription medication deliveries;
  • 15 CBT sessions;
  • 68 volunteers;
  • 153 support calls to volunteers;
  • 5 volunteering hours;
  • 110 onward referrals to 18 partner agencies;
  • 51 card making packs delivered; and
  • 31 knitting packs delivered.

At present, we are critically short of male volunteers in our older people service. If you have a couple of hours to spare a week and would like to help please contact Barbara on 07702 336542

(Update provided by Healthy Valleys)