“Let’s Talk”: Keeping the vulnerable safe during the pandemic

Pic: Wikipedia

With thousands of residents in Hackney asked to self-isolate due to their age or underlying health conditions, the Council has launched an initiative set up to give people feeling lonely, stressed, or anxious the chance to speak to someone about their worries during the lockdown.

So far approximately 518 elderly and vulnerable Council tenants have sought help, advice, or simply a friendly chat through “Let’s Talk”- an initiative to ensure that self-isolation doesn’t mean social isolation for residents during the coronavirus emergency.

For millions Covid19 means increased anxiety and stress levels because they either live alone, are on fixed or limited incomes, or can no longer fend for themselves due to the lockdown restrictions. The elderly in particular rely on social connections and relationships more than anyone else.

Lena Jenkins, from Stoke Newington, who has been shielding due to underlying health conditions, has been receiving regular phone calls through the project after her mother passed away.

Jenkins, 66, said: “My mum died on 12 March and she and I lived together. I now get calls checking to see if I am okay and how I am coping”.

“Siovhan from the Let’s Talk team has been really nice. She phones me every couple of weeks to talk through things and explain stuff to me, saying ‘stick in there, don’t worry, you are going to be okay,” added Jenkins.

The restrictions put in place by the lockdown has changed the way we live and interact with people around us. Decreased physical mobility and self-isolation has made it difficult for people to know how to best support the vulnerable and those we care about.

Even those with a stable income, secure job, home schooling facilities and a safe home environment have been left physically and mentally overwhelmed by the lockdown.  

Councillor Clayeon McKenzie, cabinet member for housing services said: “During this hugely challenging time our number one priority is making sure that vulnerable residents have the support they need”.

The Council has already made nearly 7000 calls, allowing residents to raise any concerns about their access to food, medication or any other support that they might need.

“Often this means help with food, finances or healthcare, but just as important can be a regular chat and a friendly voice on the other end of the phone as well all adapt to the emotional challenges the pandemic has brought,” added McKenzie.

The initiative has been launched by the Council’s resident participation service. On regular days the team provides help and support to residents in organising events, making improvements on their estates or in helping them set up community groups.

With reduced care and increased isolation, the team has shifted to working remotely to help residents during the pandemic.

If you or someone you know is a Hackney Council resident and could benefit from Let’s Talk, contact the resident participation team on get.involved@hackney.gov.uk or 02083567845.

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