The pandemic saw ‘The Westway Centre’ support local residents by creating a hub of support ranging from shopping and prescription deliveries, a buddy phone calling service and more recently activities, workshops, lunch and a meals on wheels service. Over 200 people volunteered at the centre too (all with an array of talent) and many still continue to help on a daily basis.
A survey was carried out within the four parishes of Caterham on the hill, Caterham Valley, Chaldon and Whyteleafe and 545 people responded. Emerging from the survey was the shocking fact that 40% of local people surveyed explained that they don’t use any form of technology. Many may not have access to IT products and those who do may not know how how to use them. This has consequently resulted in residents suffering from a loss of communication with both friends and family. Working within safeguarding restrictions, volunteers have offered to train elderly people with how to use technology.
One of the key areas which the Centre would like to focus on is to carry out more work in the community, possibly through referrals from the NHS and Adults Social Care. Jeremy Webster recently explained: “The Neighbourhood Plan, which is about to be given “significant weight” ahead of a referendum is about much more than planning, it’s about looking after the community”.
Many volunteers are now returning to work and so new ones need to be recruited and trained for the future. Having volunteers of varied expertise is extremely important. Different skill sets are needed when it comes to helping people cope with stress, upset and early signs of depression.