Shielding team chat

Monday July 20th 2020


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

More than 3,300 people were ordered to shield in Midlothian during the Covid-19 lockdown, it has been revealed.

The council’s 40-strong shielding team, set up to support those unable to go out, said it provided essential help to residents who were unable to leave their homes.

And for many of them it was the first time they had any contact with local authority services.

The team has revealed that shielding contact led to some people being identified for help who would in normal circumstances have remained under the radar.

And they said they ended up referring people to a range of services, from family welfare to domestic abuse help.

The team contacted more than 3,300 people who were identified as vulnerable and in need of shielding, with a range of support available, from food parcels to collecting medicine or simply offering a friendly ear.

Anthony Neri, one of the shielding team and a student social worker, revealed that conversations with some of those in need had, in some cases, led to unexpected outcomes.

He said: “Shielding is often the first time residents have engaged with local authority services and so we are able to help them with challenges in their life that had previously gone unnoticed.

“We have referred people to support from the children and families service, mental health, domestic abuse, carer stress or welfare and financial support services.

“Our role has given us an opportunity to promote the social work profession in a more positive light, to remove common misconceptions and show we can be approachable, effective and empathetic.”

Fellow team member Caroline King, a social work student, said it was rewarding just to chat to people who found themselves isolated.

She said: “I enjoy talking to people and it definitely seems we have made a difference. No two days have been the same, with all sorts of interesting enquiries.

“Many local residents have told me that “I have made their day”, that they appreciate the hard work and are very grateful they have not been forgotten.”

The team has been working to support people from the start of lockdown and Alison White, the council’s head of adult and social care, said she was proud of every member.

She said: “I am very proud of what the shielding team in Midlothian have achieved. We got up and running quickly and have rallied round residents in their time of need to provide both a sympathetic ear and practical support.”

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