Chorley Buddies began providing a listening ear and practical assistance within days of lockdown beginning back in March.
Now it has joined forces with more than half a dozen other voluntary and faith groups to launch the Chorley Community Helpline. The service will continue its efforts to combat loneliness and isolation, as well as offering deliveries of essentials.
However, emergency food support, money advice and help with homelessness will also now be available from all of the individual organisations – via a single phone number.
Chorley Buddies’ founder Paul McBeth said that the groups now working together had mostly discovered each other’s existence while doing their best for the borough when the pandemic struck.
“It became clear as we got to know each other that there were an awful lot of things going on in Chorley that people should really know about – but it was actually quite difficult for residents to know where to go for what.
“We’re hoping that the new phoneline will be a case of the sum of the parts being greater than the individual components,” he said.
Even if – as everybody hopes – the worst of the pandemic is over, Paul believes that there could still be “more problems ahead of us than behind us” to keep the new service busy.
The potential fallout from lockdown is amongst the first issues with which it may be faced – prompting the launch of a new sister scheme, Active Buddies, with the support of the Chorley Council.
“The idea is to encourage people out of the house – many won’t have left their homes since March and they have lost their rhythms and routines as a result.
“We want to get them into some kind of regime so that they’re taking a minimum of 30 minutes’ exercise a week. We’re piloting it for three months to see whether the approach we’re taking works.
“But it’s not just physical activities – we want people to start socialising again by joining groups and getting back into society,” Paul explained.
ONE NUMBER TO CALL
To access any of the support offered by the Chorley Community Helpline, residents can call the free number set up to put them in touch with the right group to help – 0800 3688452