In Parliament this week I praised local volunteers for their work helping people with loneliness and isolation during the pandemic.
A spike in demand for mental health support in Dover & Deal has been reported during the coronavirus outbreak. I mentioned the Super Neighbours scheme, a local occupational therapist and Deal-based support group Talk It Out in the House of Commons chamber, with the latter reporting a surge in in new members since social distancing restrictions were introduced in March.
I told Parliament on Wednesday (June 17): “Loneliness, isolation. These have been the constant companions of many over these last few weeks. So I want to welcome social bubbles to help ease that loneliness and isolation.
“Will he join me and thank my constituents – Tracy Carr of Talk It Out, Beverly-Jayne Last of Super Neighbours, and the occupational therapist Justine Norris who have been working tirelessly over the last few weeks to help support the mental health and wellbeing of so many people at home during this pandemic.”
Matt Hancock said: “She speaks movingly of the support that so many have given and the three constituents she names deserve all of our praise for the work they have done, along with hundreds of thousands if not millions of others to support those who have been living alone. Whether it’s the 2.2 million who have been shielding because they are clinically vulnerable, or the over eight million who live on their own and during the lockdown have had to stay on their own.
“This has been a difficult time for many and I pay tribute to the community spirit and the support for others that so many have demonstrated.”
Talk It Out founder Tracy Carr said there have been dozens of new members and estimated three quarters of all members were suffering with extra problems caused by isolation. Regular video calls and one-to-one video counselling were being provided to try to combat the issue, said Ms Carr.
She added: “People are really desperate. Living with anxiety and depression is hard at normal times. Without the support of each other, without being able to see your friends, family, even your grandchildren, and worrying about all the consequences of this virus, I would say the problems are tenfold.
“But we are trying our best to look after each other – and I would encourage anyone who feels like they need any support to get in contact.”
Anyone in need of support should call Kent 7 Medway NHS Social Care Partnership’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 222 0123 for urgent mental health support, advice and guidance.
To get in touch with Talk It Out, people should call Tracy on 07923096273 or email email@example.com