My name is Sharon Gates, I am a link worker; I usually get referrals from GP surgeries for vulnerable socially isolated patients.

 

I can no longer go out and visit people or see them face to face because of the lock down. I am working from home now supporting people over the phone.

 

Solihull Healthcare Partnership asked CASB if the Link workers could phone their extremely vulnerable patients to make sure they were getting all the support they needed. There were over 600 people on their list. It was a very daunting challenge but we wanted to help.

 

The team at CASB all pulled together, we started to have zoom meetings and put a plan together. We asked our volunteers to support us and they have worked tirelessly, weekends included. They are amazing.

 

I stopped worrying and started phoning the patients. I have laughed with them, cried with them. It has been a wonderful experience. There have been days when I thought we were never going to get through the list and there have been great highs when I’ve seen what our team have done for people.

 

One patient was supported to get shielding food parcels, he had a bad back and could not pick the parcels up of the floor, we arranged to have a table put by his front door so now he can pick up his parcels. That is just one story there are many more.

 

We finished the list and we also started work on a second list for GPS healthcare with over a thousand people on it and that is almost complete now.

 

Working from home is hard for me I enjoy the face to face interaction with people. I have learnt so much in the past 8 weeks. Overall I would say most people are being looked after by friends, family and neighbours. The community has come together to support each other. Volunteer groups and charities have done a wonderful job and I am proud to be a small part of that.

 

8 weeks ago I was scared I didn’t know what could be achieved over the phone but we have helped almost 2000 people, I’m amazed, exhausted but no longer scared.

 

I look forward to the day I can see my colleagues face to face to thank them but for now working from home is not so bad and if it helps to shield people it needs to continue until it is safe to go back to some form of normal.

Take care everyone, stay safe and thank you for reading.

 

© 2015 Citizens Advice Solihull Borough | Design by Phil Choi