25 January 2016

More than 200 council staff have volunteered to give extra help to the elderly this winter. This means people who don’t have family and friends nearby will have someone to bring round emergency supplies like bread, milk and medication, or check in on them if the weather turns and it snows or there is ice on the ground.

In the last six years the council’s voluntary scheme has grown from just three people to 230 staff. Now the army of volunteers is ready to support 1,800 older people who are part of Sheffield City Council’s community support worker service, which provides support to older people referred by their GPs.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for Health, Care and Independent Living at Sheffield City Council, said: “We’ve got some great staff working at the council and many want to help in their own time, as well as at work.

“It can be difficult for people to get out during wintery weather. Older people in particular can struggle and can be very isolated. I’m really proud that so many of our staff have offered to help.”

Community support workers from the council telephone the older people on their books to check they are alright and have food when snow is forecast.

Andy Wallace, who works at the council, was asked to visit an elderly man last winter after his sister couldn’t reach him on the phone. Andy said: “I wasn’t sure what I would find when I got to William’s house as his sister was worried that he might have fallen or something worse had happened. But luckily he was fine – he’s a bit deaf so hadn’t heard his sister phoning him so didn’t know she was worried. When he answered the door, he was really surprised and so happy to see someone. l asked him if he needed anything, he declined but said he really appreciated me taking time to see him in the bad weather His sister was also happy when she knew he was alright. I felt on top of the world and like I’d really made a difference. I also asked a Community Support Worker to go and see him, which they did the very next day.”

The council is also encouraging people to help their elderly neighbours this winter. It is promoting its new ‘Snow your neighbour you care’ card which has been designed to help kind-hearted people offer help to older people this winter.

Designed to act as an ice-breaker and a way for people to introduce themselves, people can add their details to the card and post it through an older person’s door, or use it to start off a chat. It includes the words: ‘hello my name is’, ‘I live at’, ‘you can contact me by’ and ‘I am happy to help with things like clearing snow, shopping or just having a chat.’

For more information and to download the card please visit www.sheffield.gov.uk. Cards can also be picked up from libraries, doctors’ surgeries, council buildings and other public building.