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Families needing an extra pair of helping hands or a listening ear to get them through the COVID-19 crisis are being urged to pick up the phone.
Volunteers at Home Start Lorn are manning the phones throughout the outbreak in case they are needed.
The funded-service that costs £70,000 a year to run but is free to the 17 families currently on its books, has only had one new referall since the arrival of coronavirus – and that is a worry, says the project’s manager Aileen Binner.
The service is based in Oban but reaches out as far as Appin, Dalavich, Kilmore and over to Mull.
Families with at least one child under the age of five can ask Home Start Lorn for help from its 25 trained volunteers who will befriend them and help out whether it is helping them with the shopping, picking up prescriptions, accompanying a parent to play sessions or just being there to chat to on the other end of the phone.
‘There’s lots we can help with. We’re here for families wanting to do their best but struggling a bit for whatever reason.
‘Our volunteers come from broad backgrounds. It’s about offering friendship, emotional support and a wee bit of practical help too.
‘We’ve only had one referral since COVID started and that’s what’s worrying me. There must be families out there who are struggling through this and they don’t need to be alone. We just need them to pick up the phone, make that call to us. We can’t do home-visits at the moment but we are here for them.
‘This is a tricky time for lots of people but our service is all very informal and it is free,’ said Aileen.
The service, which employs three staff, relies on money from funding trusts to survive. It gets £30,000 a year from the Henry Smith Foundation and last year it received financial support from Argyll and Bute Council.
The service is busy making up art and craft activity packs for families to keep children entertained during lockdown. Donations they have received so far have included materials from Tesco.
To get help, volunteer or give other support, get in touch with Aileen on 07718 768305.