Volunteers ensure Sunart has plenty helping hands

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With lockdown imminent, Sunart Community Council called an emergency resilience meeting on March 15.

Supported by representatives of Sunart Community Renewables, the Scottish Ambulance Service and The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, it was agreed to set up a telephone helpline to support anyone self-isolating or requiring assistance.

Sunart Helping Hands was officially launched six days later.

At the same time, Strontian Stores and the Post Office announced it would start home deliveries and shop staff have been busy since.

Helping Hands is still going strong and Sunart residents are reminded the helpline is there for them if they cannot get out and about. Call 01967 750832 between 9am and 5pm and someone will help.

Fifty six volunteers are staffing the helpline and helping with deliveries.

The group has been working with Sunart Community Company to apply to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for several thousand pounds to cover costs of the work.

‘We are also working with Lochaber Foodbank, with Strontian acting as a distribution point for the area. We are linking up with Acharacle, Morvern, Ardgour and West Ardnamurchan community councils,’ added a group spokesperson.

‘We have delivered eight grocery boxes to those in need. To help the hard-working team at Dail Mhor Care Home, which is caring for some patients from Belford Hospital, Fort William, we are delivering daily hot meals to one local resident.

‘With some funding coming in from HIE, we are also launching a free, hot Sunday lunch delivery service to isolated older people in the village. This project will be delivered in partnership with the Bothy Bar and Restaurant, Kilcamb Lodge Hotel and the Ariundle Centre.’

In mid April, the NHS asked Helping Hands to take over delivery of all Sunart prescriptions to avoid people calling in to Dail Mhor.

The community council is in regular touch with NHS Highland staff to make sure services are dovetailing with professional services.

Sunart Community Council meets weekly via Zoom video conferencing to review Helping Hands.

Denise Anderson, chairwoman of Sunart Community Council said: ‘Although we have had the helpline running for over a month, the fact it has not been busy is testament to how the community is supporting older or more vulnerable members.

‘Lots of people are keeping an eye on their neighbours, keeping in touch and running errands for those who cannot get out to the shops which is so important in these difficult times.

‘Our village shops are providing a brilliant delivery service which is also making a big difference.’

To keep up-to-date with developments, follow Sunart Community Council on Facebook or visit www.sunartcommunitycouncil.co.uk