Food parcels and other essential supplies, wellbeing checks and healthy lifestyle advice are just some of the support that’s being offered to thousands of Torbay’s most vulnerable residents, who have been advised to shield at home for 12 weeks.

So far, around 3,400 residents in the Bay who have been identified as ‘extra vulnerable’ by the NHS have accessed a range of support from Torbay’s new ‘shielding hub’ as part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus crisis.

A total of 423 food parcels have been issued to date.

Led by Torbay Council and supported by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s Healthy Lifestyles team, the hub, which was set up at the end of March.

The hub has 13 call handlers and four people working in distribution of food and PPE. Staff provide talk to the extra vulnerable residents about issues including exercise, mental health, benefits advice and eating and drinking regularly.

Councillor Steve Darling, leader of Torbay Council, said: “I am extremely proud of the way everyone has pulled resources together across the council, and worked with our partners to get this hub up and running, redeploying staff from a wide range of different departments.

“We’ve had some very positive feedback – it makes people feel cared for and supported and that we are trying to make the situation easier for them.”

Matthew Fairclough-Kay leads on the shielding hub for Torbay Council, while Deborah Gidman leads on the hub’s call centre and Zoe Dunn on the hub’s distribution centre.

Deborah said: “The shielding hub has been set up with a view to looking after the whole person, and is very much integrated with our NHS partners. It was a fast turnaround - we had the shielding hub up and running within four days.

“Our staff come from broad range of backgrounds from dieticians to parking attendants and smoking cessation advisors and everyone has something unique to bring to the volunteer role of shield call handler. We even had Steve Parrock, Torbay Council’s chief executive, helping out in the call centre the other day! We have had some amazing feedback and that’s testament to our fantastic call handlers.

“Originally we had 150 people identified as extra vulnerable, we anticipated it could be up to 1,000 people – however so far it’s 3,400.”