Parks and tourist attractions across Torbay are being used as safe spaces in a unique scheme to help vulnerable people emerge from shielding in a safe and controlled way.

Christine and Dennis TaylorChristine and Dennis Taylor

Government support for the most vulnerable people who have been self-isolating since the start of lockdown ended at the beginning of August, but some people are still reluctant to emerge.

Callers to the Torbay Community Helpline have said that although the restrictions have lifted, they would prefer not to return to normal routines until a vaccine is available.

In what is believed to be the only scheme of its type, parks, gardens and some tourist attractions are opening across the Bay, at set times, exclusively for people who are shielding.

Where appropriate the venues are carrying out deep cleans in the hours before opening with stewards on hand to ensure that only vulnerable people and their carers are allowed in.

Community Builders and volunteers have also set up a buddy scheme to accompany those who are worried about leaving their homes for the first time in five months.

Christine Taylor, 66, has been shielding with her husband Dennis, 74, who has recovered from several different types of cancer and has yet to venture out of their home in Locarno Avenue, Preston.

She said: “This has come at such a brilliant time. We are so excited to think we can go and there will be others there to watch out for us, and everyone will know that we are still shielding.”

Another resident of Locarno Avenue, Teresa Panizzi went into lockdown on March 24 and only started to venture out in the last few weeks.

From the beginning of the crisis, her prescription were collected by one of the Torbay Community Coronavrius Helpline volunteers, Steve Tucker, and her food was delivered by Louise’s Greengrocers in Preston.

“I was lucky. I have had fabulous people around me, my neighbour Marie Gee was an absolute angel. I have a little garden, and I kept in touch with family and lots of Ageing Well friends by phone and text but I have remained careful, and that is whey these shielding parks are marvellous.”

For a list of the venues and opening hours, go to https://ageingwelltorbay.com/shieldingsites/ or call the Torbay Community Helpline 01803 446022