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Innovate Support Community Helpline

by Gemma Melling

Knowsley’s Innovate Volunteering has played a key role in ensuring people facing hardship during the Coronavirus outbreak receive the help they need.

The community enterprise – with bases in Prescot and Huyton – has joined forces with the council to help develop the Community Support and Volunteer Hub. Since the hub launched in March, Community Navigators from Innovate, the Council and key partners have been responding to requests from hundreds of Knowsley residents needing support during the outbreak.

The Community Support Hub was established to provide support for people over 70 (or those under 70 with underlying health conditions), people who are self-isolating without support from family or friends and those facing financial hardship. So far Innovate has taken calls from over 500 residents ensuring they receive vital food supplies, co-ordinating the collection of prescriptions or passing on requests for dog walking or ‘check in and chat’ phone calls.

The Innovate team are now handling all of the calls deemed as urgent coming into the helpline.

Leanne Mallinson, Co-Director at Innovate said: “As a result of COVID-19 we were unable to support people to engage in their communities as we would usually do, so we were asked to help develop the council’s Community Support and Volunteer Line due to our knowledge and expertise of the voluntary sector in Knowsley.

“We are delighted to play such as key role in helping vulnerable residents to stay in, safely by ensuring that they were able to access essential items such as food, prescriptions and emotional support.”

Innovate Volunteering  is a Community Interest Company that has been working at the heart of communities since 2011, supporting people to access good quality volunteering opportunities. The ethos of Innovate is to promote community cohesion by co-developing projects which respond to local need; raising aspirations, enabling people to realise their potential, gain skills, build capacity, reduce social isolation, and enhance the emotional health and wellbeing of local people from cradle to grave through good quality volunteer led projects.

The organisation has two premises, Bryer Rd Community Centre in Prescot and Our Hub Community Shop in Manor Farm Rd, Huyton. Our Hub has a ‘pay what you can afford’ shop at the front of the building and a ‘Safe Space’ to the rear. It is run by trained volunteers who can offer support, a listening ear and signpost to other organisations/services.

Innovate Co-Director Angela Berquist added: “We pride ourselves on providing an extensive, array of training for our volunteers as a way of up-skilling our community. All our volunteers complete our mandatory volunteer training. Addition training includes: Domestic Abuse Awareness, Suicide Prevention, Mental Health Awareness, Responding to Drug and Alcohol Misuse, Family Coaching, Food Hygiene, First Aid, Medication, Online safety and many more.

“We are commissioned by Knowsley CCG and Knowsley Council to run the Community Navigator Service, across the borough, to reduce loneliness and isolation and also reduce the demand on Adult Social Care. We have worked with over 300 local support services and community groups to assist local residents to overcome barriers, to enable them to engage in their community.”

Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods Cllr Shelley Powell said: “Our partnership with Innovate Volunteering, and the key role they have played in supporting the Community Hub, is a shining example of Knowsley Better Together – how the council and its partners can work together to make a difference to those facing hardship at this challenging time.

And she asked residents to make sure as many people as possible know about the help on offer from the Community Hub: “Please tell others that we’re here to help. If you know of anyone eligible for help, ask them to call us on 0800 073 0043 between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and between 10am-2pm at weekends.”