The Isle of Wight Council has pledged to continue its work in supporting around 6,000 residents who are currently shielded or isolated, so they can begin the transition to become self-dependent again with confidence.
Shielding will officially pause on Saturday (1 August), but there will still be help at hand for thousands of vulnerable Islanders who need assistance with the transition to begin arranging their shopping, medical prescriptions or social support.
For those residents where there is a genuine ongoing support need and no alternative available to them, the council will continue to work with the individual to find the appropriate support service to assist them.
Since the government made the announcement last month that people would no longer be advised to shield from 1 August, staff and volunteers have been busy contacting those affected to discuss their ongoing support needs and preparations.
Council leader Dave Stewart said:
"Many of these people may be known to us, as neighbours, friends and family and will need all our support to regain confidence as they transition back to a greater level of independency.
"Many will have been shielding for some four months without close contact with friends and family — so it will be a big step.
"We are continuing our support for anyone who is stopping shielding in the coming weeks. Do get in touch with us if you need help with arranging food shopping, prescription collections or if you are feeling anxious, and we will endeavour to help."
Councillor Stewart said the council was committed to retaining its helpline — (01983) 823600 — for the immediate future and would still be offering support in all forms while people readjust to the changes.
Just over 550 emergency food parcels have been delivered to vulnerable Islanders during the pandemic, as well as the regular shopping arrangements that have been put in place with the assistance of local community groups and volunteers.
More than 730 welfare checks have been undertaken to ensure people are safe and, in total, 23,237 'check-in' calls to people to provide them with regular contact and to check on their needs.
The support is greatly appreciated as evidenced in hundreds of heartfelt messages of thanks and gratitude that inundate the service each week.
However, with the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, the council will need to review the current emergency response provisions — but with the ability to step up should a second wave occur.
Councillor Stewart added:
"Throughout the crisis, our fantastic community hubs and teams have worked hard to help vulnerable residents with shopping, delivering medication and providing regular 'check-in' calls.
"Alongside our health and care colleagues, the community teams — who are both volunteers and redeployed council staff — have played a critical role.
"Our teams will be helping people get back out in their community and we still have hundreds of wonderful volunteers who are willing to help where there is a need.
"Together we can ensure those most in need continue to get the support they require."