Fire Service staff volunteer to phone vulnerable people in isolation
During the pandemic, several members of staff from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service have been volunteering their time to call elderly and vulnerable people who have been shielding or isolated.
Through Community 360, a Colchester based charity that helps to Improve people’s lives in North Essex, a number of fire service staff have volunteered their time as part of the charity’s Befriending scheme.
Lisa Mitson, Community Safety Officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has volunteered her time every week since the first lockdown, helping to move hospital equipment in Brentwood and when the fire service was approached by Community 360 for any willing volunteers, several people including Lisa were more than happy to help.
Since May last year, Lisa has volunteered around 90 hours with the Befriending scheme, including on Christmas Day and while she was on holiday in Cornwall.
Lisa said: “It’s very rewarding, I have five friends that I call at a set time each week and they’re all elderly and isolated people that have been shielding on their own.
“It’s a lifeline for them when I call and when I found out one of my friends would be alone on Christmas Day, I made sure to call and check in with her. I’ve had lots of nice experiences while phoning my friends because I’ve got to know them. I’ve formed a close friendship with one particular client and we will carry on being friends when the world opens up a bit more and starts to return to normal.”
Calls are scheduled for the same time each week and Lisa fits her calls into her busy day job and personal life, often leaving early for appointments so can drive to where she needs to be to fit a phone call in first. She then reports back to Community 360 with any welfare concerns for her friends.
On one occasion, Lisa couldn’t get hold of one of her friends which was concerning and Lisa promptly called Community 360 to report it who visited the woman’s address.
Sadly, the woman had fallen in her home and passed away.
Since volunteering with the charity, two of Lisa’s friends have passed away. She said: “It’s really sad as you start to build a good rapport with each other and build a relationship.”
This week, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is celebrating Volunteers Week. If you would like to register your interest to volunteer with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service visit: www.essex-fire.gov.uk/Volunteering/
Page last updated 4 June, 2021