Hundreds of people have come forward to be trained as social care workers and volunteers as demand for council services rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local authorities have been calling on members of the public to help deliver care to thousands of elderly and vulnerable residents, including those who are shielding at home due to the coronavirus.
Staffordshire County Council has now revealed that in less than a week more than 360 people have signed up to its iCare scheme, which is aiming to train up as many voluntary care workers as possible to help meet demand.
The personal carers are needed to help vulnerable residents with washing and dressing, taking medication and cooking meals.
People who sign up to iCare – who will be DBS checked – will also receive support to access paid-for roles in the care sector.
It comes as Stoke-on-Trent City Council has so far had 22 applications for casual home care worker roles, following the launch of its Stoke Cares campaign last week. The authority has also moved 107 workers to care roles from different council services.
Both authorities say they are keen to sign up even more people, as the pandemic tightens its grip on the area.
Kate Bullivant, who normally manages complaints and information at the county council, is among those who have switched to a personal care role.
She said: “I wanted to volunteer to make a difference, because there are so many vulnerable people who need support to keep them safe and well. I’m normally desk-based, so getting out of the office is quite daunting, but I’ve had the training and everything I need to be able to help these people.
“We need to step up to the plate and help people in times of crisis. We’re all in this together.”
Council leaders say increased numbers of carers will help keep people out of hospital and reduce the strain on the NHS.
Councillor Alan White, county council cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing, said: “We’ve had an amazing response to our iCare campaign and we thank everyone who has stepped up so far. But for us to ensure we can care for the most vulnerable in our communities, we still need more people who are willing to step up and provide personal care to them. They rely on our care workers to give them the support they need, so the more people we can get trained up to provide this care, the better equipped we will be if the coronavirus outbreak worsens.
“So please if you can, sign up to iCare – these people are counting on us.”
The city council is creating a new bank of casual workers to help meet demand for home care. Council chiefs were initially aiming to sign up 40 people – and are now more than halfway towards that target.
StokeonTrentLive has created a dedicated group on Facebook for COVID 19 (coronavirus) updates. Join for sensible, accurate and informed updates – click here.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We have now received 22 applications. In addition to this, we have been training up other council workers as personal carers.”
The city council is also working with voluntary organisations on the Stoke-on-Trent Together campaign, which is building an army of volunteers to support vulnerable residents with tasks such as collecting prescriptions or walking dogs. The scheme is now receiving up to 200 calls a day from residents.
Mrs Brown added: “At the moment we are able to meet that demand, but we would like to sign up even more volunteers in case more help is needed in the future.”