Friendly calls offer reassurance on the doorstep

As winter draws in, a familiar face on the doorstep checking you’re all right is providing welcome reassurance for older people in the Whitby, Sleights and Goathland areas.

Postman Christian Elcoate checks in on Safe and Connected customer Brenda Simpson

The Safe and Connected trial sees Royal Mail postmen and postwomen call on people on their rounds. The responses to the questions they ask are passed back to North Yorkshire County Council’s Living Well team to assist as necessary.

Among the first people to sign up to the trial was Brenda Simpson, 76, from Whitby. She says: “My daughter saw the scheme on Facebook and she thought it would give her and I peace of mind if I should fall.

“I think it is absolutely brilliant. It is reassuring to know the postman is going to call twice a week on days agreeable to both of us to check up to see if I am well and if there’s anything I need help with.

“A lot of people find it difficult to ask for help, but this scheme is so good. To anyone thinking of it, I’d say don’t hesitate, get involved.”

Anyone aged 65 or over who is feeling lonely or isolated can join the trial. They just need to contact Living Well co-ordinator Louise Partlett on 01609 532962 or at Louise.Partlett@northyorks.gov.uk.

When the postman or postwoman from the Whitby delivery office calls, they ask about the person’s health and happiness, whether they have had difficulty taking part in social activities, had problems with anyone bothering them or would like to speak to someone from the Living Well team about anything they need help with or that is worrying them.

Royal Mail postman Christian Elcoate, who visits several people on his round, said: “When we arrive on the doorstep, we check to see if the client is OK in their home and if there is anything they need. We ensure that people are safe at home and have someone to speak to at least twice a week. We get a lot of positive feedback from the reassurance we give to our customers through Safe and Connected.”

Often people don’t need further support, but if they do a member of the Living Well team will call or visit to talk about their concerns and discuss what support is required. Many customers have already received advice, reassurance and help with GP appointments, practical tasks and connections to local voluntary services. 

“In winter, people can feel more isolated and alone,” said County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health. “Safe and Connected can reassure individuals and their families that someone is looking out for them. It’s about offering a helping hand to people who live independently but would benefit from someone checking up on them regularly, and it’s your postman, who is probably already familiar to you.

“Safe and Connected fits well with our Living Well team, which works with people to prevent them becoming isolated, help them to improve their health and to develop their interests. Loneliness and isolation can take their toll on people’s wellbeing. Safe and Connected offers a chance to address these issues early. I urge anyone who feels they, or someone they know, may benefit, to register.”

County Councillor David Chance, member for Whitby Mayfield cum Mulgrave and Executive Member for Stronger Communities, added: “North Yorkshire people are known for their neighbourliness. This trial taps into that and builds on it. Everyone has a role to play as a good neighbour, whether individually or, as in this case, as organisations like the County Council and Royal Mail.”

The trial, which will run until March, is funded by the Home Office and is running in three locations, the others being parts of Liverpool and New Malden in Kingston-upon-Thames. The trial is based on the Call and Check scheme operated in Jersey.

This story was published 10 December 2018