Hundreds volunteer to help their neighbours

(Last Updated On: April 7, 2020)

More than 3,000 calls have now been made to helplines set up in Torbay to put people in need of help during the coronavirus crisis in touch with those offering help.

Calls have been flooding into a virtual call centre set up by Torbay Community Development Trust and Brixham Does (BDC) from people needing help with their shopping, collecting prescriptions or simply for non-medical advice.

Telephone lines were extended from five to ten as the call load exceeded 60 per hour and are now staffed by a minimum of six people 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Each call for help is graded as it comes in as immediate(black), within 24-48 hours (red), within seven days (amber) and over a week (green).

The colour coding allows, staff from several groups, including TCDT, Age UK Torbay, Healthwatch Torbay alongside volunteers to target the most urgent – those who have run out of food or in need of life-saving medications.

So far the teams of volunteers and community builders have responded to around 800 requests for help and nearly 1000 people have offered help and a matching service is working behind the scenes to put the most suitable candidates together.

In Brixham, more than 600 people have been supported either physically or on the phone and around 50 volunteers have so far been identified.

Emma Barton, director of BDC, said: “Everybody is working incredibly hard – there are so many unsung heroes in the voluntary sector providing care for people across the Bay.”

A consortium of fourteen organisations has also come together to the run the food banks across the Bay and coordinate sourcing food and cooked meals.

Information about food availability, who is delivering and opening hours along with details of the food banks has also been posted on the website.

Additionally, neighbours are being urged to self-organise to help each other and to help TCDT have a form online at where people can register.

To ask for help or to offer help you can ring 01803 446022 or 01803 857727 (BDC) between 8 am and 8 pm seven days a week or go online to:


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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!