Guideposts in the midst of a crisis

9 April 2020

Coronavirus has changed society unbelievably quickly and it was with great sadness that we made the decision to pause all of Guideposts’ in person activities when the government stopped large gatherings.

The emergence of the word ‘social-distancing’ made our CEO, Matt, prickle. As he says, “We need to drop the word ‘social distancing’ – it’s physical distancing not social distancing. Now it the time for more phone calls, more letters, more social media to those we are supporting in our communities.”

This was a rallying cry for the Guideposts team who have been busy calling, writing and messaging those who would usually join us in person at our services. We’ve sent out activity packs (mostly Easter themed), recipes and advice on exercising at home. You can follow us on Facebook to stay up to date.

But that is not enough. Guideposts is a mental health and wellbeing charity. We work to combat loneliness and anxiety – and now more than ever that work is vital. So we are running a helpline.

The Stay Connected helpline was set up specifically to help those who are worried about self-isolation. Particularly those who aren’t online, self-isolating alone and don’t know where to get help.

Avril Ishmael is Stay Connected’s Team Leader and she explains why it’s so important and how it’s been helping people.

So what Stay Connected all about?

“The Stay Connected service is about support, conversation and making contact with people as well as about solving problems that are causing anxiety – particularly for people who are less connected online. It’s about reassuring them and letting them know they matter to people and to us.”

That’s fantastic, have you helped many people so far?

“We’ve been really pleased with the response so far. The team has been able to help people from across the country. We were contacted by a group home for people with learning disabilities because a young man there was very anxious and frightened by the COVID-19 situation. They wanted to know if we knew of a service who could talk to him. And of course at Guideposts we work with people with learning disabilities so one of our team spoke to him and will continue to talk with him whenever he needs.

“The conversation has given this man confidence. And it’s given him more context and perspective on what is happening in the world at the moment so that he can manage his anxiety a bit better.”

Amazing! Have you helped anyone practically?

“Yes! A women from Stroud who is in isolation because she has COPD and is quite elderly called. She has been left without cleaning support due to her cleaner coming down with symptoms and she didn’t know how to go about finding help herself. After the conversation she felt more confident about the situation and we found her two local companies who could offer assistance. That was a problem solved and anxiety reduced!”

You can call the Stay Connected helpline FREE on 0800 048 7035, 9:00am – 5:00pm, Monday – Friday. Or find out more on our website.

Guideposts is determined to be there for vulnerable people who need our help and support to live well in these uncertain times and would welcome any donations to help the Stay Connected service reach as many people as possible. £5 covers the cost of one phone call to the helpline, enabling a vulnerable person to access vital support and advice during self-isolation.