Coronavirus: Volunteers organise to help vulnerable

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image captionTony Panes reduced contact with other people to a minimum before government measures were brought in

Volunteers across Wales have been coming together to help those vulnerable people affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Many have taken to social media to arrange assistance for people in need and some councils are also working with residents to provide support.

Help includes shopping or dog walking.

Elsewhere, about 400 churches belonging to the Union of Welsh Independents have been urged to draw up plans to support parishioners who need it.

One person in Wales has died from coronavirus and on Monday the UK government advised against non-essential travel and told people to work from home.

People have also been told to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres if possible.

And by next weekend, those with the most serious health conditions must be "largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks".

Ivor Pike, from Port Talbot, has underlying health conditions and mobility problems.

"I've managed to get dried milk powder and UHT milk by shopping myself," the 80-year-old said.

"If I stay in, how am I going to get food? I have nobody to help me with the shopping."

He said a councillor had helped him in the past but that they were also concerned about going out.

image captionCommunity councillor Jayne Garland stressed the importance of talking to people who are isolated

Tony Panes, 77, from Rudry, Caerphilly county, is concerned because his wife has chest problems.

They are already keeping contact with others to a minimum.

"This is something that's happening and I'm afraid we are going to have to ride it out," he said.

Draethen Waterloo Rudry community councillor, Jayne Garland, said loneliness was also a key issue affecting older people.

She added: "I had an older lady phone me just for a chat mainly because she was scared.

"What we are saying is we are here if they want to talk to us."

Facebook groups have also sprouted up around the country.

'Pulling together'

One of them, Coronavirus Support Blaenau Gwent, said its page was for the "elderly and vulnerable, or people self-isolating who have no means of obtaining essentials in the Blaenau Gwent area".

And North Wales Corona Support has called for people to "pull together during a time when people may really need it".

In Bala, Gwynedd, a store called Shop Kel has been coordinating volunteers to help anyone who needs items collected.

"Everybody is pulling together trying to offer a service to those that are less fortunate," said Kelly Nicholson, who runs the shop.

image captionA fifth of the population in Wales is aged over 65

The Rev Dyfrig Rees, general secretary of the Union of Welsh Independents, said: "We're being called upon to show compassion and care for our neighbour in ways we'd never had anticipated a month or two ago.

"And our neighbour, of course, is anyone who is sick, lonely, distressed or grieving because of this terrible infection."

Councils are also joining forces with local groups to help those in need.

Penny Jones, Monmouthshire council's cabinet member for social services, said there had been a "fantastic response from local groups".

And Bridgend council leader Huw David said there was "a lot of people coming forward who want to offer their services and help in some way".

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