A new campaign has launched from agencies across Cumbria, including Cumbria County Council, local NHS, district councils and the community and voluntary sector, to make it easier for the county's residents to find support if they are struggling with the pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
People who are struggling should go to Cumbria County Council’s website at cumbria.gov.uk to find help quickly. Organisations from across the county have contributed to the online information, which includes a new search tool, and support for people struggling to feed themselves or their families, debt and housing advice, benefits and financial grants, mental wellbeing and more. From next week, the county council will also be distributing a support booklet to every household in the county with key points of contact for people who find themselves struggling. People can be reassured that the sources of information described are legitimate and trusted.
For residents who need urgent help finding food and essential items, or if they are struggling to cope with their current situation for whatever reason, they are advised to call the county council’s Support Helpline on 0800 783 1966 (Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm, Friday 9am to 4.30pm).
Councillor Deborah Earl, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said:
“I’d urge anyone in Cumbria who is struggling to seek help sooner rather than later. We know there is a lot of help available for people who may be struggling emotionally or financially with issues caused by the pandemic. It can be overwhelming to search through what is on offer and to find what you need. To help we’re sending a booklet of useful support contacts to every household in the county in the hope it helps people who are struggling. We have also improved our website and we hope people can easily find what they need and where to get help.
“You might feel overwhelmed, scared or find yourself in a position you have never experienced before. Don’t wait for problems to get worse, there are organisations that can help. Taking the first step might be talking to someone you know and trust or it might be looking for help and contacting someone we are able to signpost you to.”
Carolyn Otley, Chair of Cumbria’s Local Community Resilience Group, said:
“There are a number of issues increasing the impact of financial hardship on some members of the community. We want people to know they are not alone, help and support is available and perhaps most important of all it is ok to not be ok.
“We want people to know there is help available, it’s ok to look for that help and it’s ok to talk to a friend or family member or to someone else about how you are feeling.
“The sources of help on the website are local and national experts. You won’t be judged, no one will criticise you, but they will be able to offer guidance and advice or even just a listening ear.”
Dr Amanda Boardman, GP Lead for mental health for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“This is unprecedented, we know people may be worried about their health and the health of their loved ones, some people may find themselves unemployed and unsure how they will cope or struggling to pay bills. It is entirely normal when big events affect your life that you feel stressed and anxious, but we can help you with information which might make you more able to cope better with those feelings.”