An award-winning social enterprise with a focus on preventing social isolation among the elderly and vulnerable throughout Warwickshire and Coventry is developing a stronger voice to help all ages.
Appoint Us, a community interest company based at the Rural Innovation Centre at Stoneleigh Park, has been providing a wide range of support to the elderly and vulnerable for over five years to enhance the lives of those in need.
Part of that work has included music sessions delivered by its creative therapy team, and that service is now in demand by communities right across the area.
The service had to be adapted due to social distancing, with singalongs being performed outside instead of inside homes and as a result, enjoyed by whole streets who are now asking for repeat performances to lift collective spirits.
Julie Earls, director of Appoint Us, said: “We have now been approached by people asking if we will join in their street’s Clap For Our Carers with a singalong.
“It’s something we do normally all year round to bring a bit of joy into people’s lives but now there is a whole world out there that needs uplifting.”
Although the services it provides are of even greater need during the current crisis, Appoint Us has been restricted due to social distancing and its income which is all generated back into the community has been severely hit resulting in 13 staff being reduced to three.
It is now concentrating on three core services – prevention of social isolation, singing at social distance, and shopping for the elderly and vulnerable as well as continuing to provide services such as getting hot meals to existing customers and considering new ones for the service – and for the first time, is having to seek grant aid.
Julie approached the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP Growth Hub for help in accessing a government business interruption loan and, as a result of enquiries to Warwick District Council, is being issued a £10,000 grant.
She said: “We have never ever had to rely on funding as we have always been self-reliant but we can’t be because of the current situation. The £10,000 grant is crucial in enabling us to carry on our work and retain staff, including our singer.
“The shopping service that we provide, such as for sheltered accommodation complexes across Coventry and Warwickshire, is more important than ever and it’s important to keep getting the message across to the elderly that they need to stay at home and be safe.
“We are committed to using profits and income to create benefits for society and by purchasing a service from us, people are helping to give back to the local community as well.”
The company’s staff, who are enhanced-DBS checked and insured, collect shopping from ‘click and collect’ supermarkets or Farmers Fayre, a farm shop also based at Stoneleigh Park which is now offering a contactless drive thorough service for groceries ordered online. They also offer a shopping and delivery service where staff will shop at certain supermarkets from the customer’s own list and deliver it to the door.
Mark Ryder, Strategic Director for Communities at Warwickshire County Council, said: “Appoint Us provides important services to the elderly and vulnerable at all times and is working hard to adapt to the challenges of Coronavirus.
“Its current focus in preventing social isolation and shopping is more important than ever and it is fantastic that the wider community is now calling on its services to help others through this difficult time and show their appreciation for the NHS and key workers.
“We are pleased to have been able to help Appoint Us access the government grant to support its work in these unprecedented times.”
Caption: Julie Earls, director of Appoint Us.