Jack Brooke-Battersby
By Jack Brooke-Battersby

Senior Staff Writer

24 March 2020

| | 4 min read


Council launches coronavirus support service – Citylife Line

A new service that harnesses the outpouring of goodwill from residents in Newcastle has been established to ensure residents in need get the help they need during the coronavirus outbreak.

Citylife Line
Citylife Line

Citylife Line has been set up for people wanting to volunteer their time while also providing a service for people to register their need for assistance.

It has launched today (Tuesday March 24) with a webform at www.newcastle.gov.uk/citylifeline for people wanting to volunteer their time to support the wide range of established community organisations across the City or offer another type of support service to the City. 

At first we are registering people who wish to offer support.  We may not need this help immediately but we are wanting to build up a list of those who may wish to offer their time and skills.

Later this week, people will then be able to get in touch to let Newcastle City Council know they need assistance. A telephone number will also soon be released for the service.

Volunteers will only be assigned to make essential journeys where travel is needed in light of the strict social distancing measures introduce by the Prime Minster on Monday night.

Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said “The community spirit, offers of support and gestures of goodwill already displayed across Newcastle have been fantastic, a true testament to our Geordie grit and our safe, caring city.  

“Citylife Line will give us the ability to coordinate these responses and harness this goodwill in the right way. It will allow us to identify the most vulnerable people in our city, making sure that anyone who requires help and support get this quickly and securely.  

“Council officers and partners in the voluntary and community sector have worked tirelessly to establish this service, it has taken a huge effort to get this off the ground so please bear with us whilst we work through any teething problems. We will protect the vulnerable and we will ensure those offering to volunteer can do so in the correct, safe way.

“I would reiterate again to our city how vital it is we all follow the guidance on social distancing and to support our friends, families and neighbours. You do not need to register to carry on doing this. But by doing your bit to help the people around you the resources supporting Citylife Line can work where they are needed most.”

Digital Newcastle lead Jenny Nelson outlines how the Citylife Line will operate amid the coronavirus outbreak

Council launches Citylife Line service

Citylife Line will also help those most vulnerable residents who have been contacted by the NHS having been identified among the 1.4million individuals most susceptible to the virus. Citylife Line will prioritise those people, unless they are already being supported with a social care need, to make sure they are shielded from COVID-19.

People who pledge their support will have their contact details taken and reviewed.  If an organisation in the voluntary sector requires their support, their details will be passed to that organisation who will contact them directly if they are required. 

Lisa Goodwin, Chief Executive of Connected Voice said: “There are some brilliant voluntary and community organisations across the city who are willing to help people at this time, and who are able to accept new volunteers.

“But the situation is changing on a daily basis and people are unsure where they can go to for support, or how best to help. We hope that by linking up with Volunteer Centre Newcastle we will be able to signpost people to the help they need, and maintain a clear picture of where that help is available.”

With social distancing and isolation measures introduced by Government to help manage the spread of the disease, some people have been put at risk of being cut off and may struggle to access essential resources such as food and household items.

While a lot of people have taken to social media offering to help their communities there are a small number who inevitably will look to exploit vulnerable people including older people.

CityLife Line will introduce an element of triage and safeguarding measures to this process to minimise the risk of this sort of activity.

Keep up to date with developments in Newcastle by visiting www.newcastle.gov.uk/coronavirus

Residents are advised to follow the usual guidance on recognising and reporting suspected scams, but there are things they can do to make sure that they don't become a victim:

  • Identify who is calling by insisting on seeing and checking their identification
  • If you are suspicious or have concerns do not open your door, use a door chain or spy hole
  • Don't be rushed into agreeing to handing over money
  • Take your time to make a decision and one which is the right one for you

You can get more advice from Citizens Advice here.