KEEP IN TOUCH: Anne Scott at Utass is among those at the end of the phone line
KEEP IN TOUCH: Anne Scott at Utass is among those at the end of the phone line

A SUPPORT group has been launched to provide contact and conversation for people who are struggling to cope due to the coronavirus pandemic across Teesdale and Weardale.
The Keep In Touch group, which includes staff and volunteers at Utass (Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Group), is helping people who are self-isolating and shielding to ensure there is someone to talk to and reduce feelings of loneliness.
Grace Crawford, strategic development officer at the farming charity, said: “Utass is usually, pre-Covid-19, a thriving hub for community activities. Many people who usually access activities and support at Utass could be affected by the loss of that social opportunity – that is why we feel that the Keep in Touch group is so important.
“There are many people who don’t access Utass services, who we feel may be in need of extra company at the moment as they spend more time at home, potentially on their own.
“Our friendly staff members can offer support as well as information, advice and
guidance. We have also established a group of volunteers who can help the support we offer by providing engaging conversation on a regular basis.”
She added many of the volunteers have health profession backgrounds and can provide extra emotional support and counselling.
Up to four free support sessions, by a trained health practitioner, will be available for anyone, either via the phone or online.
Ms Crawford added Utass is continuing to provide remote support to local farmers and other members, helping to navigate complex systems and paperwork. The charity is also offering support for people in the community struggling financially by helping them access funding, benefits and emergency grants and food parcels.
To speak to a member of the Utass team, phone 01833 641 010.