TEAM EFFORT: Andrea Hobbs, strategic manager of Teesdale Day Clubs
TEAM EFFORT: Andrea Hobbs, strategic manager of Teesdale Day Clubs

THE scale of support offered to the dale’s elderly and isolated by staff at the Association of Teesdale Day Clubs was outlined at the group’s annual meeting.
Since the association’s popular lunch club meetings were suspended in March last year, almost 7,500 phone calls were made to members to check on their welfare.
In addition, 1,362 calls were made to the volunteers who help to run the lunch clubs and 133 “doorstep and drop” visits were made to members who needed urgent shopping or someone to talk to.
On top of this, club and community services manager Madeleine Walton provided extra support to hundreds of people and their families.
Strategic manager Andrea Hobbs said: “Collectively, the whole team did a phenomenal job.
“More than 60 per cent of members live on their own and it’s been an extremely challenging year.”
In place of the weekly lunch clubs, a newsletter was launched and in December, Christmas hampers were delivered to members.
Ms Walton told the meeting: “What a year this has been – none of us thought last year that we would be in this position this year.
“The roll-out of the vaccine definitely holds some hope for the future and the trustees and staff are committed to enabling us to meet up in groups as soon as we can safely do so.”
Ms Walton said the contact between staff and members had been “vital”.
Details highlighted at the meeting showed how Ms Walton had contacted an average of 70 people a month to check on their wellbeing.
She had helped 73 people cope with the difficulties of living alone during the pandemic and come to the aid of another 100 who required emotional support.
Ms Walton had also helped almost 200 people who were suffering with loneliness and isolation and on 24 occasions had liaised with members’ families.
Ms Hobbs said: “There has been a phenomenal amount of work all happening invisibly this year that has made a massive difference, including 708 individual interventions made by Madeleine.
“It has been fantastic work by the whole team.”
Ms Walton added: “We may have a new ‘normal’ but we will start to run our clubs as soon as we can, benefitting members, staff and volunteers, all of whom have missed their weekly contact.
“My message is please don’t despair. In the words of The Terminator, we’ll be back.”
Outgoing chairman Peter Wood said the association’s work had been recognised further afield, most notably by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham Sue Snowdon.
Three members of staff who left the association – Diana Wilkes, Barbara Thompson and Mick Carr – were thanked for their hard work and commitment and it was noted that Mr Carr will continue as editor of the day clubs’ newsletter.