Something rather momentous happened in our town in the strange lull between Christmas and New Year. Last Tuesday 29 December, the launch of the local Covid vaccination programme started and over 3 days, 1000 people quietly, methodically and stoically turned up at Shape Mendip and calmly had ‘the jab’. Now we are back in a national lockdown, it’s worth remembering that the solution is not just a newspaper headline or a radio news story but actually here, now, in our town. Well done to the local GP surgeries for coordinating it and to all the volunteers who gave up their time to help with the marshalling.

I was going to use this opportunity to focus on some of the many positive projects the Town Council has in the pipeline for 2021; many carried over from last year due to the pandemic. However, with the latest news that we are back into a national lockdown, I’m instead going to remind ourselves of the immediate support that is here. The organisations listed below are useful if you really don’t know where to turn or need new advice but do remember that when the first lockdown happened 9 months ago, neighbourly support networks sprung up across our town. If you haven’t needed to speak to someone recently, it doesn’t mean the support’s not there. Try your friends and neighbours; it’s amazing what people close to you can do for you!

Local Council Support
The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number makes it easy for people to access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, in the current crisis. It links together the district and county council contact centres and will be operating seven days a week, 8am to 6pm, making it the one number you need to remember for Coronavirus-related enquiries. The town, district and county councils usual phone numbers will be running as normal alongside the new number for non-Coronavirus related issues
0300 790 6275

Spark Somerset
Supporting Covid groups, volunteers and communities throughout Somerset

Citizen’s Advice
If you are in financial crisis they can help with food bank vouchers, Universal Credit, grants and more
0808 2082138 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm)

Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems
0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35
0800 58 58 58 (every day, 5pm to 12am)

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair
116 123 (24-hour)

Young suicide prevention society
0800 068 4141 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm, and 2pm to 5pm on weekends)

Advice on dealing with domestic violence
0808 2000 247 (24-hour)

A free confidential helpline for people worried about their own or someone else’s drinking
0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm)

Gamblers Anonymous
A free self-help group, for online support with gambling issues
0330 094 0322 (24-hour)

Have a safe New Year.

Matt Harrison, Chairperson

Shepton Mallet Town Council