For, some of the proactive pharmacy network are now attaching details of the city’s free cost of living advice line to each made up prescription leaving the shops, so that anyone who needs to get help with bills, food, debt or heating can access the free advice line run by Manchester City Council.
Plus, the home delivery vans that drop off prescriptions are also giving out leaflets from the council that tell people where they can go to stay warm, get a free hot drink, and connect with other people.
Manchester pharmacist Maneet Kapoor, of Kapoor Pharmacy Services, who helped to pilot the scheme in the city, said:
“Pharmacies are often the hub and a connecting point for people. Nearly all of us have prescriptions made up or dropped off at our homes – it’s such an effective way of getting help straight to people and often into the homes of people who are less mobile, or perhaps have a range of medical conditions.”
Since the pilot started at KPS pharmacy chain, 500 leaflets have been given out and now more pharmacies across city are being urged to join the scheme.
Cllr Joanna Midgley, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said:
“We welcome community backing that means we can connect directly with anyone who may be facing hardship this winter. In Manchester, we don’t want anyone to suffer in silence or feel like problems are escalating. The team working on the advice line really want to help and will treat people with care and respect.”
Cllr Thomas Robinson, Executive Member for Healthy Manchester and Social Care, at Manchester City Council, added:
“This is why we never separate social or wellbeing issues because they can all have an effect on a person’s mental or physical health.”
The advice line number is free to call on 0800 023 2692, or people can text it on 07860 022 876.
Each day the advice line takes around 23 calls, which can often be complex in nature, but the team is able to help unpick all the issues and refer the caller there and then to the right service. Since the advice line started in October 3, last year it has taken almost 7,000 calls. The most common reasons for ringing benefits queries or for help with rent, which account for almost a third of the calls (30.4%). Referrals for food support is one of the most common outcomes (24.6%), along with financial advice and support with bills or benefits questions.
Manchester’s Community Food Response team then ensure there is good, low-cost provision across the city, including via food banks. The team also stores ambient food stock for the support organisations and supply chains it connects to. Since this storage facility started in December last year the team has worked with more than 60 food providers, through more than 750 appointments or visits and has distributed the equivalent of around 900,000 meals to food providers in the city. They have also distributed donated toiletries, hygiene products and healthy start vitamins, to food support providers from this site.
Additionally, the city is also promoting its warm welcome spaces – these are places like libraries or other facilities where people can go to meet other people and also get a free hot drink.
Last winter around 800,000 people visited these designated warm spaces in the city, where around 50,000 people also had a free hot drink. For more information go to: warmwelcome.uk or manchester.gov.uk/helpinghands.