East Riding Libraries' 'At Home' Service normally delivers books to isolated and vulnerable housebound customers, who are unable to visit a library in person, and have no other help to collect and return books.
At the start of lockdown, the 'At Home' team contacted all these customers to inform them that the service would have to be suspended until further notice - during these calls, it became clear that customers might benefit from ongoing support and information, and a programme of regular contact was created.
This customer support programme included contacting customers to inform them of services available through the Community Response Hubs; identifying urgent needs; and providing regular support to those who felt isolated and would benefit from regular communication.
The calls were made by Chris Browning, from the 'At Home' service. Chris says:
"Every person I have spoken to was grateful that we, East Riding Libraries, had thought about them and taken the time to give them a call. Many were delighted, as they felt isolated and said my call had 'made their day' and it was 'so kind of you to bother to call me'.
"Throughout the conversations, I assessed whether I thought I needed to call them again. For some it was just a very short conversation, and it was clear they would not need further contact, but I always asked the question, 'Would you like me to give you a call next week or in a couple of weeks?'. The majority have said yes, and by gauging their level of social isolation, I suggested a weekly or fortnightly call."
"All the 'At Home' service customers have been heartened to know that we haven't just 'shut up shop' and forgotten about them. They are genuinely touched that we have taken the time to pick up the phone to ask them if they are managing and just have a chat with them. They have all been delighted to hear a friendly voice and just know they have not been forgotten."
Some of the comments and feedback received included:
One customer hadn't been able to get the sound to work on her TV for two weeks. I researched the problem with the TV and talked her through the process - all now fixed and working and the customer was very grateful.
'I look forward to your calls, you always make me laugh'.
'Thank you for calling, you've brightened my day up'.
'I miss having people to talk to, so it's lovely that you take time to ring and have a chat. I feel very fortunate that everyone is so thoughtful'.
John Skidmore, director of adults, health and Customer Services, said: "This is another great example of our staff who have gone way above and beyond in recent times to look after the most vulnerable members of our East Riding community, and I am delighted that we were able to keep in contact with our customers in this way."
The 'At Home' service restarted on 6 July, and the team have received some lovely feedback from their customers in the last few weeks:
"Even though we can't actually see you now in person, we do either shout through the door or wave at our window - you are someone we look forward to seeing and who notices if we are OK."
"We really enjoy the contact from someone who isn't a carer and who we could chat to"
"It meant so much to me that you kept in touch during Lockdown. I've missed my books so much, so pleased you are back".
"You are a life line to people who can't get out"
If any East Riding resident thinks they may know someone who would qualify for the East Riding Libraries 'At Home' service, or to find out more information, e-mail: Mobile.Library@eastriding.gov.uk or ring on (01482) 392746
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