I’d have to survive on chocolate bars if not for volunteers

Stephen Thomson says he'd have to survive on chocolate without the aid of volunteers during the coronavirus outbreak.

A severely disabled man says he would have to survive on chocolate bars if it was not for the generosity of volunteers helping those most in need during the coronavirus crisis.

Stephen Thomson, from Easter Ross in the Highlands, has paid tribute to the local heroes as people across Scotland heed the advice to stay at home to help contain Covid-19.

For vulnerable people, getting out and about at the best of times is a challenge but many now depend on visits from volunteers to supply them with basic requirements.

Mr Thomson, 35, is bed-bound and needs help to wash and dress. As a result of the UK-wide restrictions on movement friends and family cannot safely visit him.

‘What they’ve been doing is coming in and they’ve been a godsend because they’ve been giving me warm meals and I can actually get proper hot food. If it wasn’t for that I would have to survive on chocolate.’

Stephen Thomson
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Mr Thomson said: “What they’ve been doing is coming in and they’ve been a godsend because they’ve been giving me warm meals and I can actually get proper hot food. If it wasn’t for that I would have to survive on chocolate.

“I have been on the list for carers, I have phoned for support and been told ‘we will put you on the waiting list’.

“It’s a very trapped existence. I used to like getting out and taking photographs of the trees – and watch the world go by.

‘I am trapped in these four walls. Sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in.’

Stephen Thomson

“Now I am trapped in these four walls. Sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in.”

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Tina McCaffrey, a coordinator with a local Covid-19 support group, said: “There is a very desperate need in the community right now.

“It’s probably always been there but never been as evident because the elderly and the vulnerable, like Stephen, are isolated.

“They cannot get out and even their families can’t get out to see them.

“The only people that can are the volunteers because we’ve all got PVG (protecting vulnerable groups) checks.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: “Major efforts are being made to source and deploy staff to meet peoples’ needs at a time when we are seeing unprecedented limitations on the availability of people to provide care.

“The people of the Highlands can remain assured that we are doing everything that we can to provide as much care as possible to those who need it in the face of the current crisis.

“However, we cannot understate the challenges of providing care at the current time.”

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