STAFF at a Wombwell medical centre launched a mental health and wellbeing initiative to help their most vulnerable patients through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ‘Sunshine Project’ was set up by staff at Chapelfield Medical Centre, on Mayflower Way, to provide vulnerable and shielding patients with access to fresh fruit and links into local health and care services.

Practice manager Vicky Pugh said: “When speaking to our shielding or vulnerable and elderly patients, it became apparent that many are lonely, suffering from low mood and anxiety due to worry over the pandemic. Many were not going out, not seeing others and were isolated.

“I wanted to do something for our patients to ‘brighten their day’ so I came up with an idea of the ‘Sunshine Project.’

“The practice wanted to let our patients know that we and other organisations are here for them, just a call away, so we put together a box of fruit items and included lots of information about other local services including i-Heart Barnsley, NHS 111, Samaritans, local pharmacies, and contacts for delivery of prescriptions and shopping delivery services.”

Staff have also delivered food donated from Tesco and Morrisons and the boxes were delivered out of work hours to people in need.

“It has been really moving to see how grateful our patients have been,” added Vicky. “We have had many phone calls of gratitude and thank you cards. It’s really warming to know that we are making a huge difference to people and helping them through these challenging times.

“Patients can be any age, but a high number are elderly and are living alone.

“We want to try and reach more of our most vulnerable patients to help them too, so we are working with the practice’s patient participation group and asking more of our patients who would like help from the ‘Sunshine Project’ to come forward.”