Help is at hand for people in North Devon who have recently been identified as being at increased risk of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus.

The government has recently written to an extra 965 people in North Devon advising them that research shows that they are at higher risk than previously thought.

If they need extra support because of this, they are being asked in the first instance to be self sufficient and seek help from family, friends and neighbours. If this isn't possible, then there is community help available.

Working alongside local community support organisation One Northern Devon and town and parish councils, NDC is helping to co-ordinate a range of services for those most in need. This includes:

• helping people to register on the government website
• help with grocery orders and deliveries
• collection and delivery of medication
• transport to medical and hospital appointments
• financial support for those in serious hardship
• friendly ear phonecalls to ease social isolation

To access these services, people have to first register on the government's shielding website which allows them to access priority supermarket slots and help from the council. Once registered, they can call NDC on 01271 388280 or go online at my.northdevon.gov.uk/service/Request_for_assistance.

The council is also urging people to ensure they don’t leave requests until the last minute and to give them at least two working days’ notice because the service relies on volunteers and so cannot react any more quickly than that.

The support service is available Monday-Friday during normal working hours.

Leader of North Devon Council Cllr David Worden says: "We know that most people can be supported by friends and family but we just want to make sure that people know we are here to help if they have nobody else. Even if we can't help with a particular issue, we will always try and signpost people to someone who can."

One of the main reasons this group of people has been identified is to ensure that they get their Covid vaccinations as early as possible and so they can expect to hear about appointments imminently from the NHS, if they haven't heard already.

More information on the help and support available from the council is at www.northdevon.gov.uk/coronavirus/communities-and-voluntary-sector-support