WHILE most people will be enjoying the festive season with friends and family, members of Taunton Deane’s “emergency service” will be helping the elderly and those with health issues to have a safe Christmas.

Staff from Taunton Deane Council’s Deane Helpline service are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The helpline is available to anyone of any age and is intended to help people live independently in their own homes.

Most customers are of retirement age or older but the service is also open to those who live alone or people who have health issues.

Last year the service handled more than 8000 calls between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, while the team called for emergency services more than 50 times. Some 49 customers fell and needed assistance; around three quarters of these were uninjured and the Emergency Response Team helped them, with the remainder requiring paramedics.

The team also called their clients’ doctors 19 times, more often than not to arrange a visit at their homes for non-emergency treatment.

The Deane Helpline also provides support to other local authorities and last year made more than 500 extra contact calls to ensure the well-being of their oldest and most vulnerable residents while their offices were closed.

Cllr Jean Adkins, executive councillor for housing services, said: “Our Helpline staff really go the extra mile and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them. It is reassuring for people to know that they are there to help every day and every night throughout the year.”

If you think you, or somebody you know, would benefit from the Deane Helpline, phone 01823-257185.