PEOPLE affected by the coronavirus crisis can put their minds at ease speaking to faith representatives in Somerset via a dedicated phone line.

The Faith Communities Major Emergencies Team for Avon and Somerset provides face-to-face pastoral and spiritual care in times of emergency

It has been adapted as a direct dial phone line during the current situation.

Organising team member the Rev Adrian Prior-Sankey said: "Although open to anyone to talk about anything, this faith-based service is especially helpful for anyone facing end of life issues, bereavement or who is anxious about someone in hospital, residential care or isolated at home.

"Their concern could be for a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour, or someone they have been caring for through their work."

The initiative offers a listening ear to:

•those anxious about seriously ill relatives, especially if there is no option of visiting them in person;

•people unable to see the body of a loved one after death or unable to attend a funeral;

•key workers affected by work-related issues, perhaps overwhelmed by what they are facing or dealing with;

•the 'worried well' and anyone else anxious about the effects of COVID-19 on their lives.

To access the service, call 0330 2291700 from 8am to 11pm seven days a week.

This service is open to everyone of any faith and none.

•It is rooted in the inclusive ethos of the Christian and other major faiths. The majority of volunteers are Christians but able to refer on to representatives of other faiths.

•It offers compassionate listening and, if requested, prayer.

•The volunteers are experienced people including clergy and those with roles in pastoral support and chaplaincy.

•There is a policy of confidentiality, under the safeguarding and monitoring framework of the Church of England. The host partner is the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

•It cannot offer long-term bereavement care or counselling, though it can signpost to organisations which offer specialist help.