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County Durham's COVID-19 recovery battle: research calls on services to take action 

As the world grapples with the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, County Durham emerges as yet another community facing the long road to recovery. A recent piece of work from the Pioneering Care Partnership’s (PCP) research team has shed light on the impacts of the pandemic on individuals' lives and the pressing need for continued support and community recovery efforts. 


The findings of this study align with the broader understanding of COVID-19's effects and the strides being made in pandemic recovery efforts. It is evident that County Durham shares in the recovery struggles witnessed across the UK. The resilience of its people has been tested, with many still grappling with the lingering effects of Long-COVID, significantly impacting their quality of life. 


Emma Lip, Research Officer at PCP, said: “Key takeaways from the study highlight the profound social, psychological, and economic impacts of the pandemic. Individuals have faced challenges such as loneliness, anxiety, disruptions in work, employment, or education, and ongoing difficulties in accessing essential healthcare services. 


“One comment from an individual encapsulates the challenges faced: ‘The pandemic had led me to definitely drink more and still reluctant to go out at times.’” 


Despite these ongoing struggles, there is a glimmer of hope as individuals recognise and appreciate the support systems available for pandemic recovery. Emma added: “Mental health support, practical assistance with finances, housing, and employment, financial aid, bereavement support, peer support networks, one-to-one assistance, befriending initiatives, and specialised Long-COVID support have been identified as crucial pillars in the journey towards healing. 


“However, it is evident that the journey is far from over. The County Durham community continues to grapple with the aftermath of the pandemic, with a persistent need for robust community recovery efforts. The strain on NHS and GP services remains, underpinning the vital role of the voluntary sector in providing essential support within the community.” 


One service making a difference for the people it supports and becoming a beacon of hope for many is the County Durham Resilience service. Supporting communities’ mental wellbeing, Donna Sheavills, Project Lead of the County Durham Resilience service, said: “Since launching in 2021, the service has supported 1,619 people, with many local organisations also referring people to our service to ensure they are able to access the right support. 


“Despite the pandemic being over, the impact is still very much among us – with the people we support echoing findings in this report. I urge anyone who may be affected by the pandemic or COVID-19 in County Durham to get in touch – we are able to support anyone age 18 and over who many feel lonely and isolated, and have experienced mental health difficulties, which includes those impacted by COVID.” 


Contact research@pcp.uk.net for more information and enquiries on the report.  


You can contact the County Durham Resilience service on resilience@pcp.uk.net 


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