EMERGENCY services are expected to tackle crime, save lives and protect the environment, however they are also often the first point of contact for vulnerable people who do not know where to go for help.

Figures released last month showed that in a three-month period in 2018, more than 1,000 emergency calls made to the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) were attributed to just 30 individuals and did not require a medical response, with the majority likely due to loneliness.

In a bid to provide a better link between emergency services and communities, the WAS, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and North Wales Police are piloting an outreach service that supports the lonely and isolated residents who make frequent calls to them.

The Community Volunteer Champion scheme, which is being tested in Denbighshire and will be rolled out across North Wales if it is successful, involves established volunteer groups who visit the homes of residents identified as repeat callers to offer reassurance and advice.

Loneliness can result in a number of physical and psychological problems including premature death, sleep problems, high blood pressure, poor quality of life, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, depression and suicide.

Jason Williams, First Responder manager at the WAS-NHS Trust, said: “Loneliness can take a heavy toll on any person and has been a growing problem in our society. However we believe we can make a real difference and help those who need us the most by putting together our expertise and experience and find new solutions to tackle this issue.”

During an engagement visit, community volunteer champions will take the time to talk to individuals in an attempt to intercept future 999 calls by undertaking a safe and well check, home security check and an assessment on the risk of the person falling in the home. The volunteers will then better understand individual issues and be able to sign post residents to relevant services, groups and clubs nearby.

The volunteers can also record useful information that could be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing through the Herbert Protocol.

Mark Owen, special constabulary chief officer, said: “This initiative will make a really positive difference to our communities. It is excellent evidence of ... a genuine One Team approach to helping our communities.”

Kevin Roberts, assistant chief fire officer, added: “By working in partnership we can help to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community, while improving their quality of life.”