Dubai: Solly Wolf, 71, a British expatriate living in Dubai, was pleasantly surprised when he got a call from the Dubai Police early one April morning.
“I am retired and live alone. Until the call, I had been at my wit’s end trying to figure out ways to replenish my fast depleting medicines during the COVID-19 stay-in. I take nearly 16 medications, some of them very expensive. I take injections worth Dh700 as I suffer from a variety of ailments. I was afraid to go to my doctor as I did not want to risk any exposure. The police traced my number and politely asked me if I needed anything. When I told them about my medicines, they took down my list and dropped me a month of supplies absolutely free-of-charge," said Wolf.
He said, "I was so pleasantly surprised that the Dubai Police and the Community Development Authority (CDA) thought of helping out seniors like me in this time of crisis,” said Wolf who has chosen to live in the UAE even after retiring from business.
Jashmid Rohrowan, 61 and his wife, both Iranian expatriates, were stuck without groceries when the movement restrictions were announced.
“My niece told me about the Secure Together initiative, I called them and they dropped a lot of grocery supplies – vegetables, rice, pasta, flour…. to last us for a few weeks,” said Rohrowan, who recently retired from the Dubai Ambulance Corporation Services (DCAS).
“The supplies helped us tide over the initial crisis as we live alone. Later, my daughter who is married here, was able to organise regular supplies for us. But that gesture was really very helpful for us,” added Rohrowan.
Going beyond the purview of law and order, on March 30, Dubai Police in conjunction with the CDA launched the Secure Together campaign to reach out to the elderly, special needs and destitute people in these difficult times of dealing with the pandemic.
The programme, which was initially aimed at helping out members of the Emirati community, was extended to senior expatriate residents as well. Many of the seniors living alone were unprepared for the movement restrictions and social distancing in public places such as supermarkets or pharmacies. Many were finding it difficult to replenish supplies. But thanks to the campaign, most of them received the help they wanted on their doorstep.
Kinds of support
The campaign has been so successful that until May 13, 9,532 seniors were helped. Of these, 5,642 were expatriate residents above 60 and 3,890 were Emiratis. Help provided included supplying food, groceries, medicines, hand santisers, extending psychological support and even taking some citizens for COVID-19 testing.
Commenting on the success of the ongoing initiative, Colonel Turki Abdurrahman bin Faris, Director of Command and Control Centre at the General Department of Operations in Dubai Police, said “Secure Together” is an implementation of the directives of Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, the Commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, who directed the force to provide full care to senior citizens and residents in Dubai as part of the efforts to support the nationwide campaign #stayhome.”
Colonel bin Faris added that in his capacity as the Commissioner-General of the Citizen Services Sector, Lt Gen Al Marri had ordered the formation of a cross-functional team representing both Dubai Police and the CDA to oversee and prioritise requests and calls made by seniors to the command and control centre at the Dubai Police.
Database of the elderly
He further remarked that the Dubai Police has been developing an updated database of places of the elderly to enhance the authorities in urgent requests or emergencies, as well as providing them with moral support and genuine care.
Commenting on the humanitarian collaboration, Huraiz Al Mur Bin Huraiz, CEO of the Social Care and Development Sector, CDA, said: “To date, the Secure Together campaign has received overwhelming response, attracting key contributions from both the public and private sectors. The positive reception that it has been getting demonstrates the solidarity and unity of the UAE community, especially in facing the extraordinary situation that the whole world is currently experiencing.”
How to register and seek assistance
Huraiz said: “The campaign serves as a reminder of our long-standing commitment to the elderly members of the community; watching out for their safety, protection and being able to help them with material and in-kind contributions or by volunteering to help in the relief efforts.”
Members of the elderly community can register for this service by visiting the Dubai Police website, http://www.dubaipolice.gov.ae or by calling the CDA hotline number at 8002121, which is available 24/7 and ready to address any concerns immediately.