A STUDENT nurse who has been helping vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic has revealed how lockdown has led to her own mental health struggles.

Taylor Gilmour, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s when she was 12, told how she has felt “helpless” at times over the past year, despite taking comfort from being able to support others.

The 19-year-old Paisley woman is a volunteer at Barrhead-based charity Include Me 2 Club, which works with children, young people and adults who have additional support needs, disabilities and mental health conditions.

Taylor said: “The pandemic has meant a lot of change for everyone but especially those with additional support needs.

“There are so many people sitting at home who don’t have anyone to speak to.

“I’ve been volunteering at Include Me 2 Club for a couple of years and, throughout the pandemic, I’ve been helping with Zoom calls to members, as well as hosting movie nights and even cocktail nights.

“It’s about letting them know that they aren’t alone.

“From my own point of view, it has been really hard too.”

Taylor previously worked for a mental health charity that supports vulnerable adults and saw first-hand how damaging the pandemic has been for some people.

“As a support practitioner, I saw clients deteriorating because they weren’t able to thrive in their own environment,” said Taylor, who has deferred her university course for a year as she finds online learning difficult to cope with.

“They weren’t able to get out and go to clubs where they could socialise. It has been a horrible time for them.”

Paul McIlvenny, co-founder and chair of Include Me 2 Club, has praised volunteers such as Taylor for helping to bring people together during these difficult times.

He said: “It is so important to help people make friends and break the monotony of staying in the house.

“Our charity was built on bringing people together and understanding all the different barriers they face.

“When lockdown impacted the charity, we had to switch to digital and carry out the majority of our services online but it didn’t keep us down.

“We have gone on to deliver more than 1,300 sessions over Zoom, with two to three activities every day of the week.

“We launched our Buddy Up initiative, which offers a free telephone friendship service to people so those who are on their own or feeling lonely can enjoy a chat with someone.”

For more about the Buddy Up project, visit www.includeme2club.org.uk/buddy-up.