TWO Post Office branches which closed due to the coronavirus crisis have been reopened to provide a lifeline to people in need.

Goldthorpe and Thurnscoe’s shops closed earlier this month following government advice that all non-essential businesses should close, and due to staff self-isolating.

However, after concerns from customers in the area - many of whom are elderly and rely on the Post Office for essential postal and banking services - and pressure from Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey, the state-run firm has been able to reopen both branches on a limited service.

Goldthorpe will open from 9am until 1.30pm Monday to Wednesday and Thurnscoe - one of two post offices in the village, with Thurnscoe East remaining closed - 9am to 11.30am, Monday to Saturday.

John said: “I discussed the steps needed to reopen Goldthorpe Post Office with three senior managers, as well as what needs to be done to help fill the gaps in local services during the coronavirus crisis.

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“I suggested they introduce more mobile and pop-up post offices in nearby shops where branches can’t stay open, because staff are ill or self-isolating. I also pressed to get more health safety screens and protective equipment for staff.

“I talked regularly to the Goldthorpe postmaster, backing him in dealings and encouraging him to get the post office’s cash machine back in service as well as safety measures to give staff confidence to continue working so he could reopen as soon as possible.

“I also discussed my concerns about Thurnscoe with the national network managers and - after a period when both post offices in the village were closed I’m delighted the postmaster has found a way of reopening one branch in Thurnscoe.”

Elsewhere in the Dearne area, Bolton-upon-Dearne’s Post Office is open from 7am to 1pm, Monday to Wednesday, with Wath-upon-Dearne’s branch open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and from 8.30am to 6pm on Saturday.

Temporary outreach services have been put in place in other areas of Barnsley, with postmasters serving areas around their own to ensure communities remain connected to their vital services.

The Post Office has implemented services to allow self-isolating or vulnerable customers access to financial services through friends, family members, carers or support workers.

The ‘Payout Now’ scheme allows people to call their bank or building society and receive a one-time voucher, allowing them withdraw cash quickly from their account by exchanging this at the branch.

Previously, this scheme was only available through people such as care workers - but it has been extended to any volunteered person to allow at-risk individuals to withdraw money safely.

The firm is also improving its ‘Fast PACE (pre-authorised cheque encashment)’ service, which allows vulnerable customers to contact their bank and nominate a trusted person to cash a cheque on their behalf.

Martin Kearsley, banking director at the Post Office, said: “Being able to easily access cash is a vital service for older people and those self-isolating.

“Our Payout Now and Fast PACE services mean they can access cash quickly and securely to repay someone for a helpful service like shopping, or simply manage their finances, providing peace of mind that cash can be securely sourced with the help of any trusted helper.”