Getting people’s food and medicine was a priority at the start of lockdown, but staff at One Community knew that as soon as they could they needed to deploy volunteers to make contact with socially isolated people who were shielding alone. People were really missing their usual social gatherings, lunch clubs, day centres and faith groups. Even those with family members in regular contact were feeling the strain, as the daughter of one client said: “I phone mum regularly but neither of us is doing anything and we’ve nothing to talk about.”
When a new person phones, there is so much to say – your whole life story to draw on!
One Community had lots of volunteers interested in the Telephone Companionship role, so recruitment was swift, including volunteers who were themselves vulnerable and so unable to undertake shopping or prescription collection. The Hampshire CVS Network short film and guidelines were invaluable for the induction of volunteers, covering safeguarding, confidentiality and boundaries.
The feedback from clients has been really touching:
“I am very lucky, I have a bungalow, I have a home help but I am incredibly lonely now and feeling sorry for myself. I am just very grateful to have you at the end of the phone.”
“Thank you for organising a caller during the virus, I look forward to my weekly chats. I appreciate the calls and everything that One Community does.”
“I find it very reassuring to receive your call.”
Telephone Companionship made a big difference to people’s lives as the weeks of lockdown wore on, and clients reported the debilitating effects of prolonged isolation.
Shopping, prescription and delivery volunteers have played their part in this too. Often standing to chat at a distance having deposited the client’s parcels on the doorstep. As clients who receives shopping from volunteers have said:
“You are like the sunshine in my life.”
“God love her heart, she’s an angel, thank you One Community”