Friendship Call Participant – Olivia

Oliva has only been receiving the befriending calls for two months, she originally started them as she moved from the London area to Rotherham to live with her partner. She left all of her family and friends and the move really affected her social life and this made her feel very lonely with only her partner to talk to.

She has spoken to the same volunteer who is about the same age and had a very similar experience with moving a long distance away from family and friends. Their conversations have included ways that the volunteer made friends and encouraged Olivia to get out of her comfort zone a bit to meet new people.

Fiona her volunteer suggested some craft groups in the area and exercise classes, Olivia has recently joined 2 different dance groups and is looking at joining the crafting groups after the new year, Olivia has said that she never would have found the courage to join the groups without Fiona’s encouragement.

Friendship Call Participant – Maggie

Maggie has been receiving the befriending calls since May 2022. Her husband passed away in 2018. Even though she does have children, she has said since her husband passed away, she hasn’t had someone to talk to about ‘normal everyday things’ which she really missed. During Lockdown her mental health really suffered as she wasn’t able to see her family much.

Recently Maggie has had lots of health issues which has resulted in her being in hospital on numerous occasions. She has also found out that her eldest brother, who she’s always been ‘thick as thieves with’, has terminal cancer that has spread to most of his body. All of this stress has led to a decline in Maggie’s mental health.

She has spoken to the same volunteer since she started the calls and has developed a close bond with her volunteer. Maggie said that her volunteer always pulls her out of her ‘funk’ and they end up in giggles whenever they talk.

Maggie said talking with her volunteer helps her to forget ‘how bad things can be’ even if it’s just for half an hour, she said she felt like the conversations flow so easily as they have very similar interests and outlooks on life. They have covered every topic imaginable. Maggie loves the fact the volunteer is sometimes somewhat blunt (in the nicest possible way!) saying “yes everything is bad at the moment, but things can’t get any worse, can they?” and “you need to put on your big girl knickers and get on with it don’t you, if you don’t do it no one else will”. Now her mental health is a lot better than it was, her overall health has stabilised a bit now and she is enjoying spending time with her brother making as many memories as possible, they are planning on a having the whole family take a cruise over the Christmas period. In Maggie’s own words “never underestimate the difference the calls make, sometimes it’s the one consistent in my life and it means the world to me”.

Friendship Call Participant – Jean

Jean has only been receiving the befriending phone calls for a month. She is a full-time carer for her husband who has advanced Alzheimer’s. She was really looking forward to the calls as she said she had been feeling very lonely, she can’t get out much due to her husband’s condition and this is a huge change for Jean.

Her first call was with a volunteer called Debbie, Jean said they were talking for over an hour. They covered everything from family, hobbies, and volunteering. Jean said that talking to Debbie had “cheered her up no end” and Debbie was “an absolute treasure”. Debbie said the phone call was the highlight of her day as well.

Jean called the office saying how much she had enjoyed her call with Debbie and how much it meant to her that Debbie had taken some time out of her day (longer than planned) to chat with her. It had made such a difference to Jean that someone would do this having taken time out of their busy lives to make the call and chat to some random “Tom, Dick or Harry” about anything and everything. Debbie and Jean now speak on a regular basis, and both enjoy the calls immensely.

This really does show just how important the befriending calls are to people who may not have anyone to talk to.

Friendship Call Participant – Caroline

Caroline has been receiving the befriending phone calls since September 2022. She has long covid which has left her with brain fog, reduced mobility, and anxiety. It has also exacerbated her COPD. She lives with her adult daughter who has mental health issues. Caroline said she felt she didn’t want to ‘burden’ her daughter with her problems. 

On her referral it was stated that Caroline used to be an avid reader, when she was asked about what hobbies and interests, she had she said that reading has always been a passion but due to Covid she hasn’t been able to get any new books, so her main passion in life had come to a grinding halt. This made a significant impact on her life. After some googling I found out that RMBC runs a delivery service with the libraries in the area which is run by a lovely lady called Debra.

After speaking with Debra who runs this service. We were able to organise the mobile library coming to Caroline’s house with a selection of books covering a wide genre.

After she had received the books, her volunteer said how much of a difference there was in her tone of voice, and she seemed to have rekindled her interests in life. Caroline said she had about 15 books to keep her occupied which should last “about a week”. 

Caroline was so flattered with the fact we went the extra step to help her, and now we are working closely with Debra at library services who will be referring people to the befriending calls and any of our participants who can no longer access books are being referred to her. 

“Having the calls from RotherFed is really useful as I am able to express myself freely without causing my daughter who lives with mw undue concerns as I know she worries.”

Friendship Call Participant – Harry

Harry is a lovely older gentleman who lives alone and due to a fall, which broke his hip now has reduced mobility. He gets around his flat using a wheelchair or a frame. He does have family who take him out once a fortnight. On his referral Harry said he often feels down in the evenings when he thinks about his deceased wife and the 2 children they lost. Harry is from South Wales and used to serve in the army. He has always enjoyed telling stories from his army days.

 He has been talking to the same volunteer since he started receiving the befriending calls in May 2022. His volunteer always says how much of a gentleman Harry is and how much she enjoys hearing all his war stories, he has had several near-death experiences including being run over by a tank! The phone calls last a minimum of 30 mins and are normally closer to an hour, their longest call was a whooping 2 and half hours! They have conversed about everything from Harry’s Army days, his family, politics, health and about the monarchy. 

His volunteer enjoys the calls immensely as she has a passion for history and hearing stories from someone who has lived through some of the most important historical events in recent times. The friendship that has developed between Harry and his volunteer really is something special. Harry has said he feels the calls have given him a new audience for his stories and he enjoys them so much because they alleviate some of his loneliness and isolation.

Friendship Call Participant – Steven

 Joanne has been speaking with Steven for some time now on the befriending service and apparently prevented him from taking drastic measures on several occasions. He is having cancer treatment plus struggles with mental health challenges. The last couple of calls Joanne has made he has been very down, and Joanne have pushed a little hard to have a chat even though he has said he hadn’t felt like talking. A quick 5-minute call because he’s down turns in to a lengthy chat whereby, he perks up, he chats and laughs and at the end of the call always says he feels so much better and that he is glad Joanne kept him chatting. The befriending call service has so many good news stories, and such a vast amount of positive outcomes.

Friendship Call Participant – Jean

Jean is a very shy and quietly spoken lady, she enjoys making cards and goes to a friendship group once a month. She lost her husband 3 years ago and finds it hard coping, she often gets emotional on the phone and apologises every time. Jean has recently had a cancer diagnosis and should be starting treatment soon. 

Recently her mother has become very ill and due to her own health issues, she hasn’t been able to support her as much as she normally would have done. Her brother and his wife have been looking after her mum which has caused stress for Jean as she doesn’t have a good relationship with her brother.

Jean said receiving the phone calls is a lifeline that she depends on at the moment, she has said just talking about normal things like her weekly food shop and the weather has made her feel “less like an ill person”. She speaks to one particular volunteer, and they enjoy just talking about the seemingly unimportant things in life which makes Jean feel ‘normal’.

Another issue Jean has is she needs a new hip, her surgeon won’t do the surgery until she has lost some weight. Jean has managed to lose three stone since November due to following the Slimming World Diet, she is really proud of how well she is doing. Her volunteer also gives moral support for her weight loss and makes a huge fuss every time Jean reports a loss. 

They have talked about everything from their weekly food shop to the volunteers’ children and how expensive having children is at the moment. Jean enjoys these normal chats so much; she has said it makes her feel like she is living a normal life to a degree. Jean said she is getting used to her cancer diagnosis. She is feeling a lot more positive about her situation. Her granddaughter has just been accepted into college to study law/criminology. Jean is so proud of her, and this shows with how much she speaks about her.

Friendship Call Volunteer – Robert

Robert has been volunteering with Rotherfed since August 2022, Robert is a student and is one of our younger volunteers. On average he has been calling 4 people a week, two of these calls are to the same gentlemen each week, Mike and Ken. Robert has started to feel like he is developing a better rapport with these gentlemen and feels like they are beginning to open up to him more about their circumstances and lives. 

At the beginning Robert wasn’t 100% sure of topics they could talk about so said to the recipients “I’m fairly new to this volunteering, so if he you have any preference as to what you would like to talk about let me know” which led to conversation about politics, the monarchy, wars and many other topics. 

After talking to one particular gentleman Robert realised how much they actually have in common despite a 30+ year age gap. Robert said “Yes, I have several things in common with Mike, I think he is getting more talkative, which I’m happy about, it seems like rapport is building”. Their conversations are now flowing over a wide range of topics and passions they both have. These conversations have also widened Roberts interests and he now enjoys watching similar documentaries to Mike. Robert now watches history and adventure documentaries and programmes about wars, which weren’t something he’d never considered before. Both the volunteer and participant have gained a friendship and wider range of interest in their lives. 

Robert asked Mike if he wished to carry on receiving the befriending phone calls which led to the banter between them that if Mike didn’t receive the calls, then he would be ok, but he enjoys chatting to Robert, Robert replied with he didn’t mind as he has plenty of free time, and more importantly it gave him someone to talk with.

Friendship Call Participant – Barry

Joanne has now been actively supporting on the befriending calls and has a couple of people with who she speaks with regularly, plus other individuals. Barry is one of the people she have been speaking with.

Joanne started speaking with Barry in August, he has become a participant of the Telephone Befriending service due to experiencing loneliness. He has got family but since his wife passed away 5 years, he hasn’t gone out other than food shopping or to see family.

He is very lonely, during conversations Barry told Joanne how he doesn’t have friends, when his wife passed away, he lost himself and attempted suicide and was admitted into hospital for his mental health as he was at risk to himself, he was sectioned and placed on suicide watch. Barry had 1-2-1 support whilst in hospital to ensure he was safe and this whole experience has left him anxious. Barry has a colourful an extensive history, he was a businessman and has a wealth of experience gained from his business and travelling around the world for business. His family business of fruit, veg and flowers remains operational in Rotherham, now managed by his daughter Barry wears his heart on his sleeve and is happy for me to share some of his story. Barry came to the coffee morning, this was a big deal for Barry he had not been out in any social setting for 5 years, he was very nervous an anxious on the day, he was shaking, bless him. When he arrived, I made sure he was ok, he arrived early, and we were still setting up. He was happy to wait outside to have a cigarette and try to calm himself down. He got chatting with another guy who also was a first-time attendee. When Barry came into the room he was still shaking, I got him a cup of tea and he eventually began to feel a bit more comfortable, I reassured him he was a in safe space. Barry really enjoyed getting ready, he is a very proud man and likes to look the part, which he did. I think that in itself was a huge step for Barry and will support his journey to feeling better and more positive about the future. Barry would like to meet a companion to share his time with and make new memories, whilst he continues to grieve his wife.

Barry is very engaging and was chatting with everyone, he was smiling and laughing. Barry said

‘It was the first time he had smiled in a while, he felt very safe and was so pleased he came to the coffee morning. He felt it had given him something to look forward to and life was good’. He also said he felt more confident at the end to start going out more.

When Barry arrived home, he left Joanne a message to say thank you and that he was thrilled he came, he felt he had been given life back, it was a very emotional morning to be a part of this positive step forward for Barry was immense. Barry is really looking forward to coming to the next one in September which is a massive step for him.

Friendship Call Participant – Nora

Nora was referred to the befriending calls in May 2022. Nora’s husband sadly passed away 4 years ago but Nora hasn’t let this stop her enjoying and living life to the fullest. She loves to have a good chat with her volunteer.

Nora is a very active lady and aims to walk 10 miles a day on her treadmill, which amazed our volunteer whose attitude to exercise was not quite on the same page as Nora’s. Nora has now been able to convince her volunteer to try and get more active and has been constant support with how many steps they have both done a week, they now encourage each other to beat the last week’s step count. The record in one day for our volunteer was 27,462 steps!

Nora and her volunteer have talked about such a wide and varied number of topics, everything from the war in Ukraine and the weather, to how much Nora dislikes films (especially action films). They both also share a passion for motorbikes, Nora was a dedicated rider until her husband passed away. The anecdotes Nora has from her biking days are amazing and hilarious, for instance, trying to go for a wee when wearing leathers! They both share favourite routes, places to go and things to see. Their latest topic of conversation has been about the government and how they both should run for the government and put the UK back in order. Some of Nora’s ideas are a bit wild and crazy but it is amazing for her and her volunteer to be able to chat as they do.