Friendship Calls Participant – Shelly

Shelly has been receiving the befriending calls since January 2023. She is a very chatty lady who had a stroke 4 years ago. She lives with her husband Ryan who has lots of health issues himself, they have family, who they describe as close even though they all live in different areas of Spain. Ryan has been finding it hard looking after Shelly due to his own health issues, the befriending phone calls were put in place so that Shelly had someone out of the picture to talk to and support for her.

She has spoken to the same volunteer every week since she started the calls, they have a lot in common and enjoy having long chats about anything and everything. They have conversed about everything from the government, to pets, to how the world has changed from when Shelly was younger. Shelly’s sight has declined rapidly in the recent months so she has been feeling very down as she is finding adjusting to her new lot in life, she said the thing she has found hardest has been the fact she can no longer cook.  During the befriending calls Shelly said how hard she has been finding all of the changes. Shelly said her volunteer always makes her see the best of everything and every situation, Shelly said after the phone calls she always feels a lot more positive and like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders. Her volunteer suggested her getting a meal subscription service which means she and Ryan would be able to cook properly together.

Friendship Calls Participant – Maude

Maude has been receiving the befriending phone calls since March 2022. She was originally referred as she was going through a really hard time, her partner had passed away suddenly and she had a range of health issues, the only thing Maude said brought her any joy was her Border Collie.

Maude was not sure receiving the calls was the right choice for her but decided to give it a try, the first few calls were a bit of a challenge, but our volunteer persevered with them and after a few calls they became fast friends.

Maude has said her volunteer must have a sixth sense as she always rings when she needs someone to talk to, she recently had some bad news, and her volunteer rang that afternoon, and they talked through all of the problems and Maude realised it wasn’t quite as bad as she originally thought.

The calls last on average 45 mins and the have covered such a wide range of topics, Maude has said she enjoys the talks so much as they always give her something new to think about, an example of this was the volunteers ideas about religion and how it’s a personal choice for every individual, Maude is a practicing Christian and they conversation made her broaden her scope of understanding of other people’s religious ideology. 

Friendship Call Volunteer – Carol

Carol recently starting volunteering with us, she has been making the befriending calls for a month now. She original came after a social prescriber thought she would be a good fit to receive the calls, we did the initial assessment and very quickly realised that volunteering would suit her perfectly. 

Carol said she was in a negative mind space as her children were in full time school and she had lost her focus in life. She realised that making the phone calls would be the perfect fit for her, as she could do the calls while her children in school. She was originally apprehensive about making the calls as she wasn’t sure what conversation topics would be. After her first call she rang and was so over the moon as the conversation flowed naturally and she loved every second of it.

Carol originally asked to make 2 or 3 calls a week, by the end of her first day she had made over 10 calls and now averages 10+ calls a week. She said she is now beginning to feel like her old self again and has found a new passion for life.

Friendship Call Participant – Clarissa

Clarissa has been receiving the befriending phone calls since November 2020. She originally received the befriending calls every week, is now on to fortnightly calls with the aim of ending the calls by the end of March. She was originally referred because she was very lonely and isolated, she suffered with depression and anxiety and Covid made everything feel worse for her. She only enjoyed playing on her PlayStation and watching tv.

She has spoken with the same experience volunteer since the beginning of 2021, in the space of time they have covered a wide range of topic and have got Clarissa to the point where she feels like she no longer needs to receive weekly calls. Clarissa is now going out a lot more often and feels her depression and anxiety are at a manageable level now and she feels like she can cope without the weekly support.

Her volunteer has been weaning off the calls so instead of over and hour call they are down to about 20 minutes and the plan is to gradually reduce the time until they are no longer needed completely.

Friendship Call Participant – Alice

Alice has been receiving the befriending phone calls since June 2020. She is a very lively colourful character; she is wheelchair bound but doesn’t let it stop her from living her life to the full. She has recently had some major health issues which have made her have to change a lot of her ‘normal’ life, she now has carers coming in 3 times a day, many hospital appointments and long stints in hospital.

Alice has spoken to the same volunteer for over 18 months, and they have developed a true friendship. They speak every Monday afternoon, Alice said the calls are the highlight of her week because she can live vicariously through her volunteer, the share gossip on what’s been going, tv show suggestions, and have a rant about whatever they feel like and set the worlds to rights.

Alice has said repeatedly to her volunteer how much the calls have helped her during this new phase of her life.

They have spoken about how the changes to Alice’s life aren’t as bad as Alice originally thought, Alice said that she originally felt like her life was over and now she feels like it’s not the end just a new way of life. She now sees that her life has changed but it’s not in a bad way, yes, she has more hospital visits, but that means they and she know about her health issues and what they are dealing with.

Friendship Call Participant – Terry

Terry has been on the befriending call service for almost 18 months. His wife passed away in April and since then he has really been struggling to get out and keep active.

He told his volunteer that he goes to church and one of the congregation there has set him a challenge to help with his mobility and fitness, he has found himself stuck in a bit of a rut! The volunteer now checks in regularly to see how he is doing with the challenge! The challenge was to try and go for a little walk each day, every day increase the number of houses he walks past before turning back. Terry started with 2 houses, then 4, then 6 and so on. He is proud as punch and is very keen to inform his volunteer of his progress, so much so that his volunteer has now joined the challenge and is updating Terry on her progress each week, they have a mini competition going on. Terry started walking by going past just 2 houses, he can now do almost 40 and has said that if he gets to 50, he will be able to get to his local post office for his daily paper, he has set himself a challenge to do that as it will give him a chance to speak to someone every day whilst out.

Terry’s normal volunteer has been unwell, so his calls have been covered by a new volunteer, they both have strong accents, and it turns out they both originate from the same village in Kent. It just shows what a small world it is. They have been able to reminisce together despite the 50-year age gap, they  often spend up to an hour on the phone. It goes to prove that find the common ground and strong friendships are formed, again a testament to our wonderful volunteers.

Friendship Call Participant – Gwen

Gwen started with the project in June 2022 in January 2023 she has now decided that she no longer needs the support of a weekly call. This is testament to her volunteer who has helped give her the confidence to get out and live life again. Gwen has spoken to the same volunteer since she started as they clicked straight away. Gwen’s husband and her best friend both passed away within a year of each other and this really effected Gwen’s mental health and her self-confidence.

At the start of the calls the conversations were very one sided with Fiona her volunteer thinking perhaps the calls weren’t the correct service for Gwen. After a few weeks Gwen started to open up about things that had happened and how much it had affected her. As the calls progressed Gwen was able to realise that life could carry on even though her husband had passed away, and that she needed to make the most of what life she had left. Gwen decided to purchase a caravan at the coast in Lincolnshire and goes to visit it each weekend, she also now goes out most days and mixes with a wide range of people. She has stopped using the service because she felt like she no longer needed the support and felt that other people could benefit from the service that had helped her so much. She also added that her and Fiona weren’t just recipient and volunteer, but they felt like friends for life, and this helped give her the confidence to live life to the full again.

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.