Jade called Emily who was quite distressed that it had been 12 weeks since her covid injection and she hadn’t heard anything. This was really worrying for her.
Having gained consent and speaking with Rotherham Federation staff Jade was able to make some calls and it was arranged that the Covid Call Centre would ring Emily and book her appointment for the next day, they would be sensitive to her request as they usually wouldn’t go to these lengths.
Jade went above and beyond to assist Emily and I am sure thanks will be made in due course. Jade said it was nothing and she is just happy she was able to help , Jade followed all our protocols and was simply amazing.
Chelsea approached us upon reaching her 18th birthday during March 2021. She had previously attended a talk at Thomas Rotherham College on how to become a friendship call volunteer but because of lockdown could not enrol back in November due to being under the age of 18. Chelsea started her first calls on 22nd March 2021 and has since shown so much potential as a young volunteer. She has been very consistent, taken on any extra calls when needed. During this month, she had been asked to take an elderly lady called Maureen on permanently as her usual volunteer had gone off sick. They immediately formed a very strong bond. Chelsea approached me to ask if she would be able to Skype Maureen in the future. After some discussion, Chelsea set up a new email account so that she could protect her personal details and will now proceed using Skype calls to Maureen (Maureen is very good on Skype). I asked Chelsea if she would be willing to become our first Digital Champion Volunteer and she has agreed, she would be supporting people with their preferred choice of social media, and she will be going out and about in the community after lockdown training both tenant voice and friendship volunteers as well as any participants that may be interested. Further to this, Chelsea is a very well-spoken young lady who also volunteers for St Johns Ambulance, and she has also agreed to become an ambassador for any other young volunteers or students wishing to become volunteers. We have reported back to Thomas Rotherham College on how Chelsea is expanding her role with us. She is an amazing young lady.
Mary came to us as a referral from Social Prescribing in September 2020. This lady had not been very well and although active had found that her life had changed since lockdown and she had then become ill. Mary enjoys cooking and reading books and during the initial stages of her being with us she had been receiving calls from staff members up until end of January. In February she was then paired with volunteer Chantelle and they immediately began to build a rapport with conversations lasting sometimes in excess of an hour and a half. They had become firm friends over the weeks following. Social Prescribing did a follow up with Mary in April and we received an email from the referrer ‘Just wanted to let you know that I got some lovely feedback from a patient who Chantelle calls. She is very much enjoying her calls.’ This highlights how important the calls are for those receiving them and Mary never misses a call.
Mia was referred to us back in November from one of the housing coordinators. Mia suffers with bipolar, poor physical health and various other mental illnesses. Mia was very reluctant to become part of the service at first until she was paired with a young volunteer. It was during this week that I had cause to have to ring Mia and after asking her how she feels about the service this is what she had to say, and she also states that she would be very willing to talk to anybody about what the calls mean to her,
‘These calls have changed my life, the volunteer goes over and above what is required of her and even called me over the Christmas period and on Christmas day. This meant so much to me as I was on my own. She has literally turned my life around and even though I do suffer with bipolar I find that the calls ease me when I am in a depressive mood and really life me up. I cannot wait to get the call every week and I cannot thank you enough for giving me my volunteer, as I said it has changed my life and I now feel a lot more optimistic than I have ever done, so that you Rotherfed and that you to the volunteer, you just keep up the good work’
Emily came to us as a referral in October. She had been through very difficult times. She had recently lost her partner who had been abusive and had to come to terms with a lot of things. This abuse had also had in impact on her relationship with her family and despite only being in her early 60’s found herself very much alone. In November we had a new student come on board from Leeds Beckett University who from the first call found she got on really well with Emily and requested that she phones Emily every week as part of her call rota. This relationship had developed and in between Christmas and New Year, the volunteer took it upon herself to call Emily during this period even though she did not need to do so. I contacted Emily this week, and her report back to me on how the calls from the volunteer were going, was very emotional. She advised that this is the one thing that is constant in her life and knowing that she gets a phone call every week keeps her going and gives her something to look forward to. She informed me that she has found that her anxiety and depression has decreased, and she now feels optimistic for the future and could not thank me enough for her very valued calls.
Allison is a young volunteer 20 who wants to build experience as she would like to progress her career to become a counsellor in the future.
Claudia, 88 was paired with Allison and they have conversations every week, anything from 20 mins to 45 mins. Claudia does like to keep herself busy, but other than her career and she doesn’t really talk to many others at the moment. They talk in general about all sorts of things especially about how Claudia loves to knit and how she is progressing at this. She is also making plans for her garden in the summer. Claudia looks forward to her chats with Allison each week. A true cross generational friendship.
Craig came to us as a very nervous man who suffers with anxiety and depression. Craig receives weekly calls from a staff member. The calls are usually about 20 minutes in length but over the course of the calls a trust has been formed. Craig likes the calls to be around the same time each week which has been arranged. Although he still has his up and down weeks, through the conversations he is having he can set little goals each week, the latest was for him to book his Covid jab, he was extremely anxious about it. When I spoke to him this week, he had not only booked himself in, but had been and had it done. He realised it wasn’t so bad and is now so much less anxious about going for his second one.
Although Craig may never go over to a volunteer, he is receiving the calls and this is certainly helping him on a weekly basis.
Jack was referred to the service in November, he was a little unsure about engaging with the service. He is partially sighted and lives on his own. Jack has lived a colourful life working down the pit for 35 years before living in Cyprus for many years. A cheeky chap that would suit a local volunteer as he enjoys talking about local monuments etc.
Jack was allocated to one of our new volunteers Gill, following the first call we received feedback from Gill who was over the moon and asked if she could contact Jack again. I spoke with Jack who was equally enthusiastic about speaking again with Gill, he said “an hour passed in a blink of the eye and the dreaded Covid was not mentioned once, which was a blessing, was nice to just talk to someone normally” he added, “the conversation just flowed as we moved from topic to topic.” Jack may have been sceptical, but he is certainly enjoying the calls now.
Charlotte is a young 24 year old council tenant referred from Roundabout. Charlotte lives on her own and suffers with mental health and drug abuse. After my initial call to Charlotte, she seemed reluctant to talk or engage. I got her to start talking about animals and Africa and this enthralled her. She started to open up to me and an hour later we had built a good rapport. I promised that I would ring her a week later, which I did. She was eagerly anticipating my call and we had a great chat again. At the end of the call she informed me that it was so nice to be able to speak to someone who does not judge her or wants to offer advice. She openly discusses her thoughts with me. She has told me that she is so happy that she can receive these calls as she feels totally isolated and alone.
I received a text from her thanking me and that she is really looking forward to receiving another call on Monday. Because of her drug abuse and mental health, she will remain with me.
Jepsy speaks in broken English as she is Spanish. She joined back in October 2020. She has a young family so does up to 3 calls a week. Jepsy has grown in confidence and has no problems communicating with the participants. Her English is improving all the time and she is really enjoying the conversations. She has one participant who she calls weekly and two others which she alternates. “Was able to speak with MW, she was very happy and we were talking about her daughter’s profession, and she also told me about the coronavirus vaccine, Mrs. MW has an amazing memory, because she remembers many things, when I told her she laughed a lot.”
Jepsy continues to call participants and even with the added pressure of home schooling, she is still keeping consistent with a few calls and looks forward to increasing when things return to some degree of normality.