Friendship Call Volunteer – Donna

Donna joined RotherFed back during the first lockdown. Donna comes from a very experienced background and has a wealth of knowledge. My relationship started with Donna in August when I first started with RotherFed and upon her first call allocated by me, it turned into a safeguarding case. Donna contacted me and I responded immediately and took the matter forward. Donna is a very astute volunteer and with her experience goes over and above what she needs to do as a friendship volunteer. She will always report back to me should she have any concerns, and my response has always been immediate. We have built up a good relationship over these last 3 months so much so that Donna now will always take on as many calls as we are willing to give her and will follow up with me weekly on any concerns. Donna informed me that she cherishes working with me as she feels really supported as a volunteer and feels that should she have any concerns, they will always be dealt with and this has also resulted in Donna being very willing to take on more complex calls as she feels that the support will always be there when and if needed. Donna will be rewarded for the work that she is doing due to her continued commitment to those that she calls.

Friendship Call Participant – David

David is a resident I’ve been calling since the beginning of lockdown and have recently passed onto our volunteers. I rung David on Monday of this week to check in with him and see how he is coming along.

When I first spoke to David. He was getting food parcels each week and suffered with his vision, so he was quite nervous, unsure and very isolated. We hit it off straight away and David warmed to the fact that not only we thinking of him, but also that we were there to chat and help.

Over the weeks we have built up a fond relationship and I can see that he has improved in himself because of this. He is now able to get out and about on his scooter a bit and has started painting—something he hasn’t done in a long time—and has come a long way since the start of lockdown, with the friendship calls playing a major part in that.

Friendship Call Participant – Claire

I first spoke to Claire on 10th September. In her referral notes it said she was a victim of domestic violence. When I spoke to Claire she told me she felt very emotional, lonely and depressed. Her parents and children live in Cornwall and she has no family or friends in Rotherham. She originally moved to Rotherham to be with her partner (this is the violent partner), she no longer has any contact with him.

Claire told me that she would like to meet new people and start working again, even if it just a few hours a week. However, since the domestic abuse she has lost all confidence in herself and has low self-esteem. Claire also suffers from bipolar disorder and has done since 2012. During our 50-minute conversation Claire became very upset on several occasions. 

Over the past seven weeks I have spoken to Claire at least once a week, sometimes more.  During each conversation, typically lasting an hour, we have spoken about lots of different thing including family, work, relationships, her childhood, home etc. Seven weeks on and Claire is a different woman to what she was. 

I told Claire about some college sessions taking place free of charge in Thurcroft and suggested she go along to these. Claire now attends the craft session every Thursday and the sugar craft every Friday and has signed up for the Mindfulness starting next month.

Claire is really enjoying these sessions and they have made her feel so much better about herself. Claire has also joined a walking group and a yoga class. Two weeks ago, she went on a course for getting back into work and is now working with Reed who are helping her put a CV together. She is looking forward to getting back into work. She is also very interested in volunteering where possible i.e. events etc through RotherFed. Last week Claire also spoke to the mental health team and a plan has now been put in place for her, Claire is so happy about this and feels like everything is starting to come together.

Claire is a lovely woman; I really enjoy chatting to her and it is fantastic to see what progress she has made in such a short space of time. Claire is very grateful for the friendship calls and say what a difference they have made and the things they have led to. I really hope that Claire continues to move forward in a positive way, I feel she has so much to offer.

Friendship Call Participant – Allison

Allison had joined RotherFed’ s befriending services through a referral process in July. She had wanted to join the service because she was feeling socially isolated and felt she needed someone to talk to. This was due to shielding measures and the tiered and national lockdowns that have been put in place throughout the year. The latest lockdown has affected Allison more than she would have thought it would. Even though Allison has had her ups and downs over the past few months, she always brings an enthusiasm on every call that she is on despite having her own issues. I have been speaking with Allison for nearly 4 months now and Allison has always said “The calls make so much difference, I don’t feel that I’m on my own anymore”. Allison has such a fun and bubbly personality and is so easy to talk too. Allison comes to life when you are talking with her.

Whilst speaking on one of our weekly calls in October, Allison said that she loves chatting with others and always has been. Then Allison said” I bet I would be good at chatting to others over a phone because I’m always chatting”. Having spoken with Allison briefly about what the befriending service was about Allison said she would love to get involved somehow. Allison is a breath of fresh air and is always in her element when she is talking to others. After our first call it was clear that Allison was a very social person and made the calls so easy.

Allison is now joining RotherFed as a volunteer for the befriending calls service to help other people throughout Rotherham who are in similar positions to herself.  Allison has said “The calls make a big difference to her life and she wants to help make a difference to others too”. Allison has always given our service kinds words like “The calls are helping me there is no doubt about it. The calls are keeping me sane and are really helping. I am not just saying that I mean it”. That is what Allison wants to do for other people who are in the same position as she is. To be a voice on the end of the phone, to speak with others to not only fulfil her own social needs but to make others feel good too.

The RotherFed Volunteers team are now supporting Allison to become a volunteer to help others who like her want to speak with someone. I recently caught up with Allison as part of her weekly call and she is really looking forward to the helping people with befriending calls. Allison says, “it gives me something to focus on whilst the country is going into lockdown and over Christmas”. The most amazing thing about Allison is that she is using her own hardship of self-isolation to help others who are currently feeling isolated in the community.

Dinnington SEND Group

By Ian Huddleston, Community Organiser

Dinnington SEND group are a group for young people who are very active in the community, providing support for many families in and around Dinnington. I met with Jo from the group in early March to look at ways in which we could work together and to try organising events for their young people.

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Ferham Community Group

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

Since May, I had been supporting Kadeer, who is a community leader from Ferham to engage with the community both physical and virtually. Initially, Kadeer was looking to create a constituted group. We were able to support Kadeer in understanding what was needed and searching for others who wanted to join over several weeks. This included several organisational structures as Kadeer’s daughter was also considering becoming a Community Interest Company. I was able to advise Kadeer about the current COVID guidelines regarding activities, when he was very actively coordinating litter picks within the area.

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A Reason to Like Mondays Group

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

I have been lucky enough to be able to support the A Reason to Like Mondays (ARTLM) throughout the pandemic with several activities. The group are based in East Dene, St James Church room and they offer help, support and advice to parents and full-time carers of children pre-birth to 18. The group offer somewhere for people to go once their children are at school or if they are a full-time mum. St James Church offers a place where they can relax, have a chat or even a rant about what is going on in their life. Since COVID19 restrictions were implemented in May, the group have consistently provided a virtual coffee morning, which have totalled 21 sessions to date. The group have adapted to the pandemic and continued to engage with their group members via online coffee mornings. The virtual coffee morning is averagely attended by 3-5 members every Monday morning via zoom and the online Facebook page has 65 members who it is supporting.

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Dinnington Coronavirus Community Action Group

By Ian Huddleston, Community Organiser

In March, the country went into lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic. This put a lot of strain on the local community of Dinnington and left a lot of residents lonely and isolated. A group of residents put out Facebook posts to assemble a team of people who could work together as a committee to try and tackle these issues to help those residents most in need.

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East Herringthorpe Friends of Green Spaces

By Rob, Gooding, Community Organiser

Led by Natalie from the East Herringthorpe Litter pickers, the group has brought together members from other East Herringthorpe groups such as the cemetery clean up and the local history group. The aim is to create a large group focused around improving green spaces in East Herringthorpe. The group already has around 18 residents involved with them and is hoping to grow this over the next year. Natalie said: “I was tired of looking out of my flat at rubbish in my neighbourhood so decided to do something about it.”

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Mowbray Musers

By Dan Barron, Community Organiser

The Mowbray Musers are initially started as an in-person group in the Mowbray Gardens Library in February 2020. The aim was to form a group of friends would all sit and talk about creative writing, play some literature games, and show off their works in progress to friends for feedback. To allow people the opportunity to write in-between meetings, they planned to hold their meets, fortnightly at 12 noon on the first and third Tuesday of each month. The group were able to hold just two, in person meetings before the country went into lockdown.

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