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.