​Friendly phone calls — Guide to helping lonely and isolated people feel more connected in The Hemingfords

15.05.20

Before you start

Friendly phone calls provide isolated people with a regular chat and catch up. It also helps them feel more connected with their community during self-isolation. Here are some handy hints and tips to help you create a warm and welcoming conversation.

  • Hemingford Hub will match up caller volunteers with an at-risk person in the same neighbour zone or area. It recommends chats last up to 20 minutes. This is long enough to create a warm conversation but not too long that it impinges on the volunteer’s day.

When making calls use your own phone but remove your phone number from the recipient’s phone. This is how you can do it:

  • On a landline, prefix the number you are calling with 141

  • On a mobile go to Settings and turn off Show caller my ID.
     

Confidentiality

As friendly phone callers you have access to personal and private information about your at-risk person.  Please protect their safety and privacy by:

  • Only accessing the information you need for this role.

  • Agreeing not to disclose any of this information to anyone else, (unless you are concerned about any safeguarding issues.)

  • Deleting any private information from electronic devices, and destroying printed or written information once this information is no longer needed by you for this role.
     

Focus of the call

Advice from charities suggest that during the phone call you should focus on the at-risk person’s:

  • Day-to-day events

  • Family and friends

  • Interests and hobbies etc.

You should eventually build up a friendly, trusting relationship over time with your at-risk person.  

You may feel comfortable sharing certain details of your life with your new phone buddy, but it is worth deciding beforehand what you will and won’t share. This keeps you safe and also ensures that it is the at-risk person who is kept in focus. 

 

Delivering your friendly phone calls

It might be helpful to consider some of the following points when making your call:

  • Ask open questions (eg how, what, where, when, who and why?)

  • Be empathetic and a good listener

  • Reflect back – summarise and reflect back any important points that have been made.

Our at-risk residents will warm to a caller who is compassionate, empathic, interested and kind. Be cheerful by all means, but don’t feel obliged to ‘look on the bright side’ or to ‘find the positives’ in this very difficult situation.

Listen and tune in to any little worries they may have that aren’t normally big issues for you, but may be enormous problems for them.

 

Self care

We care about you, our volunteers, too! It is important you are tuned into your own emotional wellbeng. How much time and empathy do you have for friendly phone calls?  Please let HemingfordHub know if you feel unable to volunteer at any point in time.

 

Making a friendly phone call

Starting the first call

  • Introduce yourself and explain that you are in isolation too, living nearby and have volunteered to call for a friendly chat on behalf of HemingfordHub.

  • Arrange a mutually suitable day and time to call for a chat, if now isn’t convenient.

We need to keep a record of the calls you make. Please send a brief email to hemingfordhub@icloud.com telling us:

  • Date of call, name of ‘at risk’ person. Any concerns?

  • If the arranged call didn’t happen and why.

Ending the call

End the conversation by saying how much you have enjoyed the chat and make an arrangement to ring again in a few days at a convenient time.

Remember you should not share the ‘at-risk’ person’s phone number with anyone but the Hub’s volunteer manager and you should not be tempted to give them your number.

Some hints and tips on topics you could cover. This is essentially a friendly free-flowing conversation, and not a script or market research exercise….

(BUT please make a note of any information you pick up that the Hub needs to note or act upon.)

You don’t have to ask all these questions. You may already know many answers if you know this person. This is just a non-specific guide:

  • Who else do you know in the village who’s volunteering? (Prompt with some names) and note their reactions if they don’t know their volunteer..

  • Do you have your prescriptions or newspapers delivered to you by our Hub volunteers?

  • How do you do your shopping? Do you get it delivered and by who?

  • Did you know that we also post letters?

  • If you’re concerned about money, our Post Office can arrange for money to be delivered. You can ask for this service through the Hub’s main phone number: 07308 035416

  • Are you in contact with friends and relatives? How and how often?

  • Would you like to try talking face-to-face by video link with your loved ones? It’s free!

  • Would you like some birdseed that the A14 fund has donated to us?

  • What else could the Hub do to make your life more bearable during lockdown?

  • How do you feel about having access to more: books and jigsaws?

  • We’re offering the delivery of a free hot meal from a local catering company, would you like to receive one?

  • Is there anything else you feel you’d like us to provide?

As this is an emotionally challenging as well as a physically challenging time, it is important we are able to identify people who are struggling emotionally.  If you are worried about someone, the first port of call would be the HemingfordHub to discuss your concerns.

Hemingford Hub recommends that once the relationship is free-flowing, you could also ask:

  • How are you feeling?

  • How has your sleep been?  Any changes?

  • Are you enjoying your meals? Any changes?

  • Are you still doing the things you normally do at home? (chores, hobbies, etc)

  • Are you getting enough exercise? (suggest TV programmes for those stuck at home and unlikely to be moving around as much as they formally did.)

  • Who do you speak to during the day/week? (Ask if they’d like to connect with loved ones by video.)

  • Is there anything that’s worrying you that you didn’t used to worry about?

  • Is there anything you’re concerned about when you’re finally allowed out after the government lifts lockdown?

  • Is there anything you’d like the Hub to do for you, either now or when you’re allowed to leave your home?

  • Would you like the Hub to stay in touch with you when things start to get back to normal?

 

Make a date for another phone call, so long as you both have enjoyed the chat. If not, we can pair you up with someone else. Or you could suggest a suitable new person to chat to who shares hobbies and interests.

ABOUT THE HUB

 What has become the Hemingford Hub was first proposed in 2017 as a test case for how lonely or isolated people in the village could be supported by the community care sector and NHS. The Hub was recognised as a community group and received funding in November 2019. Just as the team was preparing to launch the Hub, Covid-19 happened.. 

GET IN TOUCH

hemingfordhub@icloud.com

07308 035416

Or click here for our online forms

VOLUNTEERS WANTED

As well as committee members, we now have more than 100 volunteers supporting both villages. If you would like to join them to help during the Covid-19 pandemic or in other ways, please get in touch. 

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