HOW DID YOU START VOLUNTEERING?
I became aware of the Volunteer Telephone Befriending through a work email. I knew the two brilliant organisations involved and felt I wanted to support them. I had been interested in befriending in the past, but because I commute to work I thought I may not have time to visit someone in their own home. This new role involves making a weekly phone call to a local person who is lonely and isolated.
Due to the Coronavirus the volunteer training took place online via Zoom, where we were given an introduction to the volunteer role and any safeguarding issues we may encounter. It was made clear that if I had any concerns or felt uncomfortable whilst I was volunteering then I could go to the Co-ordinators for advice.I was then quickly matched to my first person who was in need of a befriender.
WHAT DOES A TELEPHONE BEFRIENDER DO?
I make regular weekly phone calls to two people; a Lady in her 90s who has had a very colourful life, and a younger gentleman who enjoys talking about local history. We chat for between 30 and 60 minutes at each call. I then make a record of my call in a special app, including any notes or issues which goes straight to the Co-ordinator who then sends me a thank you note. It is a terrific app as they get the message instantly and it is very quick and easy to use.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT VOLUNTEERING?
I had forgotten about having conversations on the phone, I have become so used to sending an email, text or whatsapp. Sharing conversation one to one and concentrating on a person and what they are interested in appeals to me. Hearing their stories and interests and having space to ramble is precious time. I get as much out of it as they do; it is a two-way thing as we’ve learnt things from one another. A volunteer has more time to listen than a professional who might have a list of people to ring in one day and may be more pressurised by their work.
I feel appreciated by them both which has been positive when I am working on my own from home. I would be quite happy to continue volunteering as long as I can, it feels right for me, we all have different things we can contribute.
This Telephone Befriender role is with Kirklees Befriending Partnership led by Age UK and Yorkshire Children’s Centre find out more here.