A woman standing in front of logs of wood

Charlotte – telephone calls to tackle loneliness

Charlotte volunteers as a Telephone Befriender for Time to Talk Befriending – a charity that tackles loneliness through engagement, connection and friendship. She has three telephone friends all of whom are living with dementia.

“I first heard of Time to Talk Befriending (TTTB) in 2012 when I was working in Adult Social Care, and TTTB was just setting up. I was inspired and encouraged to hear how founder Emily Kenward had a heart for older people who were socially isolated and was responding in practical ways to create opportunities for friendship across the generations. I contacted Emily out of the blue – I wasn’t even sure why at the time – and we have been in touch ever since.

I call each of my telephone friends once a week, typically for around 30 minutes, though I am always led by the mood and energy of the person I am speaking to. While no two phone calls are the same, calls typically start with chatting about how we are today, and describing what we can see out the window. Conversation generally flows well, though I also have a few ideas for conversations just in case. I finish every call by saying I’m looking forward to our next phone call. And it’s true, I really am.

One memorable phone call was with a telephone friend who was feeling quite down about her back garden, which had become ‘wild’ due to her reduced mobility. Five minutes after our call, she phoned me back, excited to tell me she had pulled back the curtain to find that a mini bluebell wood had appeared in the ‘wildness’. Together, we were truly delighted by this discovery, and every time I have seen bluebells since I am reminded of this magical, back garden discovery.

I just love that this role so clearly connects something I am able to do, with something that is needed. I have been away from home since before lockdown. To begin with I felt powerless to help in a way that I had hoped, but telephone befriending has created the opportunity for meaningful connection across distance, and I have come to realise that connecting by phone is hugely valuable. Not only can I hear the mood of my telephone friends improving during our call, but I can sense the positive impact it has had on my wellbeing too.

There are a couple of different approaches to start thinking about volunteering or helping out. One approach would be to ask, ‘What am I good at? How can I share this with others? Another approach would be to start with the need, by asking, ‘What can I see that is needed, near me, right now?’ Why not have a think about what you can give, or how you can help today. Who knows, it could be as simple as a phone call.”

“I finish every call by saying I’m looking forward to our next phone call. And it’s true, I really am. ”

“I finish every call by saying I’m looking forward to our next phone call. And it’s true, I really am. ”

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