Scottish charity open up phone service to the public to tackle loneliness

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A SCHEME aimed at tackling loneliness in older Scots is being expanded to cater for those who have been more isolated during the pandemic.

Scottish charity, Food Train, which helps older people to live better in their own home has opened its Phone Friends service to the public after work to support members emphasised a strong need for it.

The service connects an older person with a volunteer who regularly phone them for a chat, giving them someone to speak to about how they feel, this is open to everyone aged 65 and over in Scotland.

Jo Dallas, a volunteer with Food Train’s Phone Friends service, making a call - Scottish News
Picture from Message Matters
Jo Dallas, a volunteer with Food Train’s Phone Friends service, making a call.

Morna O’May, who is overseeing Food Train’s Phone Friends service, said: “Covid has had a huge impact on older people who have had to shield and isolate. Because of the length of time this is going on for, they are losing confidence in being able to get back out and about again in public.

“It is creating a situation where people who had a connection to their community are losing that and those who were already isolated are feeling it even more keenly.

“The Phone Friend service is an ideal way to make connections again from the safe environment of your own home.”

Food Train launched its Phone Friends service to members after volunteers made a welfare check-in calls to older people during lockdown.

The service has seen volunteers make 1,550 phone calls and chatting to older people for 28,000 minutes.

The service has seen volunteers make 1,550 phone calls - Scottish News
Photo by Berkeley Communications on Unsplash
The service has seen volunteers make 1,550 phone calls.

The response to the service has been positive, so it is beong made available to non-members.

O’May added: “Phone Friends allows a friendship to develop without having to involve any travelling or visiting which suits many older people and volunteers.

“Because of Covid and nervousness about meeting in person, this service provides an ideal opportunity to contact another person without any of that additional worry.

“We have volunteers vetted, trained and ready to be matched. Because it is a phone service, geography doesn’t matter – we can match an older person with a volunteer anywhere in Scotland.”

Phone calls can be weekly, fortnightly or less often if people wish, for more information about Phone Friends, call: 0800 048 9945 or email: [email protected].