Hull befrienders meet people they have supported through Covid for first time

Befrienders who've been speaking to lonely people during the pandemic meet up with those who they've supported for the first time
Befrienders met with those they've been speaking to at a special lunch event at The Freedom Centre on Thursday Credit: Hull City Council

Volunteers in Hull who have been speaking over the phone to elderly or vulnerable people during the pandemic have met those they've supported face-to-face for the first time.

The Call and Chat service was set up by Hull Libraries in November 2020 and has seen weekly or fortnightly calls to offer a friendly voice to customers during Covid.

In total more than 500 calls have been made lasting a total of more than 15,500 minutes.

Today the befrienders and the those they have helped were brought together for the first time for a special lunch at the Freedom Centre in the city.

Sue Clark is one of the volunteers who has been making calls since the start of the project. She regularly rings five customers.

Sue said: “Call and chat is two-way, both sides get a positive experience from it in my experience. There are lots of lonely people who look forward to their regular phone call - you might be the only person they’ve spoken to that day. I really believe in this project.”

Some of the volunteers have been speaking to the service users for almost a year but never met face to face before today Credit: Hull City Council

One of the users of the service said: “It breaks the day up. As I’m elderly, I don’t go out much apart from to get my shopping.

“The days seem particularly long at this time of year. The calls give me a boost and we can have a laugh and a chat.”

During the pandemic, as well as the Call and Chat service, Hull Libraries has also been running a books on wheels project which has been delivering books to people who are finding it hard to leave their homes.

Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “One of the most upsetting and difficult consequences of the pandemic is that it has left many people, especially the elderly, feeling isolated and even abandoned. Call and Chat has helped many people within our community avoid feeling like this.

“Call and Chat has been invaluable over the past year and I’m delighted that some of the incredible volunteers got to meet the people, who they have made such a difference to, at this special event today.”