St John Ambulance Guernsey is launching a new Caring Caller project to help tackle loneliness and social isolation. The free telephone service will link trained volunteers, who have time to listen and chat, with older people who are living alone, feeling isolated or cut off from their community.
Caring Callers also offers a telephone check-in service for people who might benefit from a call, either on a regular basis, or on a temporary basis when normal support networks, such as friends and family are unavailable. The check-in service will also offer a safety net for anyone who cannot summon assistance in the normal way.
Once trained the Caring Caller volunteers will be matched with people with similar interests or shared experiences and will catch-up on a regular basis over the phone. The service not only aims to end loneliness but also to help improve well-being and other health issues among isolated, vulnerable or older adults.
The St John charity is launching the Caring Caller service together with an appeal for more volunteers to coincide with National Befrienders Week which runs from 1st – 7th November and celebrates the benefits of befriending and creating connections.
Heather Langlois, Chief Executive Officer said: “Even in a small island community, self-isolation may result in people in feeling disconnected or cut off from friends, family or the outside world. Just having someone ask you about your day can make all the difference to how you’re feeling and brighten up your day. Caring Caller is all about connecting people and helping to end loneliness. Similar projects operate in other parts of the world and have been shown to have a positive impact on individuals health and wellbeing, as well as reducing the demands on other services which people who are feeling lonely sometimes turn to when they don’t have anyone else to talk to.”
Kelly Marquis, Emergency Ambulance Service Paramedic Practitioner added: “We know that loneliness and isolation can impact on both mental and physical health. In my own experiences as a Paramedic Practitioner, I have met people who are on their own and who feel low or anxious or experience other mental or physical health related issues because of loneliness. The ‘Campaign to End Loneliness’ draws on research that suggests in some cases loneliness can be as harmful to physical health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. While the Caring Caller volunteers are not counsellors or healthcare professionals they may spot when someone is not well and be able to follow a welfare process to signpost them to other forms of appropriate care, if needed.”
Marica Bale, Community Support Officer at St John Ambulance Guernsey added: “We are looking for friendly, chatty people of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds, who have a positive outlook on life and who are happy to spend time talking to others. We will try and match people with similar interests, but the conversations could be wide ranging. Our volunteers will undergo training, induction and ongoing support.”
To find out more about the St John Caring Caller service or to volunteer as a Caring Caller call 01481 727129 or email Caring.Caller@stjohn.gg