Staying connected with befriending telephone calls

We spoke to Jane and Betty about their experiences of being a part of our new telephone befriending service

Jane is a volunteer on our new telephone befriending service which we’ve teamed up to deliver with South Yorkshire Housing Association.

Having struggled with her own health, Jane told us she volunteers to give back as she understands what it’s like to live through tough times.

A few weeks ago Jane and Betty were introduced for the first time and they’ve spoken every day since! As Jane and Betty are both living alone during lockdown, they’ve found that sharing a call together is a great way for them to keep connected.

They’ve been chatting about family, gardens and life in lockdown, but we’ll let them tell you all about it – first up, here’s Jane!…

What do you think about the befriending programme?

“I think it’s great, I really do! Knowing someone’s going to give you ring each day is something to look forward to. Considering Betty and I are generations apart we’ve got the commonality of isolation. Just being able to talk to someone for half an hour every day is really helpful.”

What kind of things to you and Betty chat about?

“We talk a lot about her garden because although she can’t access it, she can look at it and she really enjoys doing that. We talk about her family and a little bit about the past, like the war, particularly around VE Day. She enjoys reading so we talk about that as well.

We do talk about lockdown – Betty’s garden links onto the school playground and she says she misses the kids as background noise. And we talk about what we’ve both done with our days – both of us often say “nothing!”, so we have a bit of a laugh about that. She’s got a bench out the front of her house and one out the back so she can sit out if the weather’s nice.

In her younger days, Betty lived not far from where I am now, so we have that in common as well. She knows Hillsborough quite well so when I’ve been to the shop she can picture where I’ve been. We do joke and say the most exciting thing I’ve done is go to the shops!”

It’s mental health awareness week this week and the theme is kindness, what does kindness mean to you?

“Kindness is about giving without expecting anything in return. It’s about thinking of others and thinking about what they need and not what you want.

For me, throughout my illness, people have been looking after me and it’s a time where I can start giving back to people who have looked after me. My parents have been a massive support through my illness and now I can do their shopping and can run errands for them so it’s something different.

By giving your time to other people, it does have a positive effect on your own mental health. People often say by doing service it benefits both parties. Being able to do things for other people gives you a bit of a sense of purpose – otherwise you’d just be sat at home in your house dwelling on stuff. When you can do stuff for other people, it does help!”

We also had a chat with Betty about her phone calls with Jane…

“It’s nice to have something to look forward to with Jane’s calls, it breaks up the monotony a bit so it’s nice to hear from people. We just talk about things in general because we’re not going out, so I don’t get my mix much. I’ve got a lovely garden, I’ve got bluebells, white bells, and it’s all red at the bottom. It is nice and when the weather is good, I can sit out. There’s nothing I couldn’t do if wanted to do it, not sure I could clean windows…but if I had to I would get my mop out and have a bash! It just gets a bit boring! We do have nice conversations; I’ll always talk to people if they ring me up – I’m not hard to get on with really!”