Woman on phone

Telephone friendship groups thrive with Sovereign funding

Over the last year, many of us have seen our social lives disappear.

Aside from meeting friends and seeing family, the community groups we attended and the clubs we were members of had to stop or move online.

But what if being online wasn’t something we wanted to do, or had the equipment to access?

That’s why we gave charity Pramalife £4,000 to supports its launch of Telephone Friendship Groups.

Groups of up to six people will get to ‘meet’ each other on the phone – to have a natter about the things they love, from football to fishing, baking to books.

Using an innovative system controlled by an organiser volunteer, participants don’t have to have access to the internet to join in, just an ordinary phone line or mobile.

Those who want to take part can dial in with a pin number, or be added by the host of the call. Calls are free to those taking part from a landline, and 8p a minute from most mobile providers, though free minutes can be used too.

Sue Warr, Pathways Manager for Pramalife, said: “Anyone can get involved in our Telephone Friendship Groups. It’s an opportunity to speak to other people on a regular basis, and might lead people to make new friends or get involved in new activities in the future.

“It’s also a great volunteering opportunity to make other people feel less lonely, and might give you the chance to talk to other people with a similar interest to you.

“We like to say ‘You’re never alone with a friend on the phone!’”

Diane Humphries, Community Development Officer for Sovereign, added: “At Sovereign one of our key aims is to create better places for people to live, growing a sense of community and belonging.

“We know that Covid-19 has brought huge, sometimes difficult changes to people’s lives, and we’re hoping that the thought of a weekly chat about something that is not the pandemic might offer that ray of sunshine and give people a chance to open up on topics they care about.”

Other groups and charities in BCP and Dorset local authority areas are encouraged to contact Pramalife if they think that people they support would benefit from the service.

The phone calls can be arranged at any time of the day or night that suits organisers and participants.

To become a coordinator, volunteers will need to be prepared to give around an hour and a half of their time to set up and then manage calls, as well as undergoing a DBS check and training on how to pick up on any other requests for help or support that might come about during the calls.

For more information, please contact Sue Warr on sue.warr@pramacare.co.uk or call 07867 354588.