In November 2018 the Manor Gardens Friendship Network approached the BIG Alliance for help in recruiting volunteers to make calls to their older clients. As a result we were able to broker the recruitment of 12 employee befrienders from Slaughter and May, who had asked us to find accessible volunteering opportunities which employees could complete from within their office, at a regular time that suited them best.
Following an informative training session and induction delivered by the Friendship Network staff alongside Slaughter and May’s Corporate Responsibility team, volunteers committed to making weekly calls to their assigned client, totalling approximately seventy hours’ worth of calls made by the end of the pilot period.
10 volunteers have continued their contact with the Friendship Network management team, and 5 of these have continued to make calls to their assigned clients. Slaughter and May are now offering additional internal training sessions to recruit more volunteers for the Network.
Feedback from clients receiving calls from the business volunteers:
Feedback from the clients who were able to be taken off a waiting list thanks to the Slaughter and May volunteers reflected the importance of the telephone befrienders service and the way the volunteers were able to be friendly, caring, and professional.
- Client 1 says that the weekly phone calls from his befriender made a difference to him. Because of his reduced mobility he finds it difficult to leave his flat on his own. He doesn’t have a lot of opportunities to talk to people. He said: “The lady is very nice. I like to talk to her. It is good to know that there is someone who cares. I look forward to each week to hear from her”
- Client 2 says that it was a pleasure to talk to his befriender. He couldn’t get out very often, because of his medical condition and didn’t have much social life. He says: “She was friendly and supportive. We had a very good time talking to each other. We became good phone friends over the time”
- Client 3 says that she likes to receive phone calls from her befriender. They have a friendly chat over the phone. She is currently unable to walk outside because of her arthritis. She says that it is good for her to know that there is someone who thinks about her and calls her every week and she doesn’t feel so alone. She says: “The befriender rang me every Friday. We always have something to talk about. I always wait for her phone call. I wish we could talk even longer or more often”
Feedback from the Friendship Network staff:
The Friendship Network staff integrated their training extremely well with Slaughter and May to ensure it was a beneficial experience for both their clients and the volunteers, setting the blueprint for continued engagement in the future. Milena Rola, Friendship Network and Stroke Service Project Worker, said of the partnership: “I am very grateful to the Slaughter and May volunteers for choosing to volunteer with us and bringing their own personality and interests to the project. Many of our clients are lonely and feel isolated. Some may have regular contact with professional workers, but having someone call them for a social chat gives them an opportunity to discuss their interests and connects them to the outside world. It was encouraging to know that the volunteers wanted to make sure that the clients were safe. Most of our clients expressed that having a regular chat with their befriender over the phone helped them feel happier and more cheerful than before”
It’s the BIG Alliance’s mission to connect businesses with the community in order to create positive social change, with reducing isolation being a key pillar of this. Watch the fantastic video on the Manor Gardens Friendship Network webpage to better understand the importance of supporting local services which are directly tackling these key issues. If you’d like to learn more about this type of project and get involved as a business, or receive volunteers to help extend the reach of your service, contact firstname.lastname@example.org