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Phone Friends expands to tackle loneliness

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By Fiona Reid
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Phone Friends expands to tackle loneliness

A SCHEME tackling loneliness among older people is being expanded to reach more in Dumfries and Galloway.

Food Train has opened its Phone Friends service to the general public after work during the pandemic highlighted the strong need for it.

It connects an older person with a volunteer who regularly phones them for a chat.

Morna O’May, who is overseeing the service, said: “Covid has had a huge impact on older people who have had to shield and isolate. Because of the length of time this is going on for, they are losing confidence in being able to get back out and about again in public.

“It is creating a situation where people who had a connection to their community are losing that and those who were already isolated are feeling it even more keenly.

“The Phone Friends service is an ideal way to make connections again from the safe environment of your own home.”

Food Train first opened its Phone Friends to members after volunteers made check-in calls to older people during lockdown – to ensure people were well and had all they needed – when many of its members were unable to enjoy the social side of shopping deliveries or days out organised by the charity.

That service has already seen volunteers make 1550 calls – chatting to older people for 28,000 minutes.

The response has been so positive that the service – which costs £5 per month to join – is being made available to non-members too. Phone calls can be weekly, fortnightly or less often if people wish.

Morna added: “Phone Friends allows a friendship to develop without having to involve any travelling or visiting which suits many older people and volunteers.

“We have volunteers vetted, trained and ready to be matched.”

For more information about Phone Friends, call 0800 048 9945 or email [email protected]

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