Isolated residents in the East Riding of Yorkshire are now able to pick up the phone for support and friendship, thanks to CallER Collective, a new service launched by HEY Smile Foundation, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and a collective of local charitable organisations.
The service will be entirely manned by a home-based army of volunteers who will be at the end of the telephone to offer both a friendly ear and advice for those feeling alone and worried during the COVID-19 pandemic. HEY Smile Foundation anticipates that both the volunteers and the callers will hugely benefit from this fantastic new service.
People have come forward from right across the region to help, including those that are already signed up as volunteers for Absolutely Cultured, the legacy arm of Hull2017 City of Culture to combat social isolation across the East Riding of Yorkshire.
This facility has been set up in just ten days thanks to the efforts of local organisations including Humber Teaching NHS Trust and the One Point, a long-term Smile supporter. All costs of the service have been funded by a generous local donor. So far, 42 volunteers have received their induction and training with 35 calls received during a trial phase.
“What has been achieved in such a short space of time is just staggering,” said Andy Barber, CEO of the HEY Smile Foundation. “Everything, from the technical support from the One Point to the recruitment and training of our volunteers, has all been put in place so quickly and professionally, and it’s all been achieved without anyone leaving their house! We can’t thank everyone involved enough.”
“There are so many people across our region who sadly aren’t able to get support from family and friends. They are not only facing the day-to-day challenge of physical isolation, they have to cope with social isolation as well. We can help tackle that by giving people the option to pick up the phone and have a quick natter. And where needed, they can also get reassurance that the right help can be put in place.”
“I signed up to connect with local people,” said June, a volunteer in Beverley. “I wanted to do something positive but couldn’t volunteer in my normal way in the community. This gives me the opportunity to play my part in supporting local people during this difficult time. So far the calls have created laughter and tears, leaving me feeling like I’m truly making a difference from the safety of my own home.”
The CallER service is available through a single, local phone number – 01482 215929. Calls into the service are routed out to a pool of registered and trained volunteers and an available volunteer answers the phone in their own home. This service is operation 8am to 10pm every day.
Anybody needing support beyond befriending are still encouraged to contact the East Riding of Yorkshire Council team on 01482 393919.
[Sarah Shepherdson – HEY Smile Foundation]