CallER Collective was launched by HEY Smile Foundation during the pandemic, in 2020. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, offering hope to scores of people in the region.
The service is staffed by a combination of volunteers and paid staff and more volunteers are needed to reach those most in need. In 2021, befrienders spent 808 hours chatting to people registered with the service.
Marie Lyons, CallER Collective Co-ordinator, said: “We are very proud of the time our befrienders put into listening, and we want to be able to consistently be a listening ear for people in need. In order to do that we need to recruit more volunteers. Being a befriender means offering a modest amount of time, an hour a week, but that hour is incredibly important to the people we are reaching. It might be the only regular contact people have and it is a lifeline. It’s easy to volunteer when the initial signing up and training is done, as it’s literally ringing someone from their own home then logging the call.”
To become a volunteer you have to take part in a two-hour online training session, as well as a one-to-one session with a trainer. CallER Collective offers consistent support to volunteers, so you will never be left without a listening ear yourself.
Gillian McKenna, who began volunteering in 2020, said: “It is the most important two hours of my week. I know I make a difference to the ladies I talk to and they make a difference to me. I am proud of the work I have done and I would encourage anyone who is interested in taking part to find out more, I think it is life changing.”
Ann, who has been receiving calls for nearly three years, said: “I was really down before I started receiving calls. Getting a weekly call has probably saved my life. I love the person who calls me. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
To find out more about volunteering, please visit www.callercollective.co.uk