Volunteers offer helping hand to stop loneliness during coronavirus

Katie Marsden, coordinator for Thorpe Helping Hands. Pic: Thorpe Helping Hands

Katie Marsden, coordinator for Thorpe Helping Hands. Pic: Thorpe Helping Hands - Credit: Thorpe Helping Hands

A team of volunteers are helping to combat loneliness and isolation during the coronavirus pandemic - and say they are available for friendly chats with people who are struggling.

The Thorpe Helping Hands group is keen to contact people in the Thorpe Hamlet and Thorpe St Andrew areas who would like regular befriending calls.

The grassroots group - formed in responses to the pandemic - has set up a free ‘Check and Chat’ service to help combat loneliness.

Katie Marsden, coordinator at Thorpe Helping Hands said: “We already have five volunteers who regularly ring 10 residents in Thorpe St Andrew and Thorpe Hamlet.

“We also have more volunteers undergoing training and more residents lined up for the service.

“The lockdown means that many folk are self-isolating, so they have been stuck at home since March, with very little human contact, which can be depressing and worrying.

“We can collect shopping or prescriptions for them but this befriending service is a real bonus on top of those errands.

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“Our volunteers ring for a weekly chat and help keep the residents’ spirits up. We can check all is well and build a friendly rapport.

“We have been very impressed by the enthusiasm of our volunteers and we are getting lovely feedback from the residents about how this is making them feel.”

All volunteers are vetted before they begin calls and get training about issues such as safeguarding and communication skills.

One of the service users, who gets a call every week, said: “When I get the calls, I think there’s not much to say – but then I never stop talking, as it’s so nice to talk to someone friendly.

“I do enjoy talking to people. I am surprised that I have so much to talk about. People are stuck at home day after day, so it’s important to have phone calls.”

Thorpe Helping Hands covers Thorpe Hamlet, including Pilling Park and Borrowdale Drive NR1 areas, as well as the Thorpe St Andrew area.

As well as the ‘Check and Chat’ service, the group offers other support, such as deliveries of essentials, running errands and help with shopping.

The group can be contacted on email at thorpehelpinghands@gmail.com or through the Thorpe Helping Hands freephone number on 01622 370527.