If you're at a loose end during lockdown and want to do your bit to help, you could become a 'Call Companion' for the elderly.
While the nation is confined largely indoors for the next few weeks, many people will be feeling more isolated and alone than ever. This is especially true of elderly people, who have been advised to practice "shielding" and remain indoors at all times (or as much as is possible).
To alleviate the problem, tea company PG tips has announced a partnership with Re-engage (a charity for the elderly) and is calling on the British public to volunteer as Call Companions.
What do Call Companions do?
Call Companions will provide emotional support over the phone to over-75s in their community, in order to ensure that mental well-being, as well as physical, is being catered to during the UK lockdown.
PG tips will be providing funding for around 2,000 Call Companion volunteers across the country, helping to build a support network for older people who might not have anybody else to speak to.
Volunteers will go through a robust training programme and security verification to ensure that proper safeguarding is upheld.
Re-enagage is a charity with a wealth of experience in the area of social isolation among the elderly, and will be giving volunteers appropriate guidance.
Before the pandemic began, the charity held regular social events - such as tea parties - for elderly people across the nation. However, they're now adapting to the challenges of lockdown to ensure that socialisation continues even while everyone is stuck at home.
How to get involved
To sign up for the volunteer programme, you'll need to visit the re-engage website.
Each volunteer will follow an induction checklist, including online confidentiality training and a work shadow scheme. This will equip them with all the right skills for helping older people over the phone.
You can also get involved with the scheme by referring an older person to it, via Re-engage's website.
Alternatively, if you can't become a Call Companion, you can donate money to the scheme, allowing Re-engage to continue its work fighting social isolation both during the pandemic and beyond it.