Phone volunteers are a lifeline

A new WRVS telephone befriending service which has been piloted in Manton and proved so successful it's being rolled out across the whole of Bassetlaw. One of the people who has used the service is Alan Lawman. Alan is pictured with volunteers Jane Hodgson and Jeannine Hirst (w110524-17a)
A new WRVS telephone befriending service which has been piloted in Manton and proved so successful it's being rolled out across the whole of Bassetlaw. One of the people who has used the service is Alan Lawman. Alan is pictured with volunteers Jane Hodgson and Jeannine Hirst (w110524-17a)

WHEN health problems keep you house-bound the feeling of isolation can be overwhelming, particularly if you live on your own.

That was the situation facing 91-year-old Alan Lawman when he got home after spending three weeks in hospital with gout.

But then he was handed a lifeline in the form of a new telephone befriending service run by the WRVS charity.

The scheme was launched in Manton last year and has been so successful it will be extended to the whole of Bassetlaw next month.

Alan, who lives in Manton, said the weekly Monday morning phone call is something he looks forward to.

“It’s nice to know someone is ringing and checking up on me and I can ask for help if I need anything,” said the former lorry driver, who served during the Second World War with the Sherwood Foresters and REME and still attends Worksop’s Remembrance Sunday service.

The friendly voice on the other end of the line for Alan is WRVS volunteer Jeannine Hirst, 37, of Rose Avenue, Retford.

She said: “We chat about what he’s been up to and whether he’s been out on his scooter or if the district nurses or his carers have been in.”

Jeannine has been volunteering since January for two mornings a week and speaks to about eight people regularly.

This is National Volunteer Week and the WRVS is appealing for more people to come forward to help with the service as it prepares to go district-wide.

WRVS service coordinator Claire Staley, who is herself a telephone volunteer, said: “We have six volunteers at the moment and are in the process of training three more, but we need more so that we can offer the service to more people who need it.”

“It’s very flexible and volunteers can work at a time that’s convenient for them. We have people who come into the office to make their calls, and people who make the calls from home. We cover all expenses.”

Volunteer Jane Hodgson, 61, of Main Street, North Leverton, makes her calls on a Thursday evening.

She said: “I’ve been volunteering with the WRVS for about ten years and used to help with the home from hospital service. Then because of personal circumstances I couldn’t do that any more so I now do the telephone befriending.”

“The people I ring say they look forward to hearing from me and I find it very rewarding. I would recommend volunteering to anyone.”

WRVS service manager Videlle Hamlet said volunteers receive full training which covers client confidentiality and boundaries, and they take part in role play to make sure they are comfortable with chatting to people on the phone.

She said: “We have all sorts of people volunteering for us, some work full time as well, and some are people looking for experience because they want to get into social care.”

“We rely on volunteers for all the services we run, such as the books on wheels service taking library books out to people.”

Telephone befriending is offered to people over 55 who have been in hospital or are suffering from a long term health condition and who live in Bassetlaw. Support can be offered weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

To find out more about the service or to volunteer call 01777 707547 or email bassetlaw@wrvs.org.uk.