‘Sometimes you just want a brew and a good chat!’

Lockdown was hard for lots of us but especially those people who were already isolated or lonely; those living alone without family. But Covid 19 also brought about new isolation as more people had to shield away from usual social activities, grandparents were separated from grandchildren and more people were working from home.

Like many others in theses strange times Staying Well have had to adapt and work a bit a little bit different at the moment so that we’re still here for old and new clients. One of the ways we’ve done this is our new Telephone Befriending service that runs across Calderdale offering regular contact and welfare calls to meet this increased isolation.

Our staff and bank of friendly volunteers are here to make sure no one has to feel alone. There’s is no replacement for a face to face chat but while that’s not possible we’re seeing how regular phone calls are helping to brighten peoples day and give them a sense of belonging; bringing joy to their lives.

It’s so nice to know that person is calling it shows there’s care for you.

Neither George nor Anne were known to the Staying Well project before this year but both ended up ‘part of the family’ through the crisis that engulfed the earlier part of this year. George lives alone with no family and was finding himself very isolated due to lockdown and the destruction of his normal routine. George initially came to the team looking for shopping support but he also mentioned how lonely he felt. Anne approached as a volunteer – she had a big sense of wanting to give something back.

Anne began giving George a call once a week to provide a friendly ear and a happy chatter – but after several months this has now turned into calls 2 or 3 times a week with a strong bond developing between them. Anne has also taken a lot from the calls commenting how it has given her a different sense of purpose and that great fuzzy feeling that comes from helping and caring for others!

Living alone isn’t easy, once the door closes, you are on your own.

Iris approached the council in early April as she was finding herself very scared to go out even to get her essential shopping. Not being one of those who were officially shielding but having health conditions that made her vulnerable, as well as existing issues with managing anxiety, she felt very worried about how things were developing in the county and was concerned that she had no family nearby to rely on.

Staying Well supported Iris in a practical way with regular shopping but made regular befriending calls to her too. Since restrictions have eased she has challenged herself to start some of her old routines again and found having someone to bounce concerns and ideas off very helpful. Working thongs through with her Staying Well worker, Iris has been able to spend time with her sister, navigate the local lockdown rules, and manage her anxieties in a way that means she is always taking steps to maintain and improve her wellbeing. The journey might not be over but the way forward is being worked out together.

I feel happy and cared for which makes it easier to care for others.

Parishkar was referred into Staying Well in early April – she lived alone with her young child and had been struggling with isolation for a while. Regular calls from a Staying Well worker and more recently a volunteer has helped Parishkar both navigate the difficulties of lockdown but also adjust to her new home and build confidence, self esteem and a connection to her community.

As Parishkar and her daughter have begun able to mix with more people again she is noticing this difference and feels it has made a big difference to how she feels but also in how she can be the best mother.

Our main message is that Staying Well is still here for you….if in doubt get in touch. A member of the team can discuss with you how best we can help you be happier and healthier whatever may be happening around us.

Contact us on 01422 392767 or email stayingwellproject @calderdale.gov.uk if you, or someone you know is isolated or vulnerable.