Volunteers offer residents company and chat via the council

Residents feeling lonely can enjoy company and chat from phone calls, letters, online or on the doorstep, arranged for the first time through City of York Council.

Starting in this, Loneliness Awareness Week (15-19 June), residents can choose between telephone calls, doorstep natters (socially distanced, of course) or letters. Another option is the offer of help to connect residents to their family and friends through their own smartphone, tablet or computer.

Residents can set up any of these ways of making contact through a single point of contact with the council, which will link them to the group they choose. Carefully chosen volunteers from a range of voluntary organisations will then make contact on the residents’ terms.

The council is working with a wide range of voluntary groups and organisations to bring together these options. For the first time, the options are being shared with residents via one telephone number, email address and weblink.

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for health and adult social care, said: “Having made contact with so many isolated people through our Covid-19 Help scheme, these links to company and a chat will help us combat some of the difficult effects of loneliness.

“It will also enable us to maintain links with these residents and connect them with other local sources of company and support.

“If you or someone you know is isolated and feeling lonely, and would love some company or a chat, please call 01904 551550 or email COVID19Help@york.gov.uk.

“Tell us how you would like to be contacted, and a carefully-chosen, friendly volunteer will get in touch in your preferred way.”

The organisations supporting this social contact include York Cares, Move the Masses, North Yorkshire Police volunteers, Age UK York, Health Champions, MySight, as well as the council’s Local Area Coordinators and York Learning staff.

York Cares volunteers will arrange for letters to be sent with the hope of penpal friendships developing. Move the Masses will deploy its volunteers to visit residents requesting a socially-distanced chat on the doorstep. The council’s group of over 4,000 volunteers have helped to establish or bolster many of the social contact offers, and volunteers with social media and IT skills can call residents and guide them to set up and contact friends and family via social media networks like Facebook, Messenger, or free conference facilities like Zoom and Skype.

To find out more, please go to https://www.livewellyork.co.uk/s4s/WhereILive/Council?pageId=5233