In March 2020 we launched a Befriending phone service in response to the COVID 19 lockdown. The aim of the service was to support people who were experiencing loneliness and isolation due to shielding or a loss of social and support networks. We recognised that not being able to connect with friends or family, go shopping, or even interacting with strangers was having a negative impact on people. Individuals were really struggling and needed to talk.
The demand for our service during the first lockdown conveyed just how helpful it is for our communities to have local support. By the end of September, we had provided 4,698 hours of phone support as part of our befriending phone service and received 25,237 phone calls.
During this time our service was reactive and we were able to respond to crisis situations with access to food and clothing whilst also connecting people to wider organisations for support with benefits, debt, housing , mental health support, social care and health agencies.
It became clear that people required a service with a dual focus on listening and practical solutions with an overall aim of connecting people to each other and their communities via social and physical opportunities. It is within this space that Listen and Connect was founded.
Feedback from people we support through Listen and Connect includes:
“I would have been lost without you in the first couple of weeks, I’m really grateful for the service, the fact that it wasn’t a formal conversation … The food parcels too, I would have been lost without them. It was having that understanding from a complete stranger who understood the difficulties because we’re all in this together. It has made it easier to shield with organisations like yours”.
“The service I received was incredibly friendly, it was professional with a real concern for my wellbeing. The calls provided light relief in a time of uncertainty and were a breath of fresh air to my lockdown existence. You did a great job”.
Listen and Connect provides a telephone support service that offers a safe space for people to feel heard and to talk about what is important to them. What makes us unique is that the service sits within a wider network of support services within The Active Wellbeing Society – meaning that we can offer practical solutions with links to clothing and food support, Share Shacks (borrowing tools and sharing practical skills), holistic delivery and our Social Prescribing team. We have an experienced and knowledgeable team that can provide up to 12 weeks of assistance for people to live well, be active, access information and advice. As well as connecting them to opportunities within their communities to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.
Elisabeth Sheppard, Wellbeing Programme Manager:
‘’I feel privileged to be part of Listen and Connect – it really is a special service. On a daily basis the team offer a person centred, safe and non-judgemental space for people to be able to talk about what matters to them. Whilst offering practical solutions to immediate issues and working alongside people to create a stable space; in which to explore longer term connections with education, employment or social and physical activities in their communities. Listen and Connect makes a difference to people’s lives.’’
Our Listen & Connect service is available to residents of Birmingham who are 18+ who may be feeling concerned, lonely, anxious or simply in need of advice or signposting to other services. If you or someone you know, would like to speak to someone from our team then please get in touch with us through this form or by calling us on 0121 728 7030