COVID-19 | News

SLaM Volunteering starts telephone befriending service in response to COVID-19

Over 50 Volunteers have so far been matched with service users, and they are now providing regular telephone calls to support service users with their mental health

By Liz Morrow · April 20, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, sadly many of the services the Charity provides support and funding to are unable to function as they normally would. However, some are finding ways to adjust to the circumstances and provide extra help to those with mental health problems at this critical time.  

One such service is the Volunteering program at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), which is asking for its members to consider becoming Telephone Befrienders.

Over 5Volunteers have so far been matched with service users, and they are now providing regular telephone calls to support service users with their mental health

Sahana is a Telephone Befriender at SLaM

My name is Sahana, and I was previously a service user within SLaM. I have always wanted to give to others and with my experience in pre-medical science I knew I could do something to help. 

I started my journey as a volunteer in January 2020. My role was to give I.T Support to service users who may need a little help and encouragement. This could be getting them to use the computer in a safe manner or teaching useful tools to help them with day to day tasks e.g. creating an email or looking up for local activities around the area.  

However, my role has changed significantly due to the current coronavirus crisis. I no longer actively see my patients nor do my role in I.T support 

I decided to become a Telephone Befriender. I speak to patients at least twice a week over the phone and we have regular conversations about what we’ve been doing, and plan to do for the next few days. I call my clients on Mondays and Fridays as we tend to have a lot more to talk about and it’s a way of welcoming the weekend or the week ahead of us.  

Over time as this becomes part of our daily lives, my client has recently expressed gratitude for just being there. Through sharing stories and laughing at the little things in life, you quickly create bonds with people. In times like these, loneliness hits people even harder and makes life more challenging, so I’m glad that my work has an impact.”