Friendship scheme for those living in Greater London
A new telephone friendship scheme is being launched in Greater London for disabled people who feel isolated and cut off from their communities. Many disabled people have little opportunity to meet others and can spend days alone without even hearing the sound of another human voice.
To alleviate this problem, the charity Community Network is planning to use state-of-the-art telephone conferencing technology to set up a number of telephone befriending groups, allowing disabled people to link up on the phone and enjoy the social interaction that most of us take for granted. Each group will have 6 to 8 members who will be able to regularly link up for up to an hour, giving them the opportunity to chat, share experiences and make new friends. All calls will be free to those taking part.
As part of the charity’s policy of promoting self-help initiatives, Community Network is also seeking a number of disabled people to volunteer as telephone group facilitators. They will receive training in how to manage a telephone befriending group successfully: from the basic practicalities through to guidelines on how to get every participant involved and to deal with any difficulties that may arise. Moreover, once fully trained it is hoped that the volunteers may eventually work part-time for the charity as paid telephone group facilitators.
”Telephone befriending groups can transform the lives of those taking part,” says Community Network’s CEO, Pat Fitzsimons. “As well as tackling the serious problem of social isolation, we have seen how learning new skills can provide a huge boost to the self-esteem of those acting as group leaders.”
To fund the scheme Community Network has been awarded £5,000 by Access to Volunteering, a pilot project run by the Office for Civil Society that aims to increase the number of disabled people volunteering by providing grants to supporting organisations.
July 6, 2010