In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we started a telephone befriending project to keep our isolated Marmalade members connected.
When the lockdown started, our small team were regularly in touch with over 200 of our members to check they had access to food and medication and to offer support and reassurance. Many of our members already experienced loneliness and isolation and this was only exacerbated during the pandemic. Our members are like family to us and we wanted to be there for them during this difficult time. We have therefore decided to increase our support and provide an interim telephone companion service.
We put a call out to our community asking for volunteers, and we were overwhelmed with the response, and before long, we had around 50 volunteers linked to companions. Our wonderful volunteers continue to provide a form of comfort, connection and community to our members during this challenging time, and are finding volunteering to be a rewarding and enriching experience as well.
Here is some feedback from our Marmalade companions so far:
“I can’t tell you what it means to know someone out there is thinking of little old me”
“I always feel brighter and smiley after chatting to my companion”
“Now that I’m not going to any of my weekly activities, I don’t really speak to anyone all week. These calls are very much appreciated.”
Gifts of Joy
One of our members lost her only friend to coronavirus and was feeling alone. Another was keeping herself busy with knitting, but ran out of wool and couldn’t go to the shops. Another had been in hospital, and was going to come home to an empty house.
We wanted to be able to send little gifts to let our members to let when know we’re thinking of them and that they’re not alone in this. We set up a fundraiser on Facebook asking for donations which would go directly to funding gifts. It was an opportunity to come together, even when we had to stay apart. We were blown away with the generosity of our community, and we were delighted to raise over £510 in a matter of weeks!
We are working with a wonderful Bristol based florist – Floriography – who are putting together and delivering beautiful bunches of flowers. We’re also pleased to be able to send art packs, colouring books, potted plants, wool and even a pencil sharpener to those members who are having a particularly hard time.
As we are such a small team, we’re not currently able to expand our companion service to new members. We are working alongside a new Support Hub for older people and their families to cope with the impact of coronavirus in Bristol. So, if you’re in the Bristol area and you need more support, please do get in touch with the Support Hub.