"When the phone rings, I just know that it is her" - How simply making a phone call can end loneliness

David Stork
David Stork

“When the phone rings, I just know that it is her”, 87-year-old David Stork said, shooting a glance at his telephone almost expectantly.

Mr Stork has been using Age UK North Yorkshire’s confidential telephone befriending service for seven years, and over those seven years he has enjoyed forming a friendship with volunteer Vanessa, who he talks to regularly.

He said: “She can talk as much as me, which is a lot, trust me, and I tell her things that I would not be able to tell anybody else. I find that talking about one thing will always lead to another, and I really look forward to her calls, they brighten your day.

“Vanessa has made such a huge difference to my life, I have a great laugh with her and enjoy sharing things. I think life can go too fast sometimes, so I think it is important that we do stop and just take the time to have a phone call and a chat.

“I just feel like I know her, and she knows me. I think I have a lot of stories to share, and she does too. We learn a lot from each other.

“And if there is ever a longer gap between us talking, it just means that we have lots to talk about when we talk to each other next time. I love telling her all my stories and things I have done in my life.

“I think anyone who is feeling lonely should consider using the service because it just means that you have someone to talk to, and you get to know the person really well. I know Vanessa really well now and she is a big part of my life. It feels like I have known her for even longer than I have.”

Age UK’s coordinator of the telephone befriending service Charlotte Seaton said: “I think the beauty of the telephone befriending service is that you can use it from the comfort of your armchair. Particularly during winter when you have long and dark evenings it’s great.

“Just taking a bit of time to talk to somebody can make an enormous difference to someone’s life.

“I know that Vanessa really enjoys talking to David as well, it is very much a two-way thing. Something as simple as picking up the phone and speaking to someone can really make a huge difference to someone and make them feel less lonely and isolated.”

Age UK’s Steps to Active Rehabilitation Project (STAR):

Age UK’s STAR project aims to support and enable people aged 60 and over to regain confidence, retain independence and enjoy life following illness, injury or a hospital stay. To find out more about the project’s range of activities and services, go to: www.ageuk.org.uk/northyorkshire/our_services/steps-to-active-rehabilitation-star
Do you know of a service which helps to ease loneliness and isolation in our district? I’d love to hear from you. Email: finola.fitzpatrick@jpress.co.uk

A call to action

The Harrogate Advertiser would like to invite readers to volunteer for Age UK’s telephone befriending service and spend some time talking to an older person. Many of Age UK’s volunteers have said that they enjoy the phone calls as much as the client.

Winter can be an especially lonely time, but we can all make a huge difference to someone’s life by simply making a phone call.

For some of Age UK’s clients, phone calls from a volunteer are the only social contact that they have in a week, and they look forward to them more than anything else.
In other cases, a client is surrounded by family, but they are often busy with their own children, and the client is the listener, rather than being listened to.

If you would like to volunteer for the telephone befriending service, or any of Age UK North Yorkshire’s other services, email: Catharine.Green@ageuknorthyorkshire.org.uk or call 01765 606872. If you would like more information about any of the services, or would like support from the services, email: Charlotte.Seaton@ageuknorthyorkshire.org.uk or call 07921 770553.

A new appeal

A report from the Mental Health Foundation reveals that nearly 60 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 feel lonely often or sometimes, and that this age group is the least likely to say that they are feeling lonely, for fear of embarrassment or stigma. As the Harrogate Advertiser’s Ending Loneliness campaign develops, we would like to hear from organisations which support young people who are feeling lonely and isolated.

Email: finola.fitzpatrick@jpress.co.uk or call 01423 707505.

Your response to our call to action - A letter from Bill Craven:

“You may be interested to hear about the many and varied activities Pannal Methodist Church offers to those in the neighbourhood and surrounding area. Our Community Teas are becoming increasingly popular and provide an opportunity for all to meet and chat over tea and homemade cakes. We also hold film nights on the first Friday of each month, a banner making and craft workshop on Monday afternoons and a Men’s Fellowship meeting monthly on Monday evenings to which we invite guest speakers to give short talks on a wide range of secular and spiritual topics before they break for refreshments. We also have two monthly book groups which meet in people’s homes and a walking group for those who like to be out in the open air. All these are free events, available to anybody who wants some company or try something different. For more information visit: www.niddvalleymethodist.org.uk/the-churches/pannal.”