I set up this service in April 2020, to help the lonely and isolated people of Wakefield who were struggling with the lockdown and feeling very vulnerable with little contact with other people.
There was and still is a huge need for people to have some social interaction with others, especially during these unprecedented times when most face to face contact has disappeared.
Clients are referred to us via a secure online referral form and GDPR is agreed between the referee and client to share their information with us. I manage the system and assign calls to our volunteers, who then ring the client at a date and time to suit them. They have a 20-30 2-way conversation with the client, sometimes our call is the only voice they will interact with that day.
As well as having a “chat” with our clients, our volunteers also check up on their wellbeing, living conditions etc. and do signposting and further referrals where necessary.
In the last eight months, we have made over 3000 calls, done around 30 suicide interventions with Samaritans, organised food parcels and even delivered food in desperate cases, reported numerous Safeguarding referrals and liaised with so many other organisations and services to get help and support to our clients when needed.
I’m most proud of the fantastic reputation CiaC now has with callers, referring agencies and throughout the district. I’ve also been blown away by the cohesive working and cooperation of every agency we have called upon; everyone seems to be “pulling out the stops” to help each other.
We are just completing our second survey with our clients and their comments and feedback has been amazing. Everyone loves the service. Many say that one of the best things is that we will always call when we say we will and we will always try again if they are unavailable or unable to talk. They say our volunteers are caring and they listen. All our volunteers are trained listeners, so show tremendous empathy, are non-judgemental, patient and kind.
Here are some very recent quotes:
“Brilliant service, life saver, it’s helped me cope”
“I was desperately unhappy where I was living, you’ve helped me so much”
“Fantastic support, good to know someone kind is going to call me”
“Given me the confidence to speak and have a conversation”
“It’s my life line, best thing since sliced bread”
I am trying to get the message out that being listened to and being allowed to talk through your issues and feelings can be as beneficial and in some cases, more beneficial, than medication or intervention treatment.
I have also been running active listening skills webinars and wellbeing webinars to try to offer a little help to those who are overwhelmed helping others. Having more people trained in spotting signs of mental ill health, suicide ideation and having the skills and tools on how to talk to others about these subjects and what to do and where to get help, would be so good for everyone. It would be a tremendous help in alleviating the loneliness and isolation of mental ill health and suicide ideation if we could remove the stigma of these illness resulting in many more lives saved from suicide.
CiaC was set up as a temporary 3-month project, it has now been running for 8 months and we are hoping to continue until March 2021 if we can obtain funding, due to the unprecedented need for this service and the referral rate increasing.
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