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Better Together becomes a ChitChat champion

PUBLISHED: 15:48 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:48 11 August 2020

The free ChitChat phone service is a great way to cobat loneliness, with volunteers available for a chat about anything from the weather to the price of mil   Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The free ChitChat phone service is a great way to cobat loneliness, with volunteers available for a chat about anything from the weather to the price of mil Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

Voluntary Norfolk’s Better Together team has been working hard to help its clients through the Covid-19 pandemic, including volunteering and getting involved in community creative activities.

Volunteering offers a sense of purpose

One of the simplest ways to combat loneliness is by volunteering to offer an ear to a stranger. Voluntary Norfolk’s Better Together team have been looking for extra ways to help people who are suffering from loneliness through the Covid-19 pandemic, including partnering up with ChitChat, a new non-profit organisation developed during lockdown. It offers a free phone and online chat service where people can have a friendly conversation about the weather, sport, the price of milk, anything really. 

The Better Together team have been referring lonely and isolated people to ChitChat, but have been going one step further by encouraging some clients to 
become ChitChat volunteers.

“We often recommend volunteering to our clients, for the sense of purpose and direction it gives, the chance to meet new people and because volunteering really helps people to feel that they are giving something back,” explains Better Together service manager Laura Bloomfield. “Some volunteering opportunities are not available at the moment because of social distancing, but becoming a ChitChat volunteer is a really positive step that, after some online training, clients can do from their home. 

Liz has been helped throughout lockdown by Better Together Life Connector Katie Snazell  Picture: Better TogetherLiz has been helped throughout lockdown by Better Together Life Connector Katie Snazell Picture: Better Together

“We are really looking forward to our first Better Together client becoming a ChitChat national volunteer. It will a proud moment for them, and for us.”

Get comfy, grab a brew and start a conversation.

The ChitChat phone lines are open 9am-9pm daily on 0333 002 0333 or visit the website at www.chitchatbritain.org

Liz has also got involved with Better Together’s Post a Smile activity, where people are encouraged to connect through cards and letters  Picture: Better TogetherLiz has also got involved with Better Together’s Post a Smile activity, where people are encouraged to connect through cards and letters Picture: Better Together

Case study: Liz gets creative

Better Together Life Connector Katie Snazell has been supporting Liz since early March. Liz lives alone and was keen to build a bigger network of social support as she has been isolated due to her long-term mental and physical health issues. 

“When I first started working with Liz she expressed an interest in taking part in creative activities, so we made a plan to find some local sewing/quilting groups for her to join, but then lockdown happened and all groups were stopped due to Covid-19,” explains Katie. 

“Liz has found lockdown particularly difficult, not least because she has had two stays in hospital, with pneumonia and suspected Covid-19. Returning home from hospital to an empty house was particularly hard.”

Better Together Life Connector Katie Snazell  Picture: Better TogetherBetter Together Life Connector Katie Snazell Picture: Better Together

Katie has been supporting Liz throughout the past four months with regular welfare calls, emails and one emergency face-to-face meeting to try to get Liz’s computer fixed.

Katie has also been able to maintain Liz’s interest and talents in creative activities through the Hearts for Covid Patients crochet and knitting scheme.

“As Liz had firsthand experience of what it was like to be isolated from family and friends on a Covid ward, she was keen and excited to engage,” says Katie, adding that Liz has also been involved in Better Together’s Post a Smile activity, in which people are encouraged to connect through cards and letters.

“Katie has started the ball rolling to my long-term recovery,” says Liz. “Without her calls and support I may have started self-harming again. I am excited to what we can achieve when we meet face to face again.”

To find out more at www.bettertogethernorfolk.org.uk

Norwich Together Alliance

Voluntary Norfolk and Better Together are members of the Norwich Together Alliance.

In a time of isolation, helping communities to connect has never been more important. It’s vital for our health and wellbeing.

With an ambition to tackle loneliness and social isolation in Norwich, Aviva established the Norwich Together Alliance last year.

The alliance is a network of local businesses, charities and the council that have joined forces to explore how we can shape our city to help us all feel more connected.

The aim is to create a more connected and cohesive city for everyone.

Now more than ever, alliance members want to be there for you and offer the support and guidance you need to get through this challenging time.

For more information and stories on what the Norwich Together Alliance members are doing to bring Norwich Together, click here.


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