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Dear Telephone Volunteer,

Thank you so much for signing up to the Friendly phone support line, your time is hugely appreciated in this current crisis and hopefully this volunteer guide can give you an idea of what support you can offer.

In this guide we try to answer as many questions as possible, however, if you need anything else please get in touch with Piero Stallo.

What is the Friendly Line phone number?
01865 570 235

My caller needs more than just a chat. He/she needs practical help. What do I do?
Please make a referral to the central Oxford Together team by clicking here.

Who is this Friendly Line for?
This anti-loneliness friendly line is open to anyone - regardless of age or gender. Anyone who is feeling lonely can pick up the phone, dial our number and a volunteer will be there ready to listen!

How does it work? How do I pick up a call?
Our friendly line will be operational 7 days a week from 10am to 4pm.
We have a call handling system that welcomes the caller, reminds them of the numbers to call if they have a medical (or any other) emergency and automatically forwards the call to all "front line" volunteers. The first volunteer to answer will be the one that takes the call forward.
If no front-line volunteer picks up the call within 15-20 seconds, the call is forwarded to all "backup" volunteers.

How will I know that an incoming call is from the friendly line?
When our call handling system phones you and you answer it, a recorded message will let you know that you're about to be connected with someone that's feeling lonely. This headsup will allow you to take the call appropriately.
In other words, you will know that the call is not coming from one of your friends! :o)

What happens if I hang up before being connected?
The caller's line will drop and they'll hear a busy tone.

Will my phone number be shared with the caller?
No, never. The call forwarding will happen automatically and the caller will not know your number.

Will there be a cost to me for taking these calls?
No. You will only be receiving calls, so it will be totally free to you.

How much will it cost to call our Friendly Line?
The same as any other local, landline call.

When does the service run and who runs it?
The phone line was set up by Piero Stallo, but it is staffed by kind volunteers every day from 10am to 4pm. There will be an answering service to pick up calls that occur outside of these times.

What is the purpose of the phone call?
We have set up a phone line to offer a service to Oxford residents in need of a bit of a natter and take their mind off Covid 19 and help reduce feelings of loneliness and bolster the spirits of local residents.

What do we talk about?
The foremost purpose of the phone call is a friendly voice, tell the caller your name, then maybe discuss their interests, the weather, if they have any pets etc or simply offer a listening ear which is invaluable in itself.

So, are we just offering a friendly chat over the phone?
Yes, that’s right. We are offering a friendly chat to someone who is in need.
This phone line will not be able to offer public health advice / financial advice but here you can find the resources you need to help you direct callers who need more dedicated support.

Please do not offer to undertake the non-urgent, practical tasks yourselves, that is outside the remit of this phone volunteer group.
If a caller requires help with practical tasks, this guide will help you refer them to other support groups that can help.

Don’t forget we are an informal group of volunteers (ie not DBS checked or trained), so if you feel outside of your comfort zone, don’t feel bad and explain to the caller that while you can’t help, there are other resources to help.

Also, never share your bank of credit/debit card details to anyone. No matter how desperate things may seem for your caller.

I am very concerned about an individual. What do I do?
If you do speak to someone who you think may be struggling more than you can help with there are lots of resources out there.

Further support to more vulnerable isolated individuals:
This information has come from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you get any calls from high risk residents, please ask them to contact either of the council support lines – or do so yourself and provide us with their details. This should hopefully help to relieve a little bit of the burden on you and will help us make sure we know where the most vulnerable people are and where volunteer groups need the most help.

Important note:  If you are aware of anybody that needs urgent help and you can help them – please do so. Do not wait for us to pass a request on.

Anybody the NHS has identified as high risk can call Oxfordshire County Council on 01865 897 820 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This new, dedicated line provides advice and support to our extremely vulnerable residents that don’t have a support network.

If anybody calls the line but isn’t in the NHS high risk category, the county council will forward them on to our new community support line. Anybody that doesn’t have anybody around them to help can also contact directly us on that line on 01235 422600 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We will provide practical help and guidance to vulnerable residents. We will then match anybody that needs urgent help with the right local volunteer group, like yourselves, who can provide them with what they need.

Both the county council and our support lines and email addresses operate from 8.30am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm on weekends.

For wellbeing guidance there is a lot of information available on the Mind website and also Age UK

Age UK Oxfordshire – advice, information and support for older people about coronavirus

Coronavirus and your wellbeing | Mind Oxford

Where can I get more information about volunteering?
 A new website has also been launched by Oxfordshire All In to Support Groups across the county supporting people in response to COVID 19:
https://civicrm.ocva.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=62276&qid=3390272
 

What about information on safeguarding/data protection?
Volunteer link up have provided some useful guidance regarding safe guarding and data protection:
https://ocva.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/volunteer-link-up-advice.docx
 

After talking to a caller, I’m feeling a little down and overwhelmed. Who can I speak to?
After a chat with a particularly vulnerable person, you may end up feeling very low yourself. Please don’t bottle everything in. If you’re feeling down, please let us know by emailing Piero Stallo. One of our more experienced volunteers will reach out to you and help you feel better again!

And finally, thank you!

We are so grateful that you have agreed to sign up for this service which we hope will offer an outlet for those in our community who are feeling the effects of isolation and simply in need of a good natter. Although we can’t offer face to face meetings it’s good to talk.

 

 

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