Over the past two weeks, young people taking part in our Shrewsbury Town in the Community’s NCS programme have been helping to tackle loneliness and isolation across Shropshire as part of the #KeepDoingGood campaign.
Statistics from Age UK suggest that 17 percent of older people in the UK are in contact with family, friends or neighbours less than once a week, and 11 percent in contact less than once a month. More specifically, it is estimated that 10,000 older people in Shropshire are feeling “deeply lonely”. With this, young people from Shrewsbury have made it their mission to kick start the initiative by volunteering over 30-hours to contribute to the NCS Trust’s aim in reaching 1 million hours of doing good across the country this summer!
The first two-week programme saw NCS young people make 350 phone calls to the over 65’s population in the county, spending a total of 2,100 minutes, checking on their wellbeing and personal life, offering a helping hand and generally having a natter! Before making the calls, the young people received training from STITC’s Health Activator to ensure they were able to connect with individuals over the phone and gain the confidence to engage in conversations. Shrewsbury Town in the Community’s NCS project were delighted to have been donated 20 new mobile phones with credit from Tesco Mobile in order to make the calls.
The young people also successfully organised and launched a new Pen Pal scheme, aiming to connect older adults in their local communities. In just five days, the young people registered over 20 Pen Pals and sent postcards, stamps, newsletters and free café vouchers to get them started.
Jensen, a Shrewsbury NCS volunteer and prospective BTEC student at STITC, has been making the calls throughout the initiative. He said;
“It’s been really good to get out and do something! Being at home throughout lockdown has been hard but I can’t imagine what it’s been like for those who are alone! I’ve really enjoyed being part of a team, tackling loneliness and making a difference. I’ve spoken to over 40 people and they’ve all welcomed my calls, with some I was on the phone for over 20 minutes!
I’ve also improved my confidence in talking to someone over the phone, while getting those in need of support back in to the community, I’m so pleased I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer and make a difference”
Anna, the NCS Coordinator at STITC is ecstatic at the achievement of the young people. She said:
“It’s absolutely amazing to see our young people dedicating their time to do something so amazing for those who are facing being alone day in and day out.
The calls our young people are making are the life line that some of these people need. One of the ladies that we phoned was so thankful as she hadn’t spoken to someone for over 2 weeks and expressed how these calls are reassuring that someone is thinking about them during these times of uncertainty”
In total, 756 collective hours have been volunteered by the Shrewsbury NCS participants to help tackle isolation and loneliness in their local area and up-skill themselves with workshops such as CV writing, interview skills and public speaking.