A listening ear during this crisis

Slough Council for Voluntary Service (Slough CVS) is working together with Slough Borough Council and local groups to coordinate an army of volunteers to help people in the borough through the One Slough initiative. 

Top left: Sutyee Pang, Bottom left: Cllr Preston Brooker, Middle: Nisha, Right: Manjit Birk

Wellbeing Friends is a new initiative started last month by the One Slough Community Response Team. Wellbeing Friend relationships are informal social relationships by telephone that are initiated, supported, and monitored by Slough CVS for clients who are elderly and/or self-isolating.

Yvette Hockley, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Slough CVS said, “This role can make such a big difference to someone’s life, so matching the right volunteer with a client is so important. Added to that, they also have to be friendly and warm, re-assuring, have good listening skills and feel empathy towards the client. So far, we have 27 lovely DBS checked Wellbeing Friends who we are supporting with safeguarding and confidentiality training, with more due to come onboard soon.” 

Abdul Azad, Wellbeing & Carers Manager, Slough CVS said, “We are lucky to have experienced trainer, Doreen Gowing who is providing additional support to the Wellbeing Friends with one to one phone calls, group social Zoom sessions and a training session.”

Becoming a Wellbeing Friend has proved to be the ideal volunteering opportunity for adults who have other commitments within the home.

One Wellbeing Friend is Manjit Birk, a GoodGym Slough volunteer, “I offered to help Slough CVS with wellbeing calls a few weeks ago; right now it was the only constructive way that I could help. With a young family at home I can’t go out too much to help with shopping type tasks so these daily/weekly phone calls seemed like the perfect solution. I’ve now been speaking to four residents for just over two weeks and already we have build up a great rapport. They are so grateful to be checked in on and it makes me feel like my little contribution to our community is making a difference.”

Speaking to others has been beneficial to both the client and the Wellbeing Friend.

Sutyee Pang, Wellbeing Friend Volunteer said, “Making daily welfare calls to families/individuals who are in isolation to check on their welfare and if they need any groceries or medication is also helping me to stay positive by helping others in need.”

Volunteers have commented on how easy it is to add this essential volunteering role into their daily lives.

Cllr Preston Brooker, Deputy Mayor, said: “This is my usual spot in the front room where I make all my phone calls and conference calls.”

Many volunteers have been unable to take part in their usual outdoor activities but still wanted to play an active role during this crisis.

Nisha, Wellbeing Friend Volunteer said, “With a busy lifestyle, working, kids, and trying to get fit, I love getting involved in the community and being able to volunteer, usually helping with Slough GoodGym and junior parkrun. I wanted to help people who need support in this very difficult time.  So no question from me, I just had to get involved and volunteer with Slough CVS. My role is calling elderly people who are isolated and ensuring medicine and/or food or any support required is accessible for them. Just as important is having a nice chat. It’s a difficult time for everyone, I wanted to get involved, give my support to the community and make a difference.”

We are so grateful to all of our Wellbeing Friends who make huge difference to local residents, with one commenting, ”I had a really long chat with my Wellbeing Friend, it was lovely to have someone to talk to, it really cheered me up.”