Recent analysis of our call companions service shows older people are happier, less lonely and more satisfied with their lives after receiving the calls.
Since launching call companions at the beginning of the lockdown last April, we’ve matched over 2,000 older people with a volunteer call companion.
After surveying more than 100 of those who have been receiving their calls for six months, the significant impact our volunteers are having on their lives is clear.
“It's like a light shining through in these dark times.”
Based on the ONS indicators of loneliness, 84% of older people joining the call companion service are lonely. It’s not surprising, then, that loneliness is the most cited reason people give for joining the service.
Many of the older people surveyed also told us they rarely have contact with people and they don’t feel part of a community.
“I chewed her ear off and we had plenty to talk about. It’s really nice knowing someone is going to call and chat.”
After six months of receiving calls from their call companions, 92% of older people reported feeling happy, and only 3% reported feelings of unhappiness after the same period.
The results also show that, for many, the calls have had a positive effect on their wellbeing. In fact, we found a 15% increase in those feeling more satisfied with their life, and a 25% increase in those feeling the things they do in their life are worthwhile.
“It’s fantastic - I look forward to my calls. She's very nice. We have a lot in common - she's an Arsenal supporter like me!”
In addition to this, our findings show a 28% drop in older people who say they often feel lonely, and fewer said they lack companionship and feel isolated from others.
This is hugely significant at a time when, according to ONS* figures, loneliness is rising, particularly for older people living alone.
“I came off the call and felt as bright as a button.”
Overall, the older people surveyed said they truly value the companionship the calls bring. Many also said that being matched with a call companion they have something in common with was very important to them.
Sadly, even as the lockdown eases, loneliness and social isolation will continue to be a tough reality for many older people. The ongoing support of volunteers remains as crucial as ever.
*(ONS Coronavirus and loneliness, Great Britain: 3 April to 3 May 2020)
A shared love of music
Call companions Joan and Zoe share a love of music. Joan has sung as a tenor for The Big Sing Choir since 2014 and Zoe is a gifted young soprano whose reputation has been celebrated worldwide.
Meet our award-winning volunteer
Last year Re-engage volunteer, Bev Owen, was awarded the Marsh Award for Volunteering in Support of Older People.