In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Re-engage (formerly Contact the Elderly) have suspended their regular social gatherings and have created a new service for older people called call companions.

The guests in their existing groups are receiving calls from volunteers and they now have volunteer capacity to reach more older people and want call companions to be a permanent addition to their work.

The call companion’s idea is very simple: a volunteer call companion calls the same older person between two and four times a month at a mutually agreed time for an informal chat. Calls will last for around 30 minutes.

The call companions programme is aimed at people who are:

  • 75 or older
  • living alone or in sheltered housing with little or no contact with family or friends
  • struggle to leave their house in normal times

In addition, for call companions they ask that the older people have sufficiently good hearing to take on regular phone conversations.

At the time the older person is referred, they will ask a general question about the older person’s interests or hobbies to make sure they match them with a volunteer and to help spark conversation.

Their volunteers all receive training, which includes safeguarding, signposting to other services, and how to engage in difficult conversations.

Call companions are supported by call coordinators who monitor the success of the partnership for both the older person and volunteer.

If an older person takes part and subsequently decides it is not for them, there is an easy way for them to leave.

If you know anyone who would benefit from call companions, please refer them using the simple online form. Don’t forget to get the older person’s consent first. You can find the form on the Re-engage website: Refer an older person.

Once they receive the application, they will start the process of matching the older person with a volunteer and you will hear back from them shortly.

Call companions offers a crucial link to older people who are at risk of falling further into social isolation as a result of quarantine measures.

Re-engage look forward to receiving referrals from you.