Pictured:  Barbara meets Mel,  her Zurich volunteer phone friend. This was the first time they had met face to face.

Research has shown just how important a regular phone call, even if it's just twenty minutes once a week, is to isolated older people.  It was revealed that the service was highly valued by older people and had a measurable, positive impact on their physical and mental health, providing them with a long-term benefit. 

The research confirms:

  • Many of the older people interviewed were socially isolated because they were housebound.  Participants who completed the health diaries said feelings of isolation made them feel 'down-hearted, isolated and weepy at times' but the telephone service made a big difference bringing them into contact with other people. 
  • Frequently, their only contact with the outside world was with their befriender on the telephone. Many older people reported a reduction in loneliness while for some participants the security of knowing that someone was going to call at a specified time meant they were less fearful of living alone. 
  • Interviewees said they felt they had a reason to keep going, they had a purpose in life, and importantly, life was once again worth living. 
  • Feedback from informal discussions with our members (or 'phone friends') as well as through questionnaires, has also been extremely positive.  
  • 98% said the service is an excellent idea 
  • 100% would like to meet their volunteer

When Barbara met Mel

The value of the programme throughout the year was really brought home to us at at the Zurich Community Trust Conference in 2012 when Barbara Flynn, 83, met up with Zurich volunteer Mel Nunn from Fareham for the very first time.  Here's what Barbara said:

"The Call in Time service has helped me dramatically because I know that the call is coming.  If I'm upset I've got someone to talk to me and if I'm happy I've got someone to share that with.  You've been a blessing and an encouragement to me over many sad months.  Deep grief and loneliness are such difficult emotions to explain.  Everyone at the Call in Time team seems to understand and has given very real comfort to me. 

Thank you all so very much for all your care and concern to an 82 year old lady.  As time passes I'm feeling much better - I couldn't have coped without the support I got from Mel and the Call in Time team."