My name is Sabrina and I volunteer as a telephone befriender with Hestia. I saw the role advertised and I thought it would be a good way of giving something new a go – I’ve now been a telephone befriender for just over a year! Every week I speak to two people who use Hestia’s services, it’s always been the same two people from the beginning. Initially, it was a little bit difficult to get them to open up and for conversation to flow but I started by introducing myself and allowing space for us to get to know each other. I wanted to create a comfortable environment so I would talk to them about hobbies, current affairs and their interests and eventually it became more in-depth conversations whilst still keeping it general and light.

"At the end of the day I’m someone to talk to and more importantly, someone to listen."

As a telephone befriender I won’t know specificities about the person I’m speaking to, I won’t know why they use Hestia or for what purpose. At the end of the day I’m someone to talk to and more importantly, someone to listen. Active listening is really important, and I try to remember any upcoming events or something they’re looking forward to so we can speak about it when the time comes around. I’ll also try not to restrict the conversation in terms of time, sometimes it could be 10 minutes and once I think we were on the phone for over an hour! I want them to feel as though there’s no rush, I think that helps to create an open and comfortable atmosphere.

"It's important to be consistent and build up that feeling of trust."

The fact that people can access befriending services via telephone means that it’s more accessible and convenient. If someone is isolated or finds it difficult to get out, the fact that they can still talk to someone and get that support is great. It also means that we can plan the sessions around their life and commitments, if I call and it goes to voicemail, I’ll always leave a message letting them know that I tried to call and that I’m here when they’re ready - it’s important to be consistent and build up that feeling of trust.

I volunteered to dedicate some of my time to help others who may feel slightly isolated or as though they needed a friendly voice at the end of the phone, but I also feel as though I have benefitted from the experience too. I’m happy to call them and catch up every week – I hope they feel the same. There’s been multiple times where they’ve taught me something and made me laugh and we’ve gotten to a stage where it’s not just me talking, I think that’s the true meaning behind befriending.