Telephone Support

Companionship Calls

Companionship Calls provide regular telephone support and encouragement to reduce loneliness and improve a person’s wellbeing from the same volunteer.  

You will call the person you are supporting up to 3 times a week over a 6-week period. You are calling to have a friendly chat to combat loneliness. You should always be guided by what is important to them, and what they would like to chat about – just having you there to listen might be what they need most. 

Volunteers will select a shift for Companionship Calls from the activities tab in the App. The shift will match you to a person for a 6-week period. This means you will need to arrange with the person you are supporting the preferred days and times to call them for the 6 weeks, up to a maximum of 3 times a week. All calls must be completed by 8pm, please don’t try/agree to ring someone after this time.  

As part of our training for this role, volunteers will be offered information about the evidence-based NHS ‘five ways to wellbeing’ which, at their own discretion, they can use to help clients feel better and explore positive changes they could make to their mental health and wellbeing. 

Getting started 

Before your first task 

  1. Before calling the person you are supporting, ensure you withhold your number. This is to protect you from unsolicited calls and to ensure safeguarding procedures are followed. You can do this by dialling 141 for Android or #31# for Apple before the person's number or go into your phone's settings. Do not click on the phone number within the task information without editing. You can read more about Data Protection and confidentiality as well as safeguarding. 
  2. It is important to uphold the confidentiality of the person at all times. You may receive/hear personal information or details through conversations. All forms of personal information must be treated with respect and be handled in a highly confidential way. 
  3. Think about how you safely store contact details, do not leave these in a place that other people can access. If you are able to lock these away in a safe place, please do so. Once the task is completed destroy this information, please ensure it is shredded in a confidential manner. 
  4. If you call and don’t get an answer, try again later that day. If you find that you are not able to make contact after 3 attempts please press the ‘PERSON DID NOT ANSWER’ button on the GoodSAM app, this will alert our Support Team to follow up. 

Full guidance for using the app can be found in Using the GoodSAM app.

Activity specific tips 

You should introduce yourself and let the person know that you are a volunteer who is supporting the Volunteer Responders programme. Please be aware that the person you are supporting may have referred themself or a healthcare professional has put in a request for support on their behalf.  

Make sure they are aware of the referral and that they are happy to continue talking, let them know you will be calling them up to 3 times per week at a time that is mutually agreeable over the next 6 weeks. All calls must be completed by 8pm, please don’t try/agree to ring someone after this time.

As a Companionship Calls Volunteer you may be asked to support the following people: 

  • Who are housebound and have little contact with others. 
  • Who are anxious about leaving the house. 
  • Who have recently been discharged from hospital. 

Initiating friendly conversations, led by them and focussing on what they wish to discuss 

  • Providing a listening ear to help reduce loneliness and isolation. 
  • At your discretion, and only where appropriate, supporting people to take positive steps to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.   
  • If you feel it is appropriate, telling them about resources and encouraging them to get in touch with local organisations and community groups for further help.

If you are unsure about how to start your Companionship Calls, we have some tips and questions here that might help. We hope that you will engage with the person by actively listening and building rapport through an enjoyable chat. 

Using open questions that start with who, what, where, when, why and how or tell me about…will help to guide your conversation naturally. 

  • How are you doing/feeling today? 
  • Tell me about yourself 
  • What did you do this morning/afternoon? 
  • What is a typical day like for you? 

Listening is just as important as asking questions. Carefully pay attention to what they tell you and respond without judgement. You can repeat back what has been said to check your understanding.   

As appropriate to their circumstances, you may choose to offer gentle suggestions to help them connect with others, become more physically active or learn a new skill.  
 
If you think it is appropriate, and if they are happy to do so, you may choose to use elements of the evidence-based NHS 5 steps to mental wellbeing, which is an approach to supporting wellbeing. The aim of this is to help them explore positive changes they could make to their lives to help them feel better. If you use this approach, you should always be sensitive to limitations that they may have, for example around their mobility, or if they might have dementia. 

If they have access to the internet you can point them to the Royal Voluntary Service Virtual Village Hall where they can access online sessions like creative arts and crafts, music and singing, cooking and baking, dance and exercise and technology skills. You may also want to look at weareundefeatable.co.uk and the NHS Better Health website also offers guidance on kickstarting your health which can be shared with them.

At the end of the call ensure you agree when your next call will take place, and this should be at a mutually convenient time.  If you experience any difficulties while you’re volunteering or face any circumstances which make you feel uncomfortable i.e. concerns or disclosures about or from the person you are supporting, we are here to support you. Please call the Support Team immediately on 0808 196 3382. All concerns will be handled sensitively, and we will work with you to ensure a safe and positive volunteering experience.   

Potential questions you may be asked 

See other Potential questions you may be asked.

Skills Bank 

We have a selection of resources in the Skills Bank that may help you with your volunteering. We have linked to the resources that we think would support you with this activity, take some time to look through them to build your confidence. 

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Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024