Started in the early stages of the pandemic, a buddy system was set up to support vulnerable Royal Free patients at home, most of whom who have underlining medical conditions and are experiencing varying degrees of loneliness and isolation, writes Sophrenia Anyanwu, support hub administrator.

Each volunteer is provided with a guidance document, outlining the necessary boundaries, and providing quick telephone and website references.

We currently have a pool of 45 volunteers, 25 of whom speak to their buddy each week. Many of these have been talking with their buddy since March and have been a real comfort to people who have been more isolated through this time.

The service has connected patients without access to food to the services who can provide them with this and those with worries about their condition with their medical teams to get the answers they need.

Check In and Chat is rewarding for both the client and the volunteer and we have received some amazing feedback so far from both volunteers and patients.

In a recent feedback survey, 70% (7/10) of volunteers agreed or strongly agreed that they “felt like they have made a difference to someone” through the pandemic.

Angelina, who has used our service, said of her volunteer caller:

“She has been absolutely brilliant.  She always lets me know she’s here, she checks in on me. What a lovely lady. It’s been so good to have somebody. An adult to talk to.  Initially I didn’t want to. But talking to her I feel back in the world. She’s given me a turbo charge of energy.

“When she came into my life I was hiding at home, I was isolated, I wasn’t well – as soon as the doctors came in, so did she. She lifted me up. It was such a godsend. She was absolutely brilliant in her role as a helping hand. She empowered me when no one was listening and said the right thing to keep me going. “How are you feeling today?” are the key words you need to hear.

Thank God for the hub.”

For more information please contact [email protected] who has been involved in co-ordinating this programme.