Phone a friend: We’ve launched a Friendship Chatline

When the Covid-19 lockdown put a stop to Let’s Feed Brum’s outdoor soup kitchen, which used to take place at Old Square on Corporation Street every Monday-Saturday, we mobilised a roll-out of a new service to stay connected to the city’s homeless community.

The Let’s Feed Brum Friendship Chatline is a free service that aims to help combat loneliness; providing a way to stay connected during the pandemic, whilst also seeking advice on where to go for support.

Run by our volunteers, the Friendship Chatline initially allowed people who had been placed into accommodation – as part of the Government’s “Everyone In” policy – someone to talk to, but it continues as a service that we now offer.

Originally running every evening from 6.30pm, the chat line is now available around the clock, giving people a chance to call up and talk; be that to express any concerns or worries that they may have, or simply to just have a chat with one of our friendly volunteers across one of the four phone lines.

Alan Strang, one of our trustees who came up with the initiative, comments:

“We wanted to continue the conversation and ensure we were still on hand for a chat, so came up with the idea of the Friendship Chatline. So far, we’ve had such positive results, and we cannot thank our volunteers enough for helping to operate the lines daily. We’ve had some great feedback from our callers, and we look forward to just being on the other end of the phone for them when times are tough!”

Offering mentoring to those experiencing homelessness and signposting to relevant services has always been part and parcel of Let’s Feed Brum’s package, but with the new Friendship Chatline, this has become even more crucial. By working alongside the city’s charity networks to draw up support pathways for those reaching out, it has allowed us to help our friends on the street adopt immediate – but hopefully long-lasting – changes.

“As a charity we have always said that we are much more than a soup kitchen, and we’ve always made it our priority to be a friend to those experiencing homelessness, and someone to turn to in their time of need. Trust between our volunteers and people who use our service has cemented itself as a cornerstone of the Let’s Feed Brum mission, and we are so grateful that our chatline has served to deepen this, even in these socially distant times,” Alan continues.

As a charity that has offered support and guidance to the city’s homeless community, we are determined to continue its work throughout the pandemic. Every volunteer taking part in the chatline has participated in online training sessions, ensuring that they are able to welcome callers in the same way that they would be welcomed to the weekly outdoor soup kitchen.

The Let’s Feed Brum Friendship Chatline can be reached by calling: 0800 001 6847.

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