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Tuesday, 29 September 2020

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Phone a friend: Let’s Feed Brum calls on volunteers to deliver chat line support

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WITH the COVID-19 lockdown putting a stop to Let’s Feed Brum’s outdoor soup kitchen operations overnight, the charity has mobilised to roll-out a free ‘Friendship Chatline’ for people who use its service, in aims of combatting loneliness.

Calling on its volunteers to operate the phone-line each evening, Let’s Feed Brum hopes that it can help continue supporting those who turn to the charity for a friendly face.

While many users of Let’s Feed Brum have been placed into temporary – and in many cases permanent – accommodation due to the government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative, the closure of the soup kitchen has meant that many miss out on weekly interactions with friends and volunteers. Determined to continue offering a safe space to those experiencing homelessness, the charity launched the chat-line for those who feel like they need to talk to a familiar voice during these challenging times.

Running every evening between 6.30pm – 7.30pm, the Friendship Chatline offers an opportunity for people 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 the charity’s friendly volunteers across one of the four phone lines. Outside of the designated hour, callers can leave a message or request a callback, which is then personally followed-up by the team, who can then connect them to any additional help.

Alan Strang, one of the trustees of Let’s Feed Brum, commented:

“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 Let’s Feed Brum to help its service users 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.”

As a charity that has offered support and guidance to the city’s homeless community, Let’s Feed Brum is determined to continue its work throughout the pandemic, and the launch of the Friendship Chatline will enable volunteers to point users to resources and further assistance, should they need it. 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.

To find out more about how you can contribute to Let’s Feed Brum, visit: www.letsfeedbrum.com.

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