Telefriending Our Telefriending programme is designed to help alleviate the stress that comes with loneliness and isolation, to help maintain members’ independence and to help bolster people’s confidence too. It’s also a great opportunity for members to talk regularly with other people who identify as LGBTQ+ too. Life can be lonely sometimes – everybody has experienced feeling alone at some point in their lives. But feelings of isolation can be particularly challenging for older people, especially those who are unable to get out and about like they used to. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic means more and more people are experiencing increased loneliness and are living increasingly isolated lives. While government guidelines mean that ODL are unable to offer our usual face-to-face befriending services at the moment, our Telefriending service remains a really vital link for our members to feel connected to a wider community. Last year, in the wake of Covid-19, Opening Doors London collaborated with Karmarama, a creative agency, in the making of a documentary that explored the many facets of community life in the UK. Watch the documentary below to find out more about the issues facing LGBTQ+ people in older life and the work we do to make a positive difference within the community. What is Telefriending? Telefriending is a completely free service for anyone in the UK who would like regular and reliable telephone contact. We pair members with a specific volunteer, and that volunteer will call you each week around the same time and day for a chat.Some members prefer a quick 5 min catch up, other members like to spend a little more time chatting – we’ll always listen to what it is you would like to get out of telefriending and then find a suitable volunteer to pair you with. Generally, the calls last anywhere between a couple of minutes for a quick check in or up to around 30 mins for longer chats.We always try and match like-minded members and volunteers. It’s really important to us that you both have things in common with each other. We understand people come from a wide range of backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences, or from underrepresented groups, and we always strive to match you a volunteer with whom you’ll feel most comfortable. What do our telefrienders say? We could list the many benefits that arise from our telefriending service – increased confidence, connection to a wider community, the reassurance of regular human contact, the satisfaction of giving back to the community, the opportunity to learn from an older generation – but our members and volunteers can tell you best what they get out of the programme in their own words: "I feel very supported and appreciated - it is one of the most rewarding volunteering roles I have ever had, and the support and communication from ODL is a key part of this." "I feel privileged to be involved in such a worthwhile, professional organisation, thank you." "I absolutely love volunteering for ODL. It’s a charity I feel hugely passionate about and I’m very glad to play a small part in the service it provides to the older lgbt community" Who is Telefriending for? Telefriending is suitable for people who are: Over 50 and identify as LGBTQ+ feel lonely and isolated have their own landline or mobile phone able to hear and be understood over the phone able to commit to a regular weekly call at the same time. You do not need to live in London Sometimes people have support needs that are not suitable for this scheme, perhaps because they are too complex, or the needs are not linked to being lonely and isolated. If you’re unsure whether telefriending is right for you, just give us a ring – the Befriending Coordinator is happy to talk things through with you. How do I become a telefriender? If you want to have a telephone befriender please call (020 7239 0400 - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected] and we will arrange a phone call with you. If you want to refer someone you think could benefit, please fill in our external referral form and send to [email protected]. We'll then arrange a call to confirm that you (or the person being referred) is suitable for the service. This service will prioritise those who are isolated due to frailty or physical impairments and have no regular meaningful social connections. We are particularly interested in supporting those who are from underrepresented groups.