With so many free services on offer during the pandemic, it’s easy to miss out on the one you might find most useful. So here’s one you may have missed: Connect In is a simple way for any adult in the Hastings area to feel that they are still part of their community while locked away in their homes.

The free service is run through Hastings Voluntary Action by a team of friendly volunteers; and to make conversations easier, their interests are matched with those who sign up. Anyone registering for calls can have as little as a quick daily ring to make sure they’re OK, or can opt for regular, longer chats. Callers can also request additional practical support such as shopping, medication collection or dog walking – which volunteers can help them find through other community initiatives.

Since the service launched Connect In has matched more than 40 different people together and, according to Debby Anderson, one of the organisers, some lovely friendships are already being formed: “We’ve had feedback from people saying that receiving calls is brightening their day and one or two little treats have also been received through the post so it really is all about going that extra mile, from a distance, to keep our community spirits up!”

Feedback confirms that taking trouble to match interests is paying off with comments like: “Today’s first call went really well. We’ve arranged to speak a few times a week and I’m already looking forward to the next time.”

The practical side of the service is highlighted by thanks from one delighted customer who commented the same day as joining: “Someone has already ‘phoned me and arranged to collect my medication tomorrow!”

And the importance of just being able to talk is highlighted in this feedback about one of the volunteers: “She certainly cheers me up. We have a laugh and a cry when things get a bit overwhelming, but we’re a good match with lots in common.”

To register for Connect In people can call 444010 or simply follow this link www.hastingsvoluntaryaction.org.uk/news/connect-telephone-befriending-scheme

As an extra incentive to join, anyone who signs up will be kept
in touch with community activities starting to take place once the lockdown eases and will also have the opportunity to meet their new friends in person at a series of ‘Re-Connecting’ community lunches and meet-ups currently being planned.

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