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Carer Support Wiltshire are looking to expand their team of Here to Talk volunteers following a surge in demand from unpaid carers who are experiencing feelings of isolation and need someone to talk to.

Here to Talk volunteers provide regular phone conversations to unpaid carers who feel they would benefit from having someone to chat with.

Anyone who is interested in this flexible volunteering role, who meets the person criteria and can commit to the minimum of half an hour every two weeks is encouraged to get in touch, says Volunteer Recruitment Manager Amanda Rothwell.

“Our telephone befriending service has helped to ease feelings of isolation for hundreds of unpaid carers. It’s been more in demand since the pandemic began, but unpaid carers are often isolated even when there aren’t any restrictions. When you are caring for someone who is ill, or has a condition or disability, it can be difficult to leave the house. If you’re the only person in your friendship group who is a carer, it can feel isolating.”

Kate, who is retired, is a Here to Talk volunteer and currently supporting several people. She said:

“I chose to volunteer because I had time on my hands and wanted to feel useful and make a difference. I felt that my life experience as a busy mum, grandmother and carer to my father-in-law would help me to understand the pressures and challenges carers face.

“I think you need patience and good listening skills, and a sense of humour helps. I’ve found the role has helped me connect with others and to feel less isolated myself. Because it’s flexible I can fit it around my daily life.”

Here to Talk volunteer Hepsi

When Hepsi began volunteering with Carer Support Wiltshire in November 2020, she says she did so to help improve her own confidence and communication skills after leaving university.

“Here to Talk has been great practice for me. It got me back into the swing of things and I gained a range of experiences. When I first started it was so daunting to get it right, but even after the first call I felt relaxed and had a rapport with the carer, which surprised me. I would often struggle talking to people I knew, let alone strangers.”

Hepsi is now in full time employment, but she continues to support one carer. “She likes to hear about my life and I like to support her and hear about hers,” Hepsi says.

Those who would like to volunteer and who meet the criteria will be provided by Carer Support Wiltshire with full training on subjects such as listening skills, confidentiality, safeguarding, mental health awareness and communication.

Successful applicants will have a friendly approach with good listening skills, be non-judgemental with respect for different lifestyles and empathetic to the needs and concerns of unpaid carers. View the full role description here.

If you are interested in becoming a Here to Talk volunteer and being a friend to a carer who is experiencing feelings of loneliness, you can contact us at volunteer@carersupportwiltshire.co.uk or by calling 01380 908158.