1st November, 2023

Our new Check in and Chat service

Today we launching our new ‘Check in and Chat’ service, after a successful pilot. The service, launching during National Befriending Week, offers retired railway employees a weekly chat with a volunteer to alleviate potential loneliness and aid wellbeing.

Our research with railway pensioners has highlighted that retirement can often be isolating, especially with many community and railway groups closing following the pandemic. New analysis of Office for National Statistics data shows that the number of people who are chronically lonely has risen to 3.83 million; half a million more than in the first year of the pandemic. Furthermore, Christmas is a time of year where isolation can feel particularly pertinent. Statistics from Age UK show that almost 1.7 million older people feel more lonely at Christmas than any other time of year.

During the pilot of the Check in and Chat service, 30 hours of telephone friendship calls have already been made to several retired people, who were identified as missing out on regular conversations. Bill, a retired railway worker, has been having weekly calls with a volunteer for 3 months. He said:

“I’m finding it really helpful. I sometimes go a long time without anyone to talk to and it’s very hard. I’m 94 and meeting new people is difficult, so check in and chat in my own home with a lovely lady to talk to is fantastic. I still manage to get to town to run my errands, although at my age I don’t run! But the casual conversations I have with shop keepers are nothing like the calls, which are much more personal and involved.”

We are now looking for more volunteers to get involved with this service. No experience is necessary; volunteers simply need to be current railway employees, be good listeners and enjoy a friendly conversation. Volunteers can be based anywhere in the country and the cost of the calls will be reimbursed.

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