Skip to content

Barbara from Devon was failing to cope on her own after suffering a double tragedy. Read how Age UK’s ‘Call in Time’ telephone befriending service helped her get back on her feet:

A double tragedy

As if losing your partner wasn’t a big enough blow to have to deal with, on top of this, Barbara from Devon also had to come to terms with losing her daughter to cancer.

Barbara explains, ‘My husband passed away 4 years ago. On the same day my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, so I was immediately caring for her. That lasted 3 years, then it went to her kidneys, and she passed away in a hospice. I think the worst thing was the loneliness. I was very, very, very lonely, and very, very, very sad.

‘I couldn’t tell you how I felt. Numb. I really didn’t have any feelings. That’s what frightened me in a way. I just survived day-to-day. It’s very difficult to explain. You just don’t believe it’s happened.’

Call in Time

Thankfully the story doesn’t end there. Barbara was referred to Age UK’s 'Call in Time' telephone befriending service by social services, through which, she was partnered up with her own befriender, Mel.

Talking about why she first decided to get involved with Call in Time, Mel comments, ‘It just sounded a really worthwhile thing to do, so I thought I’d give it a try. When I first started I didn’t think it would be as interesting as it turned out to be, but I find it very interesting. You build up a rapport with that person. You really look forward to talking to them as much as they look forward to talking to you. It’s something that builds up.’

Explaining how the service works, Barbara says: ‘They called me every day initially, then once a week. I still get that weekly phone call. The support I’ve been given has been constant and extremely helpful as I’ve had no one to talk to, so I could offload. It’s something to look forward to.’

‘I love hearing Barbara’s laugh’

One of the best things Mel loves about being a befriender is hearing Barbara’s laugh: ‘It’s so great, when she picks that phone up and you hear that lilt in her voice, and she says, “Oh Mel, I’ve been wanting to tell you something!” And I think what a wonderful week this will be. Things have been going well for her.’

Barbara is also a fan of the service, commenting: ‘The Call in Time service has helped me dramatically, because I know that that call is coming. If I’m upset I’ve got someone to talk to me, and if I’m happy I’ve got someone to share that with.

‘And as time passes, I’m feeling much better, but I couldn’t have coped without the support I got from the Call in Time team.’

Know someone who could benefit?

If you think you, or someone you know, could benefit from the Call in Time service, or if you wish to know more about how the service works, please call Age UK on 0800 434 6105, email, or write (including your contact details, with no stamp needed) to:

  • Freepost RSHU-UCSC-TUEG
  • Age UK
  • A Call in Time
  • Tavis House
  • 1-6 Tavistock Square
  • WC1H 9NA

If you are referring someone other than yourself to the service, please use our referral form. Make sure you have their permission to do so, please provide us with as much relevant information as possible (i.e. main reason for referral, telephone contact details, the person's preferred times for us to get in touch with them, etc.)

If the person lives in an area covered by a pre-existing befriending service, the Call in Time team may, subject to agreement, transfer the referral.

Call in Time referral form (DOC 688 KB)

Please note: Call in Time is a corporate volunteer programme only, and we can't accept members of the public as volunteers. If you wish to volunteer as a befriender we recommend you contact your local Age UK for further information on volunteering opportunities.


'We are there for them when they have nobody else'

Jan explains why the Call in Time telephone befriending scheme is so rewarding to work on.

Watch Jan's story

no one should have no one

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081