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Blog: Friendship Line - "It's probably as beneficial for me as it is for the clients"

Published on 12 May 2022 09:40 AM

Volunteers play a huge role in tackling loneliness and boosting mental health among older people who rely on Age Scotland services. Recently, we've been delighted to welcome new volunteers to the friendship line through our partnership with Scottish Water.

Training Adviser Rhona Kelly is part of the first group of Scottish Water Friendship callers. Below she shares her experience of training, induction and first calls.

“I'm just a couple of weeks into my volunteering but already I'm absolutely loving it!

“The whole process started with a 1 hour 15 minute Zoom Training session which was run by Ashley and Sheona, the two supervisors from Age Scotland. There was about six of us on the session and Ashley and Sheona put us at ease straight away. During the session we were shown videos about Age Scotland and what they do, there was information on the Volunteer Code of Conduct and Data Protection, and we also listened to some calls to give us an idea of the types of conversations we might have. They also went over the two systems we would need to use - 8x8 for actually making the calls, and Charitylog for recording the details of how the chat goes and a brief description of what was talked about.

“After that a One-to-One induction was arranged. This was a 45-minute session with Ashley during which I was given passwords for 8x8 and Charitylog, and we did a practice write up on the training system. It was a perfect opportunity to ask questions and confirm anything I wasn't sure about, and Ashley was so friendly and reassuring! After the Induction I was sent an email with links and instructions on downloading the two systems, and also a Friendship Caller Guide which is absolutely full of useful information, hints and tips.

“A week later it was time for my first call - I was nervous but also excited! My background is in the Contact Centre here in Scottish Water where I worked for 16 years before becoming a Trainer in the Customer Experience Academy. I love my current role, but I really miss speaking to our customers which is partly why I felt this opportunity was perfect for me. So, I almost felt like I was right back at the beginning taking my first call in the Contact Centre!

“We are normally given two calls to make during our allocated hour, however the first week I was only given one. This is so that you get a chance to get a feel for what it's like making the call without the pressure of having to make a second one. My first call only lasted a few minutes as the gentleman was just heading out to get his Covid booster.

“Week two went much better though, and I spoke to two lovely people. You can end up chatting about literally anything - my first call we talked about choosing new furniture, and the second what type of stock cubes are best to use when making soup!

“I would say, if you are considering this type of volunteering, just go for it. Remember, it's not like 'cold calling' or anything - all the people you will be calling have asked for a phone call and will be looking forward to hearing from you. I do my calls on a Monday morning, which can be a quiet day for me, so it's probably as beneficial for me as it is for the clients!"

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