“Calls were a huge gift!”


As part of Loneliness Awareness Week, we have spoken to some coordinators for Linking Lives projects across the UK to pick their brains on what loneliness means to them and how they are helping to tackle it.

Here Helen Percy, the Coordinator for Nottingham Linking Lives, shares her story …

“My journey with Linking Lives might not be very common. Last May my fixed term employment finished. During Covid and lockdown the options for finding other employment were somewhat limited. I was filling in a form and realised I had a gap in my CV, something which can be a red flag from a safeguarding perspective and I’ve been told to avoid. I was really upset. I was living alone, and really struggling with isolation myself anyway, and I contacted Hope Nottingham (which works with the community in a variety of ways, including running a friendship club, food bank, job club and a café, alongside the befriending service) to see if they had anything going at all. I explained that my skill set included admin work.

In addition to being included on the rota for packing food parcels, I was asked if I’d like to join the Linking Lives scheme as a Link friend. I welcomed the opportunity; someone to ring me regularly for a chat sounded like a real luxury and gift.

Helen Percy

I used to get my calls at 9am each time, which meant I had a reason to get out of bed that day. I got on really well with my befriender and her calls meant the world to me. I may not be that old but I live alone and have never married or had children, and it was lovely to have someone to talk to.

After a number of months, when restrictions were less extreme, I was asked if I’d like to help with the administration of the Linking Lives scheme, as a volunteer. Several months further down the line and I’m now employed as the coordinator.

I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the befrienders and support them. I’ve also had plenty of opportunities to use my admin skills to improve record keeping and monitor the fantastic work the befrienders are doing. I love knowing that the files are in order and anyone could easily pick things up and know who is active as a link friend or befriender. When I’m only part time I think it’s important to make sure other people can step in if there’s a problem on a day you’re not in.

I’ve also spoken to so many interesting people through this role. Befrienders, link friends and referrers all have interesting stories to share. My life is enriched by my contact with them.
It’s not always easy, and some people have very challenging aspects to their story, but sometimes it’s those contacts that can bring most satisfaction as you can really feel like you’ve made a difference.”

For more information on Nottingham Linking Lives, visit www.linkinglives.uk/nottingham

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