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‘Biscuit and a Blether’ phone service launched to help vulnerable Scots cope with loneliness

The service is designed to support vulnerable older people through self-isolation
The service is designed to support vulnerable older people through self-isolation

An Edinburgh-based charity project is launching a ‘Biscuit and a Blether’ phone service to help older people through self-isolation.

Scotland’s lockdown, instated to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus, means vulnerable people are more susceptible to feelings of loneliness as their families continue to practise social distancing.

To combat this, volunteers at charitable partnership Vintage Vibes will have a wee chat with the charity’s over-60s (called ‘VIPs’) over the phone, since their usual face-to-face meetings are unable to go ahead.

Vintage Vibes is also extending the service to vulnerable people who have not yet been matched with their own volunteer, providing both parties with packets of biscuits donated by The Shortbread House of Edinburgh.

Almost 300 packs of biscuits will be sent to seniors and volunteers over the coming week

The project’s goal is to create lasting friendships between vulnerable person and volunteer.

Georgia Artus, Vintage Vibes Marketing and Development Manager, says: “Our long term aim is to create lasting face to face friendships between vulnerable over-60s and a dedicated volunteer. We have a very successful track record creating meaningful matches based on shared interests, from cooking to canoeing, with some friendships lasting over 4 years so far.

“However, due to the coronavirus and self-isolation guidance, we’ve had to innovate and adapt quickly to ensure the wellbeing of local over 60s, and ‘Biscuit and a Blether’ is the result of that.

“It’s a temporary service for the moment, and we’re planning on running it for at least two months. We wanted to bring some positivity and joy to a challenging time – and what’s more joyful than enjoying a good biscuit and a blether?

“What’s great is that due to the passion of our trained volunteers, we’re able to extend our service to include more over 60s than just those we have already matched, and so folks on our waiting list are getting much needed companionship too.”

As well as creating a sense of community, the ‘Blethers’ are also intended to be an early warning system to flag people who may need additional support.

Heather Allan, Service Co-ordinator, explains: “We will be checking in with our volunteers to get an update on the health and wellbeing of our VIPs and all the over-60s who are part of this initiative.

“If there are ‘red flags’ and people need additional support such as a broken appliance or difficulty accessing shopping, our team will aim to signpost to those that can help.

“Essentially, we are hoping to provide a connection that will help vulnerable people living alone through a time where they may feel even more isolated.”