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2021 has started with an undeniable feeling of Déjà vu. We were all eager to see the back of what was a bizarre and challenging year, but apparently that was too much to expect. Come the 23rd of next month, we would have spent an entire year going in and out of various lockdowns and tier systems and everything else that can be associate with the start of this decade and it got us to thinking – what can we do, as a company, to make the most of it? What can we do to help and to give a little something back at such a difficult time? 
When we realised, it seemed obvious – we have a team of people who are great communicators and office facilities that have been going to waste with many of our staff waiting until lockdown is over to come back in to work, so why not use our staff and resources to do what they do best...talk to people? 

GMB and 1 million minutes 

At the end of last year, Good Morning Britain campaigned accross the nation to help end loneliness. They asked the Great British public to pledge a total of 1,000,000 minutes to talk to those who are socially isolated and feeling alone. A number of fantastic charities got involved and not only helped GMB meet their million-minute target, but absolutely smash it by getting them to 85 million minutes of talk time! 
We knew that we could provide some invaluable assistance to one of these charities, with our access to staff and our office facilities, so we reached out and got in touch with a fantastic charity - Reengage. 
As they explain on their website Reengage exists “to provide social connections for older people at a time in their lives when their social circles are diminishing.” Before the pandemic, Reengage were organising social gatherings up and down the country, making an immeasurable difference in the lives of older people who were suffering from loneliness. Due to this pandemic, this had to be put on hold, so instead they are now offering a Call Companion service, which provides older people with somebody who gives them a weekly phone call and a good conversation. Just like the meet-ups that they organised before the pandemic, this makes all of the difference to the lives of the people who need it. 

Where PWP come in 

Work like this is so very important, and this goes double in the current situation. With more and more people isolated during the pandemic, with limited to no contact with other people, and an increase in applications from prospective volunteers for services such as Reengage’s Call Companion programme, it was clear to us that this was the best thing for us to get involved in if we wanted to really help make a difference. 
We got in touch and Reengage were really happy for us to get involved and have been extremely accommodating – they really have been a pleasure to work with. We have been helping them in the process of matching older people to their call companions and this has been a great pleasure for our staff. 
We feel strongly about this issue – we all know people who have struggled, especially due to Covid. So many of us are lucky, in that we have people we either live with or talk to regularly and we couldn’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to experience loneliness and social isolation; but for anyone who is, help is out there. 
If you, or anyone you know, is lonely, get in touch with Reengage - they can help! 

Loneliness - a growing problem 

Even before this pandemic hit, loneliness and social isolation were real problems for a lot of people. But now, with the imposed social isolation that comes with lockdown, it’s even harder. 
There are various health risks associated with loneliness with some studies showing links between loneliness and high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and depression, just to name a few. This is alarming, especially when you consider the fact that over 2.2 million people aged over 75 live alone. 
The good news is, that there are some great charities out there who work to combat loneliness and provide charitable services (such as meet ups and call companion services) to provide people who are experiencing loneliness and social isolation with somebody to talk to.  
If you, or anyone that you know, is feeling lonely or is socially isolated and could use somebody to talk to, don't hesitate to reach out and ask for help. 
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