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Coronavirus Community Careline In Focus: Martin

5 August 2021

Jim Steele

As we celebrate #CarelineAppreciationDay ahead of Stevenage’s opening fixture of the season, we take a closer look at those who benefitted from the Careline’s service...

Martin is a 64-year-old gentleman who lives alone, has multiple long term health conditions including reduced mobility and has special needs. He was referred to the Coronavirus Community Careline Friendly Chat Service back in April 2020, by his sister Jean, who was concerned that Martin was struggling with loneliness and isolation in the lockdown.

Jean mentioned from the start that due to Martin’s special needs, he found it difficult to talk to new people and there was a chance that he might be distant on the phone. She asked us to persevere though and that she felt a regular phone call may really help Martin.

Since his referral, Martin received 62 phone calls from the Friendly Chat Service, all lasting around thirty minutes per week. An extensive variety of Martin’s favourite subjects have been discussed, including snooker, art, antiques, television and football and Martin is always eager and happy to talk each week. He has grown in confidence with the calls and there is a noticeable difference in the way Martin speaks.

Below written by Jean, sister of Martin:

The Careline has been so successful for many reasons. It has a great team of staff, carefully chosen for their character and skill in working with the vulnerable and lonely. The staff have given comfort, ongoing support, restored faith and given a sense of self-worth to so many lonely and vulnerable people throughout the pandemic.

Hannah has been supporting my brother Martin since the beginning of Coronavirus. I heard about the Careline on BBC 3 Counties Radio and wrote the number down – I’m so very pleased that I did! Martin has special needs, he was badly bullied at school and has not worked for many years, this has isolated him as he never went out or found the confidence to make friends.

The calls to Martin have taken that feeling of hopelessness away, if only for a little while but enough to carry him through to the next call. Because the calls are consistent and regular and always with Hannah this slowly helps to rebuild and restore and give 'hope' which had been lost to Martin for years, in fact since our mum died as she was Martin’s lifeline. The Careline has reminded him that he too has a place in this world, that he too belongs and that he is every bit as important as everyone one else!

The Careline staff have the skills and the understanding of the importance of all these valuable soft skills like how to create a safe space in a phone call. They truly listen. They never judge. They inspire. They show empathy when needed. They understand the importance of time and the need for consistency. They understand their caller’s 'uniqueness' and work with it. And they give that 'verbal hug.'

To enable Martin and others to 'see' that smile you give through your voices, because that's what the Careline team are doing every single time that they chat with their clients – it’s priceless!

Thank you for also giving Martin the opportunity to attend a Stevenage FC home game against Barrow on the 7th of August, along with all the other Careline service users. I never thought my brother would ever go to a football match! He always made excuses when my sister or I suggested something different for him to do but the Careline has built up his confidence, his self-esteem and faith in himself which has given him courage and the chance to try and look forward to new things.

So a huge Thank You to you Hannah and to all of the amazing and wonderful people at the Careline. I hope you always get the opportunity to carry on doing what you do best!

Show your support & appreciation for all involved in the Stevenage FC Coronavirus Community Careline this Saturday as Alex Revell’s men take on Barrow AFC in a 3pm kick-off.

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Match tickets for Saturday’s Opening Day fixture vs Barrow AFC are now available from www.borotickets.co.uk.

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