STAFF working for the National Grid in Solihull made more than 2,000 phone calls to elderly residents through pandemic as part of its partnership with Age UK Solihull.
Since the first lockdown in March 2020, members of the business’s employee-led community focus group have made 2,700 welfare calls on behalf of the charity.
Chantelle Bogira from the Homer Road-based team said: “It’s horribly lonely being separated from your friends and family with no contact with the outside world.
“Soon we saw real trust developing, rich conversations and friendship, just by giving our time. As they say, kindness costs nothing. In fact, two colleagues have found it so rewarding they’ve volunteered to do more telephone befriending through the charity.”
The business’s relationship with Age UK Solihull began in Christmas 2019 when staff hosted a Christmas lunch outing and carol singing for local elderly residents.
When lockdown began, employees were asked to help with welfare calls to support clients who were feeling isolated, vulnerable and anxious.
These conversations quickly became the highpoint of the day – not just for those receiving the calls but for the callers too. They also provided an opportunity to check on residents’ wellbeing and ensure their needs for food and prescriptions were being met.
As well as the calls, the Community Focus Group also supplied weekly food shopping from Waitrose Solihull who offered the volunteers critical worker shopping hours.
More than 500 people received food parcels which included drawings done by some of the staff’s children.
The company also supplied 940 masks and six litres of hand sanitiser to the charity’s frontline workers struggling to access PPE.
Lockdown may soon be coming to an end but the company’s support remains strong. National Grid Metering is now sponsoring the distribution of digital tablets to elderly residents who will be taught how to do their online food shopping, banking and make video calls to loved ones.
Director of services Age UK Solihull Lucy Garratt said: “We could not have met or continue to meet the needs of older people without the support of our local communities and local businesses including the fantastic support we have received from National Grid.”