War Widows NSW’s Friendship Line works from home

Since 2001, Australian War Widows NSW has operated a peer telephone support service known as the Friendship Line. The line is operated by 30 women of all ages who volunteer.

8 July 2020

For a long time, our volunteers have come to the main office to make telephone calls to members who’ve opted to receive regular contact. Some of these contacts are weekly but the majority of the calls are fortnightly and monthly.

The volunteers self-nominate around their many other commitments. Some travel from as far as the Central Coast or Little Bay.

The Friendship Line binds volunteers who imbibe the social and community spirit of supporting members who need a special type of contact. Volunteers and call recipients share the unique experience of being women who are the partners and widows of a veteran.

More recently COVID-19 disrupted the usual business of making calls to members from the office at Chatswood. We had to quickly adapt and change well known processes to making both birthday and wellbeing calls from home.

Our new process allows our members, aged 90 plus to still receive a birthday call while wellbeing calls are now being made fortnightly. The latter process allows a volunteer to frequently connect with a member in these challenging times, and to support them as they deal with isolation in their own home, a home with other family members or even an aged care facility.

Feedback from our volunteers has been heart-warming:

'Everyone I called seems pretty happy with the idea of fortnightly calls and just the one person calling them. Because I was phoning from home, the calls seemed to go longer and everyone seemed very comfortable.'

The new process for offsite birthday and wellbeing calls commenced around mid-March and is working very well.

Our volunteers are excited about continuing the Friendship Line from home. Some have learned new skills of scanning and emailing call sheets, or other skills like taking an image and sending it via email.

Recently, we held a Zoom audio conference where more than half of our volunteers participated. This was another introduction to new technology where our volunteers gladly rose to the challenge. We will continue to refine the process of making calls from home as this new way of working will be in place until the pandemic is less of a threat.

The Friendship Line continues to bring much joy to the many members we touch with a phone call.

We welcome new volunteers to help with calls to our members, as well as war widows who would like to receive a regular phone call, especially during this ongoing health crisis. We can be contacted on (02) 9267 6577.