Foothold’s Friendship Team was established when much of the world went into lockdown at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a way for our community to connect with one another and share their experiences during an unprecedented time in their lives.
Friendship team – making connections
Friendship is a simple concept but many of us don’t fully the positive effect it has on our wellbeing. Good social connections improve mental health, reduce stress and increase confidence. But there are some lesser-known benefits too, like improved immune system, increased pain threshold and lower blood pressure.
So, when the introduction of lockdown took away the opportunity to socialise, we responded by creating a Friendship Team at Foothold. At first, the team sent handwritten letters to members of the Foothold community. The aim was to reach out to people and check how they were coping with life in lockdown. The letters also contained a phone number to call for a chat with a team member.
A match for everyone
Soon, phone conversations became the focus for the team. Engineers contacted us to talk about their time in lockdown, their hopes of seeing their families soon, as well as with offers to help. They wanted to be there for other community members having regular phone chats with them.
This enthusiastic response meant that we could match volunteers with those who said they would welcome regular contact from like-minded people. The support from IET Local Networks propelled this initiative further. Many of the representatives were looking to support their local communities and saw an opportunity to do exactly that.
Surpassing the original intention of the initiative, the Friendship Team volunteers have done more than just provide conversation. They’ve been proactive in finding practical support for the people they’re paired with. Foothold’s Volunteer Team Manager Beverley Archer agrees. “It’s amazing how proactive people have been. Some volunteers have been researching local facilities and other avenues to better support the people they talk to on the phone.”
Future of friendship at Foothold
The Friendship Team’s first few months have been encouraging. The next step will be to grow the initiative and connect more of the community with each other. A key part of this will be executing the newly developed Foothold Volunteer strategy.
One major change will be shaping the volunteer team to be representative of the entire Foothold community. This means that alongside engineers, we will aim to welcome volunteers from non-engineering backgrounds, family members and students.
Another aim will be to invite volunteers with specific skills to give their time to the community. This means we will be able to give community members more specific, well aimed support that will make a real difference to their lives.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Friendship Team and volunteering opportunities at Foothold, please e-mail Volunteer Team manager Beverley Archer on [email protected]