FRIENDSHIP ONLY A PHONE CALL AWAY FOR SOCIALLY ISOLATED INDIAN PEOPLE

BEVERLEY TSE |

From today, Hindi speakers in Auckland with limited or no English, will have access to a friendship-based telephone service in their own language.

Following the 2018 launch of the St John Caring Caller service in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), St John is extending its delivery to reach more isolated individuals from minority communities, with the launch of the service in Hindi. A team of volunteers in Auckland are ready and excited to be offering their support to their fellow community members but more volunteers are needed.

St John Caring Caller volunteer, Jaya Sharda, says it’s a great way of removing the language barrier for Hindi speakers and creating the chance to share common interests with like-minded people.  

“Being a proficient communicator in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and a few other regional Indian languages, this is the perfect opportunity for me to serve others and give back to the community.”

The St John Caring Caller service is a free, confidential telephone service which connects people who need a friend with people who have time to listen and chat. The service already has more than 800 volunteers around New Zealand, regularly connecting with over 1,250 clients, who range in age and ethnicity.  

The Hindi service has been made possible with generous funding from Commonwealth Vault, which has committed to giving $15,000 across three years, to support this initiative.  

St John Director of Community Health Services, Sarah Manley says the service is part of the organisation’s commitment to building community resilience by contributing towards the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“There’s been a lot of research into the detrimental impacts of chronic loneliness, irrespective of a person’s age or circumstances. We know that New Zealand’s ageing population is growing rapidly, with many people living alone and without friends and family close by. There are also individuals in minority communities who lack English. Through our programmes like Caring Caller, we are addressing social isolation by reaching out to provide better care for those who are vulnerable and lonely.”

Anyone living alone or housebound due to illness or disability, can contact St John about getting a Caring Caller. Each client is paired up with a volunteer whose personality and interests are compatible. While it’s not a helpline in any way, a Caring Caller can also notify the right people, such as St John, if their chat friend isn’t well or doesn’t answer.

“People who are lonely don’t always recognise that they need a friend, so it’s up to others to get the ball rolling. We welcome referrals from community-minded people who know of someone who could use a friend,” says Ms Manley.

Anyone who thinks they, or a friend or relative, could benefit from the free Hindi Caring Caller service should call 0800 ST JOHN (0800 785 646) or email communityprogrammes@stjohn.org.nz. Prospective clients will be directed on how to apply and once the process gets underway, callers and clients are matched and a schedule set up.

Anyone who enjoys talking and would be interested in becoming a Caring Caller can sign up at join.stjohn.org.nz.

For further information about Caring Caller and other St John community services, visit stjohn.org.nz/What-we-do/Community-programmes/Caring-Caller

-ENDS-

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND PHOTOS, CONTACT:

Beverley Tse

St John Communications Advisor

M 0273181553

E beverley.tse@stjohn.org.nz

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