Across the Hedgerow

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Across the Hedgerow

Across the Hedgerow service provides older individuals from the rural community with listening support and companionship via regular telephone calls. We aim to reduce isolation and improve the mental and emotional wellbeing of both the client and volunteer.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic our support line seen a marked increase in phone calls, with more and more of them from vulnerable and older members of the rural community who were isolated and afraid. To help these people navigate what is the new normal for the foreseeable future, the ‘Across the Hedgerow’ project, in collaboration with the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) was launched.

This initiative provides our most vulnerable people with extra human connection on a regular basis, via the phone, to help lift their spirits and bring some happiness. Traditionally older and vulnerable people can be in the hard-to-reach category, so this project has helped Rural Support to identify people most in need, ensuring they are getting the help they need to protect their mental health and wellbeing, as well as connecting them to the right services if they need it. It also provides a small bit of respite and comfort to their loved ones knowing that there will be someone else checking in on them and providing additional care and a listening ear.

Topics of conversation with clients include:

  • The weather
  • Farming- their current or previous enterprise(s)
  • Hobbies – things they love or used to love doing (cars, tractors, cooking, knitting, reading, music, sport)
  • The way things were in the olden days
  • The client’s family, e.g. grandchildren
  • How they are feeling?
  • The sorts of things they can do to help themselves

There is a team of Rural Support and YFCU staff and volunteers ready and willing to be matched to clients who can either self-refer to the service or be referred by third parties with the verbal permission of the client. We will co-ordinate the matching of Across the Hedgerow clients to a suitable person and they will make contact as often as the person needs to feel safer and more content.

This service will continue to run beyond the restrictions and COVID-19.

To avail of this service or to refer someone you care about please call our Support Line on 0800 138 1678.

Furthermore, if you would like to become a volunteer for this initiative, please contact info@ruralsupport.org.uk or call 028 8676 0040

“I find the calls very useful. No set pattern to calls so it brings up a lot of subjects I wouldn’t hear about otherwise. It’s great to talk to someone in your language and situation. Great job and would recommend to anybody in same boat as myself. Happy for it to continue” (Across the Hedgerow Client)

“I enjoy talking to him on a regular basis and care about him dearly. I visited him whilst on holiday in his area – he made us very welcome, and we talked outside for some time” (Across the Hedgerow Volunteer)

“As a volunteer, I have tried to create the impression of having a conversation with the client as a friend, having a cup of tea with them at the kitchen table. It took time to develop the relationship, getting to know their areas of interest. However, in the long run it has been very satisfying, especially when they clearly value the call” (Across the Hedgerow Volunteer)
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