Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Oxford Together is Oxford Hub’s volunteer programme to help those at high-risk or self-isolating during Covid-19. Their Phone Link programme aims to link up isolated people and those unable to leave their homes with volunteers for social support and friendship during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Remarkably, Oxford Together volunteers have made a total of 1000 phone calls to isolated people in Oxfordshire since the launch of their Phone Link programme on the 30th March.

Oxford Hub are considering extending the Phone Link programme post-lockdown. Emma Anderson, Oxford Hub Chief Operating Officer, stated that “The demand for this kind of support has been highlighted by the Covid-19 situation, but the need for remote social support was always there and will continue to be there even after most people’s lives go back to normal.”

Oxford Hub acts as the co-ordinator for the community-led response, working in collaboration with other local groups such as the Oxford City Council, Oxford Mutual Aid and the Oxford Code Lab. Alongside making calls to isolated people in Oxfordshire, volunteers also form part of the Street Champion initiative and provide practical support with shopping and other task.

The Street Champion initiative led to calls being issued across Oxford, providing individuals with a co-ordinated way to support people in their neighbourhoods. The city was split into sections and each neighbourhood designated an email address, which anyone can contact for support. There are currently around 450 Street Champions.

Meanwhile, the Phone Link programme has connected over 150 volunteer pairs to chat to one another a few times each week. More than 50 calls are now being made daily by volunteers.

One of the volunteers, Sarah, said “I have really been enjoying my daily chats with Eva and specially hearing about the antics of her cat who is definitely the boss in her house.  We both miss being able to wander round Marks and Spencer and plan to meet there for a cup of tea once life goes back to normal! I feel I have made a new friend, and it is nice to hear that my calls brighten up someone’s day.”

You can find out more about the Oxford Together programme here.