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‘Blitz spirit’ as seaside town starts coronavirus telephone befriending service

Hundreds of people in Eastbourne, East Sussex, have signed up to be friendly voices on the end of the phone.

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Volunteers in a seaside town have launched a telephone befriending service (Helen Burton/PA)

Volunteers in a seaside town have launched a telephone befriending service (Helen Burton/PA)

Volunteers in a seaside town have launched a telephone befriending service (Helen Burton/PA)

A group of volunteers in a seaside town have launched a telephone befriending service to keep their community together as increasing numbers of people self-isolate amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hundreds of people in Eastbourne, East Sussex, have signed up to be friendly voices on the end of the phone for those shut up in their homes.

Helen Burton, a local councillor, is in charge of the initiative.

She told the PA news agency: “We are just trying to provide some positivity in a time that is going to be terrible for a lot of people.

“People want to do something to help others, which is fantastic.

“At the moment, it’s absolutely crisis time and it’s just a case of getting anyone who is isolated someone on the phone.”

Potential phone friends are screened by Ms Burton and then matched up with people in the Eastbourne community, usually within the same district.

The hope is that everyone who feels isolated due to the Covid-19 crisis can hear from the Eastbourne Volunteers telephone befriending service at least once a week.

Ms Burton, 48, said she hopes something good can come out of the coronavirus outbreak when the country recovers.

It's the Blitz spirit that people have been talking about. I think we are good in a crisisHelen Burton, councillor

She said: “It’s so heartwarming the amount of people who have been in contact with us saying ‘I want to help’.

“It’s the Blitz spirit that people have been talking about. I think we are good in a crisis.

“I would like to think that at the end of this, society might shift a little bit and maybe it will get back to knowing your neighbours.”

Eastbourne Volunteers are keen for more people to get involved in the telephone befriending service.

For more information, or to sign up, email: eastbournevolunteers@gmail.com.

PA