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LGBTQ+ over 50s charity needs help to reduce isolation during coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 15:42 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:42 24 March 2020

John and Anthony. Picture: Christa Holka

John and Anthony. Picture: Christa Holka

©Christa Holka, 2019

A charity that supports over 50s from LGBTQ+ communities has launched an emergency crowdfunder so it can train volunteers to use its telefriending service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael and Shannon. Picture: Christa HolkaMichael and Shannon. Picture: Christa Holka

North London’s Opening Doors provides a lifeline to those who feel vulnerable by helping to reduce isolation and offering crucial advice and referrals.

It has had to cancel hundreds of face-to-face services, including its befriending programme, and now needs to train its volunteers in using the telefriending service offering weekly phone calls to service users, especially those who cannot access online services.

A £15,000 fundraiser has now been launched to pay for the training as well as more staff members during what is expected to be a very busy period.

One person who will benefit is Mike, a retired doctor. He said: “I don’t have anyone else to talk to. I am self-isolating and so I won’t even get to talk to the shopkeeper. It is a great relief to know that I will actually have someone to speak to.”

Helena. Picture: Christa HolkaHelena. Picture: Christa Holka

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Befriending coordinator Meghan Herring said: “As the Covid-19 outbreak affects all members of society we are working hard to protect those most a risk of being overlooked – the elderly, lonely and most isolated groups.

“We urgently need support crowdfunding so we can help train our volunteers in telefriending so they can continue to provide those small services, which make a big difference.

“Telefriending is a lifeline. Our volunteers check in with clients at least once a week, identifying if they have enough food, determine any possible concerns that need to be escalated but most importantly talk to them about how they are feeling.

“It is an essential service to help address truly urgent needs during this crisis. Therefore, any donations will be appreciated and will make a huge impact as Opening Doors work to support those who are most isolated.”

Donations can be made at openingdoorslondon.org.uk.

Anyone interested in volunteering can click here for more information.

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