As the Coronavirus crisis continues, Waterloo-based charity Oasis is launching a 'friendship phone line' for the lonely and anxious along with a 'Guidance for finding calm' tips sheet for use when people are finding it hard to stay calm.
"For those most at risk from the virus, staying at home may be a desperately lonely experience," says Revd Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis.
"That's why we're launching a national phone service today – offering a listening ear and giving people a chance to chat. The number is 020 7921 4272, and is open between 11am and 3pm, Monday to Friday.
"This is not an advice line," says Chalke, "it's an offer of company and kindness on the other end of the phone, at a time when many of us will feel more anxious or alone. People need community.
"We know from our work in 40 local communities across the UK that kindness and listening services are just as vital as health advice or food supplies. Community life can't stop – we have to find ways to stay connected even though we have been isolated."
Oasis has also launched an appeal for funds to support its food projects running in local community hubs. "We are gearing up for a surge in demand for services such as Foodbanks and Community Fridges," says Oasis chief executive Dave Parr.
"While so many are stocking up on supplies, those many thousands of people accessing our food poverty projects across the country don't have this luxury. Foodbanks are already struggling to keep up with demand and receiving fewer donations, while essential food items such as pasta, toilet roll, and UHT milk are flying off our supermarket shelves.
"We are prioritising food projects, knowing that those already struggling to make ends meet, and those who can't afford to miss work will be the hardest hit. If schools are closed at some point in the next weeks and months, we know families who rely on free school meals will also need extra help."
Steve Chalke is appealing for others to join in with Oasis' efforts: "We're asking for donations to provide food supplies, and to keep our community services running. We're also calling on faith and community groups to join us in providing phone support – we can all do something to help.
"We have also published some 'Guidance for finding calm' for local groups to use. You can find that free resource, and give financial support, at www.oasisuk.org/coronavirus. Please join us."
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