Joan: “The befriending calls I’ve had from you are wonderful, I couldn’t do without them”

This summer we are launching Fire Friends, a telephone befriending provision, offering social support and connection to our retired beneficiaries - and one of the first to try it is Joan O'Connor.

The pandemic brought with it huge challenges for everyone, and for older members of our community, it often meant months stuck indoors, away from social groups and family.

This, in turn, led to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which may have continued even now – as restrictions have eased.

In response to this, and thanks to your ongoing and generous donations, we will be introducing regular phone calls to engage with our valued older community. These calls aren’t to offer advice, they’re simply providing the opportunity to make a connection – all while having a chat about all sorts of things.

One of the first people to experience them so far, ahead of the official launch of the befriending provision later this summer, is Joan O’Connor, 91, who lives on her own in Yorkshire. She has been receiving our befriending calls throughout the last few months and says they’ve been a huge support to her.

Help us help more people like Joan by donating now.

Having been part of the fire services community for years, through her late husband Bernard who was a firefighter, Joan always knew about the support we offer beneficiaries – but never considered how we may be able to help her.

She says: “I’ve only been out the house around four times in two years, due to Covid and the fact I have painful osteoarthritis in my knee.

“My father-in-law was a CFO in the fire service and then my husband Bernard of course. My son was also in it. The fire service really is in our blood.

“These calls are wonderful, I couldn’t do without them. Clare rings me every week and it’s just a casual chat – we talk about all sorts, I ask her where she’s been, what she’s done, what she’s having for her tea! It’s those chats you miss. It’s so nice.”

If you would benefit from a chat or would appreciate a call, please get in touch. You can message Clare Hannaford directly on MyFFC (@ClareHannaford) or you can email or telephone 07970 107933.

Alternatively, if you’d like to volunteer to be a befriender, you can find out more here:

Fire Friends