"The Independent Age Helpline is a great place to work. We feel we are making a change to someone’s life even though we can’t help with detailed information – we refer people to advisers for that. If someone is isolated and rings up for our friendship services, we are there to help. I can hear if someone is a bit low when they come on the line and, in the course of a wee chat, a friendly voice can pick them up a bit. I can sense the difference we can make. Sometimes we give people a real lift.
Call centres have a bad press so we try not to feel like a call centre. Older people detest the system when you hear a robot’s voice saying ‘press one for this,’ ‘press two for that’. Sometimes when people call they say, ‘You’re human!’ They are so surprised. We say, ‘Yes!’ We try to make it as personal an experience as we can for them.
There are still days that someone asks you something that you don’t know the answer to, even after three years. There’s a real camaraderie here and we all step in and help our colleagues out.
There are some amazing moments. I recently spoke to someone who fought in the Second World War. He’s in his 90s and wants to use our friendship services. Just amazing. I did feel quite honoured to speak to a gentleman like that. Some people are seriously underestimated in society; some are lost in the world of technology. That’s why our jobs are so important.
I am also a member of the Independent Age Readers’ Panel. When the charity’s developing new guides or other information materials, I see the guides and can review them from the Helpline’s point of view. I can give feedback about the accuracy of the content, the design and how readable something is.
"Even if someone is ringing up to ask for one of the guides, I find my job rewarding. I know that I’m passing on important information that can help someone in their life."
The guides are great, I love them, they are written so well and so user friendly. The friendship service is also a wonderful thing. The fundraising is amazing as well. The campaign for Free Personal Care is so important. We already have Free Personal Care in Scotland and to us it’s astonishing how much people in England and Wales are having to pay.
Recently I answered the team’s 100,000th call and was presented with a lovely bottle of something. It’s amazing how we have grown from what we started with. From the manager down, the team is excellent. There’s a lot to be proud of at Independent Age."
You can call our free Helpline on 0800 319 6789.