Introduction At the beginning of lockdown there was an increase in calls to the Marie Curie National Support Line, with callers saying that they felt lonely and isolated and in need of someone to talk to. To meet this need, the Check in and Chat service was created for people with a terminal illness, those close to them and their carers, and those who had been bereaved. Clients were matched with a trained volunteer who would call them once a week for up to 30 minutes.
Aims This qualitative evaluation aimed to explore client experiences of accessing the Check in and Chat service and the difference that it had made to them.
Method Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals who had accessed the service. Clients varied in length of time with the service, with some still accessing it and others who had stopped. Interviews were analysed thematically.
Results The service was found to meet the expectations of its clients. Key themes centred around:
how the service provided a space for clients to talk about issues and concerns that they felt unable to discuss with those close to them;
providing company in a time of isolation;
offering clients consistency by having a phone call at the same time this week.
Conclusions The evaluation provides evidence that the service makes a difference to its clients, with interviewees reporting feeling more able to cope with their situation after their calls with their volunteer and look forward to chatting with them again.
Impact The service was able to make a difference to those who were bereaved during the pandemic, at a time where clients’ normal support networks were not there. For some, the service helped make their grief more bearable, providing the support needed to deal with their pain and also providing hope.
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