Lady on sofa looking at a mobile phone - National Grid's Grid for Good conference calls for elderly in Syracuse

The conference calls keeping elderly people company

Throughout the pandemic many older people have been feeling lonely and isolated. Read about how Grid for Good and our volunteers have been making conference calls to bring smiles to the faces of seniors in Syracuse.

The pandemic has left many older people feeling lonely, isolated and missing some of the support networks they’re used to enjoying in person. But now some of those elders, who had previously been part of the Salvation Army’s ‘Senior Day Program’ in Syracuse, New York, are getting connected with our employee volunteers through a ‘Senior Lunchtime Chat’ instead.

A different kind of conference call

On weekday mornings at 11am, the group of seniors dial into a conference-style phone call led by one of our employees. They exercise, play games and simply chat with each other. Although the original plan was to stand the calls down sooner, due to the high demand and no signs of the pandemic settling, the team involved has decided to keep them going. It’s proving a really positive way to give employees a chance to continue to volunteer and support seniors in their local communities.

Collaborating to alleviate loneliness  

The idea for the calls came about when Carlene Lacey, our Community Relations and Operations Manager for Grid for Good, approached the Salvation Army earlier in the pandemic, to see if there was anything they needed help with. Her contacts there mentioned that they were hearing from seniors saying they were feeling lonely. And so, the idea of the daily chats was born, with the first one taking place back in April.

There have been over 150 calls since then, run as a collaboration between our team, the Salvation Army and another not-for-profit organisation, InterFaith Works. Carlene runs some of the sessions herself, alongside around a dozen other volunteers from among our employees.

Some of the seniors who are regulars dialling in explained how much their daily call means to them:

  • “This one hour kind of takes me out of the anxiety or the worry.”
  • “I look forward to being on the phone. So, I make sure there’s nothing stopping me at 11 o’clock. It makes my day go faster and I have something to look forward to.”
  • “I just feel like this is the social hour of the day. With ladies that I don’t know physically, but I know in my heart and in my spirit.”

As word has spread, others from outside of Syracuse are even joining in the calls. They’re just one small but important part of our approach to supporting communities within our new Responsible Business Charter.