The Covid-19 lockdown has physically isolated people at a level never seen before in New Zealand, but St John says it is well positioned to help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation at home with its free Caring Caller service, connecting people who need a friend with others who have time to listen and chat on the phone.

St John had moved to extend the free Caring Caller service in order to provide support to people who might be feeling a bit lonely during lockdown, or just need to check in with someone.

"Due to Covid-19 we have had to suspend some of our community programmes, such as Friends of the Emergency Department, Community Carers and Pet Therapy, and many of these valuable volunteers are moving into Caring Caller roles," Ms Manley said.

"Our volunteers in these programmes are highly skilled in connecting with others and offering support and empathy, skills that transfer easily into the Caring Caller role. It is absolutely vital that we come together at this time to help and care for each other."

Advertisement

The Caring Caller service was fully funded by donations, and was not a helpline, but phone friendship service, Ms Manley urging anyone who would like to receive daily phone calls, or knew someone who would, to register by phoning 0800 000 606.

"New Zealand finds itself in an unprecedented situation, and St John will continue to provide communities with the support they need during this time," she said.