Located in the very heart of North Point Shopping Centre is Bransholme Chat. Run by Back to Ours, the National Lottery community fund-funded Chat Shop offers a safe and welcoming space for members of the local community to come and have a good natter.
This is an essential service that gives people a lifeline and the reassurance they’re not alone - even when they couldn’t open through lockdowns, the team launched a newsletter and dedicated phone service to stay in touch with some of the most isolated and vulnerable people in Hull neighbourhoods.
In May, the Bransholme Chat team celebrated 100 weeks of phone calls - 1220 calls in total - with volunteers Meg and Graham. Since the start of the lockdown, they’ve been at the end of the phone offering chat and support to those who need it most, and now they’re back in person in the shop every Tuesday.
Talking about how it feels to have reached such an impressive milestone, Meg said: “It means a lot to us that we’re able to support so many people just by making a simple phone call once a week to show that someone cares about them and that Back to Ours has enabled and trusted us to do this over the past 25 months. During that time our phone calls have included chatting about anything and everything you can imagine but, most importantly, we’ve all had a good giggle.”
Sheila started her journey with Bransholme Chat as a user of the service. After months of speaking to Meg and Graham over the phone, Sheila wanted to give something back and she’s now a Steering Group member of Bransholme Chat as well as a Back to Ours Hub member. She says: “It’s hard for me to describe just how important Bransholme Chat has been for me. When I first moved here from North Hull, I didn’t really know anyone, so to be able to speak to the team here was amazing.
“When lockdown hit, I couldn’t leave the house and I wasn’t able to see anyone. Other than speaking to my son on the phone, Meg and Graham were some of the only people I could speak to and it was a massive help. “I don’t know what I would have done without them to be honest. They were a real lifeline for me.”
Now lockdown restrictions have faded, Bransholme Chat’s open Tue-Sat to welcome the community for some much-needed chat and different activities - from hosting Back to Ours shows, craft activities and free dance sessions every Thursday with choreographer Holly Gibbs, there’s always something going on and plenty to chat about!
Read more at backtoours.co.uk/bransholme-chat, or connect with them on Facebook @BransholmeChatBTO