Expanding the Friendly Calls Program

Canadian Red Cross

Expanding the Friendly Calls Program

Creating and fostering stronger, more connected communities

Across the country, people count on the Canadian Red Cross to assist them when they are facing a crisis, and to help them stay safe and healthy.

The Friendly Calls program is designed to help people feel more connected to their community. It matches people over the age of 18 with trained Red Cross personnel who connect with them regularly to check-in, provide emotional support, encourage healthy coping strategies, and suggest well-being resources and community connections to other existing services.

It aims to enhance social connectedness and well-being, with a focus on reaching older adults, Indigenous peoples, frontline workers, parents, caregivers and anyone who could benefit from greater connection, or anyone who may have limited social and family links, can receive regular support over the phone for encouragement and the power of feeling heard.

Thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross is expanding the Friendly Calls program to connect with even more people across the country. The program’s expansion builds upon Canadian Red Cross’ demonstrated success in using telephone support to enhance social connectedness and fill gaps in access to basic psychosocial support. The program has also enhanced its service model thanks to a centralized intake, as well as greater standardization and accessibility across geographies, demographics, and abilities.

Throughout this project, the Canadian Red Cross will work collaboratively with many key partners including the Canadian Institute for Social Prescribing, a pan-Canadian network focused on equity, intersectoral collaboration and community leadership in the scaling and spreading of social prescribing across the country to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

The Friendly Calls program is safe, accessible, and free. It is available nationwide, and anyone can sign up or learn more by calling 1-833-979-9779 toll-free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time on weekdays or visiting www.redcross.ca/friendlycalls.

WHO

Primary audience:
Older adults, Indigenous peoples, frontline workers, parents, and caregivers

Secondary audience:
Anyone over the age of 18 who could benefit from greater connection or who may have limited social and family links.

WHAT

Objectives

  • Expand the Friendly Calls Program to reach priority populations across the country.
  • Reduce anxiety and depression, as well as feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Enhance social connectedness, well-being, and connection to community.
  • Fill gaps in access to basic psychosocial support.

HOW

  • Match people over the age of 18 with trained Red Cross personnel who connect with them regularly to check-in, provide emotional support, encourage healthy coping strategies, and suggest well-being resources and community connections to other existing services.
  • Work collaboratively with key partners including the Canadian Institute for Social Prescribing, a pan-Canadian network focused on equity, intersectoral collaboration and community leadership in the scaling and spreading of social prescribing across the country.
  • Ensure that the Friendly Calls program is safe, free, and accessible across geographies, demographics, and abilities.

WHERE

Settings

  • Telecommunication

Implementation sites

  • National

WHY

  • COVID-19 disconnected many people from their social networks and exacerbated the mental health challenges of many communities across the country.
  • The pandemic highlighted significant challenges, including social isolation, loneliness, fear, and uncertainty.
  • The Friendly Calls Program is designed to help people feel heard and connected to their community.

 

In the words of the project team members

“There’s that inherent magic…that protective quality, where we actually feel heard. We feel that someone’s listening to us. Where we matter. And that can ripple out in preventative and protective qualities in many aspects of our life.”

Key protective factors

  • Supportive relationships in the community
  • Social Networks
  • Coping
  • Access to health and support services

Key approaches

  • Strengths-based
  • Social-Prescribing

 

Anyone can sign up or learn more by calling 1-833-979-9779 toll-free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time on weekdays

Public Health Agency of Canada news release