British Red Cross sets up coronavirus support line to provide listening ear and help to people affected by pandemic


British Red Cross has set up a free phone line to help people facing a range of issues due to coronavirus and the lockdown period.

Members of the ‘psychosocial and mental health’ team at the British Red Cross will be on-hand to provide practical and emotional support, for anything from accessing food or medicines to dealing with loneliness.

The Red Cross coronavirus support line telephone number is 0808 196 3651 and is open daily from 10am to 6pm. The service is free, and completely confidential.

Norman McKinley, British Red Cross executive director of UK operations said:

“We want to make sure that people are getting the help they need during the isolation period. We’re especially worried about those who may not be in contact with organisations or support networks, who could ‘fall through the cracks’. Our volunteers are taking calls from people who are struggling to get hold of medicines or food – especially those who are shielding at the moment.

“Our volunteers are all trained in psycho-social skills. They can provide a listening ear, practical advice, and signpost people to organisations in their area that can help. Having someone on the end of the phone when you feel most alone can be a lifeline in times like this.”

The Red Cross coronavirus support line will be staffed by experienced Red Cross psychosocial volunteers, many of whom have worked on previous emergency responses. British Red Cross have activated the Support line to help people during the infected blood enquiry, the Grenfell Tower fire and the terror attacks of 2017.

British Red Cross volunteers are already working in communities across the UK to support those made most vulnerable by the coronavirus outbreak, from food distributions to ambulance support and welfare checks.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the free Red Cross coronavirus support line on 0808 196 3651 to speak to a friendly British Red Cross volunteer.

Support line volunteer Sandra, comes from a teaching background and has volunteered and worked for British Red Cross for over 25 years. Based in Newport, Sandra is part of the Emergency Response team and would normally support people in Wales and the South West caught up in emergencies, like flooding or house fires. She also provided first aid at events and was part of the Red Cross Ambulance Support Service for almost 5 years. Now she is shielding at home but still able to volunteer for the Red Cross coronavirus support line.

Sandra has been a support line volunteer for the last three weeks and has done eight shifts so far as a call handler.

“When the opportunity came along to volunteer for the support line, I was delighted. I would like to have been out there with my colleagues and I couldn’t be, so to do this from home was the next best thing” said Sandra.

“The lines have been quite busy over the last few days. People are getting to know now that there is this number that they can ring in confidence. We are able to provide emotional support but in fact, most of the calls are about practical things. People who are worried about getting their prescriptions, they might be running out of food, or they are anxious about the hospital or a doctor’s appointment. There can also be calls from people who are getting to the end of their tether and are glad of somebody to talk to.”

“So far, I think it’s been very beneficial.”

Volunteers from the support line can refer people to local projects or contact Red Cross community teams who can help.

Sandra said: “People who call are anxious about prescriptions or have had some food delivered by the Red Cross and they’re not sure whether they would get any more. If people are running out of food or medicines in the next day or two, we can do an urgent referral and the local Red Cross teams will do their best to get back to them that day or the next day.

“We’ve got access to online resources and we can refer people to their local community hub where they can access help. If they need deliveries, if they are shielding or are on the vulnerable list, we can point them in the right direction. We can check if they are registered as vulnerable, which normally would happen through their GP. That gives them access to things like priority home deliveries from supermarkets.

“With the online resources we have access to, we can put the caller’s postcode in and it will bring up local resources for their area, whether it’s for food or anything else. We can also look up helplines and signpost people to other charities. We can access lots of different materials to signpost them to for further help which I think is really good.

“I am very enthusiastic about the Red Cross. I’ve pretty much loved every minute, met some really wonderful people working or volunteering alongside me, or being supported by the different services that I helped deliver. I think it’s amazing to have this opportunity.”

For more information about the British Red Cross visit