YJC The Dinner That Never Was

Volunteers step up to help combat loneliness during the pandemic through befriending scheme.


Emma Gold, a 25-year-old fashion stylist and brand creator, never imagined that she would become so close with Yetta, an older member of the community, thanks to Jewish Care’s telephone befriending scheme. 

Before the pandemic, Emma was used to a flexible way of working and used to managing her own time, but when the pandemic hit, studios closed, work began to dry up and she had more time on her hands.

That’s when she reached out to Jewish Care, responding to an email asking for volunteers to become telephone befrienders; making regular phone calls to older members of the community who had suddenly found themselves isolated, lonely, and unable to continue their regular social contact.

Emma said, “I remember being very nervous before calling. I’m not always as confident on the phone as I am in person. What drove me to volunteer was the thought of all those people who rely on Jewish Care for support and who may have had their usual social contact taken away from them due to the pandemic. I kept thinking “What’s their day going to look like now?”. I didn’t really know what to expect when I first called Yetta. We initially had a very short conversation and got on well, but I never imagined that it would become such an ingrained part of my weekly routine, and one that I enjoy every time I pick up the phone. Even now, I call her every single week. There is never any pressure to speak for a long period of time, and sometimes we can be on the phone for five minutes or half an hour discussing everything from art, to my new business venture, to cooking and poetry. I can’t imagine a week that goes by where I don’t call her.

“Yetta and I were both saying how lucky we were to be paired together as we have so much in common. Even though I was initially meant to be the one supporting her, she has helped me in so many ways without even realising it. She has become a real friend, even though we haven’t met in person due to the Covid-19 restrictions. I even sent her flowers on Valentine’s Day this year to let her know that I was thinking of her.

“It can be strange being paired with someone and not knowing what they look like. Yetta has seen a picture of me as I’ve sent one to her, and I have seen a picture of Yetta, on the back of a book she wrote when she was younger. We’ve been speaking every week for nearly a year and I’m looking forward to one day, when it’s safe, being able to meet her in person.

“Even though things have become busier again and we are starting to see a way out of the pandemic, I will still keep calling Yetta. I am so glad that I responded to Jewish Care’s call to help.” 

To find out more about Young Jewish Care and The Dinner That Never Was, please visit here.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive