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Social Contact

Why is it important for everyone to have regular contact with people? For one thing, it is important for our mental health. Social contact helps us to cope with stress and major life changes. Knowing that we are valued by others is an important psychological factor in helping us to think more positively about our environment. There is also compelling evidence to suggest human contact is vital as a motivation to look after our physical health.

Social connection is one of the five key ways to maintain positive emotional health. .The five Ways to Wellbeing are to: Connect, to Give, to Take Notice, to Keep Learning and to Be Active. More information can be found on this page of the NHS website.

The opportunities for social contact are slowly increasing as government restrictions are reduced. If appropriate you can:

  • Socialise whenever you can. Even if it’s just a short conversation with the cashier at the supermarket, or the person next to you in the waiting room at the dentists
  • Invite friends or family over. You may feel they don’t want to visit you, especially younger relatives, but they will appreciate an invitation to spend some time with you. If you do not feel it is appropriate to invite someone in yet you could consider going for a walk or meeting in a park.
  • Simply having a chat with a relative or friend over the phone can be a good way to reduce the stress of being alone
  • Learn to use computers. If your friends and family live far away, services such as Skype, FaceTime, Viber, Facebook, and Twitter can help you keep in touch
  • Get out and about. One advantage of being older is public transport is better value.  Please see Getting Out & About section on Live Well York.
  • See what groups and activities there are in your local area add link to the Live Well York Community Activities Directory

We have gathered a range opportunities to help people in York maintain some social contact:

By Phone

Local Area Coordinators (LAC) have a number of volunteers who are happy to arrange a regular telephone call with you to have a friendly chat. If you are struggling then you can let your volunteer know and they will arrange contact with the Local Area Coordinator to support you to find a solution.

You can either contact the council helpline by telephone: 01904 551550, or email: covid19help@york.gov.uk above or look for a LAC in your area to contact direct to see if they have a volunteer available. 

York Neighbours support people over the age of 65 and are providing phone calls. An office volunteer will ring those who do not have family or friends nearby and would like a call, fortnightly or monthly, for a chat and to ask how they are.

Some people may request this only during times of illness, severe weather, or when family, friends or neighbours are going to be away. They can also do small tasks such as shopping, deliveries, and prescription pick-ups which are continuing in Covid-secure ways.

Tea and Coffee Club - Students at the University of York have been running the Tea and Coffee club for over 30 years. They are currently offering weekly phone calls to older people in York. The Tea and Coffee Club can be contacted on 07555 710448, by email and Facebook.

MySight York - has developed a new project, ‘Keeping in Touch’ to initiate and maintain contact with people who may be feeling isolated during COVID-19. The project offers people living with sight loss in and around York a regular phone call from a volunteer.

Volunteers offer a friendly listening ear and the opportunity to share any current concerns about living with sight loss under lockdown. If you would like to keep in touch in this way, or know someone who might please get in touch on 01904 636269 or hello@mysightyork.org.

In Person

Happy to Chat Bench - is an opportunity for people to stop for a natter, led by Age Friendly York with partners. Look out for someone sitting at a bench with a "happy to chat" sign, it's as simple as that, creating an extra opportunity to hear a friendly voice. Now that the spring has arrived the quantity of Happy to Chat benches will start to appear again. Some will be more spontaneous giving the opportunity for people passing by to have a chat, while others are more of a regular slot. Where there is a regular slot they are posted here:

Thursday's 11-1pm - outside St Mary's Church, Haxby (with our Local Area Coordinator Natalie Greaves)

Move the Masses – Move Mates is for absolutely anyone aged 18+ in the York area who needs emotional or motivational support to get out of the house and get walking. Our only criteria is that people must be physically able to walk independently (or with the use of mobility aids). The volunteer Move Mates support people to get outside and go for a walk - for any purpose.

You can request a Move Mate for yourself, or on behalf of somebody else, by using this online form, or call 01904 373017. Move the Masses also have a number of Pop-Up fitness sessions and social walks in their event program

Doorstep Natters - we appreciate that not everybody likes telephone calls and would like to offer the opportunity of a doorstep natter where we can. If this is something you are interested in please contact the council covid-19 help team, by telephone: 01904 551550, or email: covid19help@york.gov.uk, who will request an individual match for you.

York Menfulness - are an organisation which encourages men of all ages to socialise, to let off steam and to improve their wellbeing. They hold a number of group activities including; cycling, football and 'walks and talks' More information can be found on their website and via their Twitter feed.

York 20s Social Group -this is a meet up group for all those people in York who are in their twenties, they hold regular social events and welcome new members with open arms. You can get more information from them here.

York Cares - offers a letter writing scheme through its 'Social Connections' program. They are taking referrals via the council helpline on 01904 551550, and by email: covid19help@york.gov.uk

Wilberforce Trust - offers a penpal scheme for people with a visual impairment, with reading support. Call 01904 760037 or email


Tea and Technology - support with technology is being supplied by Tea and Technology via the University of York. This is support for people to connect to family/friends via social media/video conferencing, or it could be to talk them through online shopping and deliveries. Please request via the City of York Council helpline on 01904 551550 which is open seven days a week.

York Learning - provides a wide range of courses including Digital Computing and Getting Online. as well as arts, business, languages, dance, photography and many more.


Many of the organisations on this page and within this directory are looking for volunteers. As well as helping them, volunteering is a useful way to increase your social contact. Find out more about volunteering.

National Social Contact Offers

There are a range of national organisations and services that provide support through welfare/wellbeing calls across the City. These include both general and more specialised services. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.

The Silver Line is a UK wide helpline and friendship service for people aged fifty five and over. It operates as a confidential, free helpline and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, and all year.

They also offer telephone friendship where they match volunteers with older people based on their interests. They have facilitated group calls and help to connect people with local services in their area.

Independent Age is for anyone over the age of sixty and is run by volunteers. People who wish to use the service can sign up for as long or short a time as they wish and will catch up with their volunteer at a regular time which suits both parties. If at any time the volunteer assigned isn’t working out as hoped, then Independent Age will find a replacement. This service is also free.

Reengage is a national charity committed to older people being heard, valued and engaged. They aim to bring older people together in social groups and use the power of volunteering to enable older people to make new friends and break out of the cycle of social isolation and loneliness. During COVID-19 when physical groups can no longer meet, they are developing and using telephone befriending services to support older people in the community.

Age UK is for people over sixty. The telephone befriending service provides companionship and support to housebound older people living alone in the community. To sign up to this service, the community member must have their own landline or mobile phone, be able to hear and be understood over the phone and be able to commit to a regular weekly call at the same time.

Staff are working from home and are also available for help and support or just a chat.  Several of the usual groups are continuing to meet online or by telephone to offer social and practical support. The Organisation also offers a ‘Talking Space’ counselling service which is continuing to operate on a reduced basis via telephone.

Action for Elders is a national charity that works with local people to make a difference to their quality of life, whatever their circumstances. They offer a number of activities online through their Balanced Lives programmes including a tailored YouTube channel which provides videos on mobility, exercises and wellbeing.

They provide free resources and activities such as digital guides on how to use Zoom and Skype for communication, free loan of tablet computers and wifi dongles.

They also have a number of social activity groups, including a Book Circle, Jigsaw Circle and Afternoon Tea Party Circle. There is also the chance to have peer to peer conversations through their Telephone Trees.

Ability Net volunteers provide free IT support to older people and people with disabilities of any age. Their volunteers can support people located anywhere in the UK. They are all disclosure-checked and can help with all sorts of IT (information technology) challenges, from setting up new equipment, fixing technical issues, showing you how to stay connected to family and use online services.

You can request their support by:


Pets & Loneliness

A study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation and Cats Protection in 2011 found that 87 percent of those who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76 percent said they could cope with everyday life better than before, because of the company their cat provided. Half of cat owners felt their cat’s presence and companionship was the most helpful factor in their wellbeing, while a third described having a cat as a calming and helpful activity.

Caring for a pet can also make you feel valuable and needed, as you are responsible for the care of another. Dogs especially are effective at this, as they require daily walks and a lot of attention.  Walking a dog often leads to conversations with other dog owners, and can help you to stay socially connected with the world.

Complimentary Therapies

You can find some tips on the Live Well York emotional health page

Also you can find a range of emotional wellbeing and mental health support options and complimentary therapies in our Service and Products directory.


Last updated: 01/06/2021