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Vienna starts new loneliness hotline

Vienna starts new loneliness hotline

You can call, no matter what you want to talk about

A new project led by Volkshilfe, Samariterbund and the Petitioners’ Association is offering Viennese people a way to cope with loneliness. The group started the “Talking is good” hotline aimed primarily, but not exclusively, at the elderly and providing services in both German and Turkish.

According to a survey done by Statistics Austria in 2020 around a quarter of Viennese residents are living alone, with the share going up to a third, for people aged 65 and older. Pandemic measures from the past few months have no doubt deepened the issues associated with these living conditions.

There is more than enough loneliness to go around

This is why ex-Mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl and current president of Volkshilfe Wien thought the loneliness hotline was a good idea. According to the Austrian state broadcasting network (ORF), he claimed that the pandemic has brought the issue to the forefront.

Harry Kopietz, state president of the Vienna Pensioners' Association added that loneliness is a problem for the whole population. At the same time, he did not feel that the new line would be a competitor to “Advice of Wire” - a similar program aimed at children and teenagers.

The organisations involved have a long history of social involvement

Volkshilfe, founded in 1947 is a non-profit social service provider, supporting people in need. They focus on a wide variety of issues, mainly regarding labour, poverty, childcare and people with disabilities.

At the same time, Samariterbund (or The Samaritan Association) has a 90-year-old track record covering a range of similar domains, with a focus on providing added health benefits and services aimed at migrants.

The three organisations have gathered a pool of 30 volunteer operators for the new service. Ten of them can speak Turkish with plans to maybe expand into Serbo-Croatian language services, too.  

The website for the loneliness hotline encourages everyone to make the call, no matter what they want to talk about, be it hobbies, mundane things or how COVID-19 is affecting their lives.

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