A spike in calls to Lifeline since coronavirus has confirmed that belief, with many calls largely related to loneliness and anxiety.
To counter both of these pandemics, a collaboration of denominational leaders in the Hunter region has led to the creation of Hello Hunter.
Hello Hunter aids people who are feeling isolated, lonely or anxious. Volunteers are available to make a friendly phone call, deliver essentials, assist in finding specialised help or on request pray with the person.
Hello Hunter’s call centre takes requests for assistance, then neighbourhood hubs mobilise their volunteers. Hubs are formed according to suburb and postcode. The goal is to have their nearest neighbour assist the person in need.
Leaders from many different church denominations including the Catholic Church have worked together to launch the initiative, and over 30 churches in the region have engaged with it.
Director of Pastoral Ministries, Teresa Brierley, is the representative for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Mrs Brierley said Hello Hunter allows local churches to work together, instead of trying to meet the need on their own.
“We all live in a community, so if that community can look after one another, how good would that be?” Mrs Brierley said.
Mr Prosser said churches are meant to meet the needs of the people surrounding them, and that Hello Hunter allows churches to do this effectively. He is passionate about churches working together, which he says is “a great witness to the city of the love of Jesus. It allows churches to focus on what we agree on, rather than on differences.”
Hello Hunter provides the opportunity for many people to be involved in helping others. Some volunteers are able to deliver food, while others are able make phone calls and pray.
“A friendly chat can bring life and hope back into a community,” Mr Prosser said. “Older people or those who do not have as much mobility are in a perfect position to be able to do this ministry. Their many years of wisdom mean they have so much to contribute to our community.”
In a recent trial of Hello Hunter, those receiving the phone call and those making the call felt encouraged. “That’s the nature of it,” Mr Prosser said. “If you give something away, it bounces back to you.”
Hello Hunter is looking for volunteers and hub leaders. Volunteers will be required to submit a form, validated by their local parish priest, pastor or parish leader. Go to hellohunter.org.au for more information.