Friendly Calls Program provides needed connections during historic Atlantic storm

By Dean Pogas, Director, Communications, Canadian Red Cross 

A person smiles while on the phone talking to a Friendly Calls volunteerA little conversation can make a big difference

Friendly Calls is a Canadian Red Cross program that matches people over the age of 18 with trained Red Cross personnel. Through regular phone check-ins, our program offers emotional support, healthy coping strategies, and well-being resources and services.

While the  Friendly Calls Program provides emotional support to people experiencing loneliness and isolation in their everyday lives, what some may not know is that the program can also help participants during sudden and challenging events.

Record-breaking snowfall and its impact on Atlantic Canada

In February, Atlantic Canada was hit by its heaviest snowfall in more than two decades leaving thousands snowed into their homes and resulting in a state of emergency for parts of Nova Scotia.

With power outages and disruptions to usual services such as food delivery programs like Meals on Wheels, some Friendly Calls participants were feeling particularly isolated and vulnerable.

Within 12 hours, the Red Cross Friendly Calls team reached out to more than 120 program participants in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to check on their physical wellness and emotional well-being, and provided coping strategies to mitigate the effects a storm like this can have on someone’s overall health. 

“Your phone call was everything to me and I am so grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart… I was feeling pretty alone until you called,” shared one program participant from Nova Scotia.

Behind the phone, the dedicated Friendly Calls team asked whether participants had adequate water, food, warmth, and prescriptions if conditions became worse. They also collaborated with them on how to manage feelings of anxiety and concern about the storm with effective strategies such as reaching out to neighbours and listening to music.


A headshot of Nithya Mahesh“Each participant expressed their appreciation for checking in on them,” says Nithya Mahesh, Friendly Calls coordinator in Nova Scotia with the Canadian Red Cross. “The Friendly Calls Program is a thoughtful way to help ensure the well-being of existing participants with the care and consideration they needed during the challenging times the storm brought.” 

With dedication and compassion, the Friendly Calls team continues to be on the other side of the line when needed. "I’m very grateful to be part of such an amazing program," added Nithya. 

Interested in the Friendly Calls program? Join our community today

If you would like to receive friendly calls, sign up by calling 1-833-979-9779 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, or visit our sign up page.

If you are interested in becoming a friendly calls volunteer, visit our Friendly Calls Volunteer page to learn more about opportunities, onboarding, and important information. 

To learn more about the Friendly Calls Program, access our Frequently Asked Questions.

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