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News > My ray of sunshine: Kindness Call volunteer brings hope to stroke survivor

My ray of sunshine: Kindness Call volunteer brings hope to stroke survivor

Stroke survivor Chris Smith has found a friend for life in Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Kindness Volunteer Freya Riley.

And at Christmas the pair found themselves with a different voice on their twice-weekly phone calls – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

First Minister joins Kindness Call

The First Minister joined the Fifers to show her support for the Christmas Together campaign, a joint initiative between Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and the Together Coalition to help relieve loneliness.

For Chris, 70, of Springfield, near Cupar, life looked bleak when he was discharged from hospital after his stroke last March. But all that changed when he was paired with Kindness Volunteer Freya, 18, of Kelty. The duo now speak twice weekly and have become firm friends.

“It’s clear the kindness calls make a huge difference to both of them”

After joining them for a chat before Christmas, Ms Sturgeon said: “It was great to speak to Chris and Freya. We talked about the passion they have for food and how much the calls they share every week matter to them.

“It’s clear the kindness calls make a huge difference to both of them and have really helped Chris at a difficult time.

“Words will never be able to describe how tough this pandemic has been for people across the country. But even small acts of kindness like a phone call to someone who may be feeling lonely can give so much hope.”

freya kindness call volunteer

A ray of sunshine

Chris lives on his own and used to chat to his brother and sister regularly by phone but had sadly lost each of them in the months before his stroke. With no sign of any company because of lockdown rules, Chris faced a lonely time.

Chris, who is registered blind but has some sight, says: “I was on my own when I got home. I used to speak to both my sister and my brother on the phone, but they both passed away and I didn’t really have anyone left to chat to. I was really missing having a chat on the phone. I’m limited to what I can do, and I was completely on my own.”

“We have such a laugh and a joke, and I really look forward to her calls”

The uplifting change came when Hazel Staniforth, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Community Support Services Co-ordinator for Perth & Kinross, got in touch and asked Chris if he’d like a weekly call from a Kindness Volunteer.

A delighted Chris recalls: “Then Freya started calling me twice a week. We have such a laugh and a joke, and I really look forward to her calls. We’ve become great pals.

“It’s so nice that she gives up her time twice a week to check in with me, and we talk for about an hour. She’s always on time and I know I can count on her call. We talk about music, and food and I tell her all about my garden.

“Her calls have been so good for me. It cheers me up no end knowing there is someone at the end of the phone.

“I call her my wee sunshine because she just brightens up my day! I don’t know what I’d do without my calls with Freya.”

Making a difference

Freya is doing a primary teaching degree at university. She became a Kindness Volunteer last March after seeing an advert for digital volunteers on social media.

She said: “I was happy to take on the Kindness Call role as I am living at home with my mum and dad and it was nice to chat to someone else other than them! I don’t have any elderly people in my life as my grandparents passed away, so it was great to be matched up to Chris for that reason.

“I would encourage people to sign up and help someone.”

“We have a good chat twice a week, and it is lovely to know you are making a difference to someone’s life. The elderly generation have so many stories to tell, and he is always full of stories and tales. We talk about lots of different things and always have a laugh. He is just a delight to chat to and I really look forward to our calls.

“I would encourage people to sign up and help someone. I know how happy my call makes Chris feel and I know it makes such a difference to him. We were strangers at the start, but now we are firm friends, and we hope to be able to meet up sometime soon so we can see each other in person.”

If you or someone you know would benefit from a Kindness Call, please sign up at

People are leaving hospital feeling scared and alone. You can change that.

Your donation can help people do more than just survive – you can help them really live.


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