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Fighting loneliness during self-isolation: stay in touch through the COVID-19 pandemic with free conference calls

Fighting loneliness during self-isolation is becoming a growing concern as the coronavirus crisis mounts. Governments in Spain, France and Italy have already imposed strict social distancing measures. In Spain, most people have been restricted to their own homes except to visit a medical professional, buy medicine or visit their nearest shop. Meanwhile, French cinemas, cafes, shops and other venues have closed and the public urged to remain home. Italians have been on lockdown for days. Here in the UK, it is expected that over-70s will soon be instructed to self-quarantine, too, reportedly for an extended period of time. For a social group whose health and wellbeing have for decades been undermined by isolation and solitude, loneliness during self-isolation may be a daunting thought. Luckily, there are ways for families and loved ones to stay in touch.

Respecting social distancing measures

While fighting loneliness during self-isolation is certainly a pressing concern, we’re by no means suggesting anybody disregards advice from medical or governmental bodies. Admittedly, the UK government has not yet implemented similar measures to several other European nations, though its scientists have urged it to do so in a recent open letter. But any who have been in contact with somebody who has had COVID-19, or who themselves have symptoms, have been asked to self-quarantine. We’ve also been encouraged to reduce physical contact and proximity.

Many are choosing to go beyond official measures nonetheless. It is expected that millions of workers will now work from home, or even renounce working altogether if telecommuting isn’t feasible. There’s also a reduction in people spending their leisure time in public places. In fact, the government has recently announced it will likely ban large gatherings.

At the same time, some people who are elderly, immunocompromised or suffer from existing respiratory issues are opting for self-quarantine or reduced social contact. And while choosing not to visit your older or unwell loved ones seems wise, fighting loneliness during self-isolation is also important. Ultimately, we are all in this crisis together. It feels contradictory, but respecting social distancing is a vital part of that. To be a team, we have to act in everybody’s best interests. At the moment, it seems that physical distancing is crucial. But that doesn’t mean any of us needs to feel alone.

 

Why fighting loneliness during self-isolation matters

Minimising the spread of the pandemic is doubtless a top priority. The virus poses a serious risk to many people’s health, and has already tragically claimed lives. But loneliness also brings many health-risks. In fact, it rivals obesity and smoking in damaging effects. There are even organisations, like campaigntoendlonliness.org, dedicated to combating loneliness for the elderly – such is the medical concern. Many of us likely remember campaigns like the one Cadbury launched in partnership with Age UK, removing all the words from its chocolates’ packaging to highlight the lack of conversation in some older people’s lives.

The fact is, loneliness can create and worsen health conditions. It increases the likelihood of death by a huge 26%. It’s also linked to coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. The fact it generally heightens frailty also leaves the lonely more vulnerable. In fact, loneliness even raises your risk of a depleted immune system. That could be potentially fatal amidst the current pandemic.

Given its hugely detrimental impact on health, fighting loneliness during self-isolation needs to be part of the conversation as we tackle coronavirus. While respecting social distancing measures and maintaining good hygiene appear the current priorities, there is no reason these come at the cost of loneliness.

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Conference call loved ones to fight loneliness during self-isolation

We live in modern times. Social contact no longer requires physical contact. Of course, nothing can replace a cuddle from a loved one. But we all know how a cheery chat on the phone can brighten a day.

Families might soon have to remain in their separate homes. Luckily, there are ways to stay in touch. Whether you live two streets over or on opposite coasts, you can have your Sunday dinner together – remotely. You’ll still be reducing the spread of coronavirus. You’ll just be fighting loneliness during self-isolation at the same time.

The great thing about conference calls at a time like this is that they can bring the whole family together. Sure, any phone call is better than total silence. But humans are essentially pack animals. We’re supposed to live in groups. And dynamics and mood are really different when different people are in the conversation. At WHYPAY?, we’re big believers in ‘the more the merrier’. And one of group phone calls’ many uses is spreading this philosophy. Instead of checking on every friend and relative individually, you can all catch up together. It really will feel like Sunday dinner. Just don’t forget the Yorkshires.

 

Is conference calling a business tool?

Lots of people assume conference calls belong in the business world. The word ‘conference’ can be a bit misleading in that respect. Really, a conference call is just any phone call with more than two people. That means conference calls have all kinds of uses beyond business.

They’ve helped charities and non-profits grow and flourish. And by choosing genuinely free conference calls, these organisations have more funds for their noble work. That’s true in the money WHYPAY? teleconferences have saved the NHS, too. Of course, in the face of coronavirus, minimising physical contact and expenditure while boosting communication is more vital than ever for health-care professionals.

Conference calls have also found their place in the creative sector. Electronic bands have previewed albums via teleconference, for example. And in education too! Teachers, tutors and study groups can use them to catch up. In fact, they can even be held entirely remotely. Again, as people focus on reducing unnecessary contact, this can be a great option for many existing groups.

In short, there’s no reason conference calls should only be for business. But people’s uncertainty comes from more than just the general association. Below, we’ll answer some of the basic questions you might have. These often make people think conference calling is for business.

 

Will I need special technology to conference call?

This is a big one. It’s a totally understandable question. For those unfamiliar with conference calling, it can seem like a high-tech option. It’s something we might see happening in films. High-powered businesspeople or world leaders come together virtually in crisis rooms across the globe to save the planet/economy/business merger… Live videos abound, accessed via finger-prints, eye-scans or voice recognition.

While all of this technology is very much a reality, it’s far from a necessity. In fact, you don’t need any specialist equipment at all to hold a WHYPAY? teleconference.

Even those more familiar with conference calling might not realise how simple it can be. Maybe you have regular conference calls for work. Perhaps you often have meetings with a dial-in option, for example. In these kinds of scenarios, often you’ll be using a high-tech conference call phone. They’re better equipped to pick up lots of spread out voices in a large conference room. They can also amplify sound better than a standard mobile’s speaker-phone setting. Even if you teleconference alone, you might have the system set up on a more sophisticated office phone.

None of this is necessary with WHYPAY? teleconferences, though! All of WHYPAY?’s conference calls are accessed simply by dialling a phone number and entering the room code and PIN. Essentially, if you have any phone, you can join the teleconference. All it needs is the capacity to place a phone call, and a keypad. From the smartest of phones to the most basic flip-phone, from your house landline to a telephone box down the road, find a phone and you can join the conversation. You don’t even need an app like Whatsapp – which is a good thing, as its servers have recently been deemed to have gone into ‘melt down’.

 

Will fighting loneliness during self-isolation be expensive?

Another reason people might leave teleconferencing to the professional realm is cost concerns. Again, this isn’t totally unfounded. There certainly are expensive options out there. For some businesses, specialist features are indispensable. They might need to share documents and be able to edit them together in real-time. Screen sharing is another popular feature. Live-streaming to an online platform can also be a great tool. Of course, these kinds of capacities do often come at a price.

But when it comes to fighting loneliness during self-isolation, you don’t need these nifty features. All you really need is to pick up the phone and have a chat. With WHYPAY?, your whole family, friendship group, book club or congregation can do so, totally free.

As we mentioned, joining a WHYPAY? conference call is as simple as placing any other phone call. And the number you ring will always begin with an 03. It’s this prefix that saves you from paying expensive premium-rate number charges.

According to Ofcom rules, 03 numbers have to be included within your bundled minutes. As long as you have some left in your mobile contract, the call won’t cost you a penny. If you don’t have inclusive minutes, the call will only cost the standard landline rate. So it’s what you’d be paying to check in with just your grandma. Except now, your whole family can be on the line.

 

Will setting up a conference call be difficult?

In this stressful time, you probably don’t want to face a challenging technical task. Often, things that sound the simplest can still be really fiddly to set up. You might be thinking that joining the call itself sounds easy enough, but wondering whether creating an account and scheduling a call will be trickier.

If so, you’ll be relieved to hear that it isn’t! It’s as easy as clicking the button below.

Create a FREE Teleconference

Alternatively, you can visit the WHYPAY? homepage. Just click on ‘Create a Free Conference’ to get started. After you’ve input a few basic details, your teleconference room is generated. By navigating to your Dashboard (from the top right menu on the website), you’ll be able to see your dial-in, conference room, and Personal Identification numbers. These are all you and anyone you invite will need to join.

Is scheduling a conference call complicated?

The first thing to say is that there’s absolutely no need to schedule a call in advance. Once you have your conference call room, it’s yours to use whenever you want. It will be available 24 hours of the day. If the family group chat is becoming particularly interesting, or the TV show your friends are all watching needs dissecting, you can all dial in at a moment’s notice.

Equally, you might want to plan ahead. If you have a forgetful uncle or a flakey friend, it can definitely be helpful. And as we try to remain organised amidst the disruptions coronavirus brings, a calendar reminder can’t hurt. Figuring out how to work from home, trying to entertain kids in the face of cancelled school or activities, and juggling your normal responsibilities can make it easy to lose track of time. Scheduling your catch-up can ensure you carve out some time to fight loneliness as you self-quarantine.

If your method of fighting loneliness during self-isolation is to make a regular activity (like a book club) remote, then you probably will know exactly when it will take place.

If you are in a scenario where planning ahead makes sense, the process won’t be tricky. It’s all easily done from your Dashboard. Just click on the conference call room. If you want a full guide on scheduling a group phone call, you can find one here. If you’re more familiar with using Outlook to schedule events or conference calls, there’s also guidance available. Really, WHYPAY? is compatible with any calendar software you might prefer. And it’s really easy to use!

 

How can conference calls help with fighting loneliness during self-isolation?

You’ve seen by now how suitable conference calling is for people in all walks of life. With WHYPAY?, it’s also an incredibly accessible technology. That’s as true in terms of cost as in terms of ease and technology. You don’t need to pay a penny. It’s as simple as placing a normal phone call. And you can use any kind of phone you have. Plus, you can set up an account in moments and have the conference call room available 24/7.

Because of its simplicity and the fact it’s free, WHYPAY? can be a great choice for fighting loneliness during self-isolation in all kinds of ways.

Many people already know how great group phone calls can be for staying in touch with family. They’ve also proven themselves amongst uni students, for both academic and social purposes.

You might be part of other social groups, too. If book club or creative writing group members are trying to reduce social contact, replacing meetings with conference calls might be a great option.

Another big challenge in this uncertain and scary time might be the inability to attend religious gatherings. During something like a coronavirus epidemic, a lot of people will depend heavily on their faith and their religious community and leaders. There is some comfort, though. In fact, prayer groups have for years used conference calls to maintain their faith even from far away.

 

Choose WHYPAY? in your fight against total isolation

Ultimately, teleconferences are the perfect way of fighting loneliness during self-isolation. You may have worries about your loved ones, your academic groups or your professional endeavours suffering because of quarantines. Conference calling is the solution.

Set up your free WHYPAY? account today to ensure that nobody feels neglected, even as you try to care for them by keeping your distance. Maintaining physical distance doesn’t have to mean cutting ties.

If you’re new to conference calling, there’s no need to feel out of your depth. Have a browse of our blog, where you’ll find loads of helpful guides and tips. It’s an easy way to learn about conference calling! You can also find specific tips on working from home in the midst of coronavirus, or find out how free conference calls can really be free. And if you have any unanswered questions, you can head to the helpdesk, too. Plus, we’re always on-hand to answer any uncertainties! You can easily get in touch via live chat on the bottom right corner of the website, email (helpdesk@whypay.net), or telephone (033 3443 3366).

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Update 24 March 2020: Unfortunately, due to network capacity dimensioning we are no longer able to offer 3 months free on the Pro plan. A tenfold increase in demand for the custom 03 numbers offered on the Pro plan has outstripped our ability to supply these. The new discount codes MON3 and ANN3 will still apply for 3 months free on our Plus plan.
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