Keeping in touch with friends and neighbours at this time is important – it might even save a life – but phoning even just a few people once a day simply to ask “Are you okay?” can take a lot of time. So here is a practical idea that organisations or neighbourhood groups might want to adopt.

The idea is simple. One person agrees to lead a chain – for the sake of this explanation, let’s call them the chain coordinator. The coordinator compiles a list of each person in their chain, along with their phone number. Each person in the chain is given the name and phone number of the next person along the chain from them and also given the name of the person before them. (They will probably be given a list of all the people in their chain so that they can feel some affinity with the group, but as a minimum all a person in the chain needs to know is who will be phoning them, and who they should phone next.)


On a daily basis:

    • The chain coordinator phones the first person on the list – simply to say “Hello, are you okay?” They can have a chat if they want, as they only have one call to make, but the purpose of the phone call is to pass a chain message.

    • The person who has just been called then phones the next person in the chain and so it continues to the end.

    • The final person on the list phones the chain coordinator completing the loop. If the message goes all the way around the chain, then we can be assured that everyone is OK.

What if something goes wrong?

If someone phones the next person in the chain and there is no answer, they shouldn’t immediately panic, but try again shortly after. If they can’t get an answer, they should then phone the chain coordinator who will decide what action to take. It might be a call to a neighbour, or if they are seriously concerned call for appropriate help.

Having dealt with that issue, they can call the next person in the chain so that the normal work of the chain continues.

FURTHER EXPLANATION: I have prepared a document explaining the idea in more detail. If anyone wants a copy or is interested in establishing this in our local community, let me know via a comment or message. My email is if you want to request a copy that way.