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ABC News

Melbourne resident David Turk describes the building he lives in as "a cesspool of despair".

"I live in a very negative environment," he said.

"It sort of isolates me to my room."

After seeing a flyer for Friend Line — a free service that allows socially isolated people to have a friendly conversation — he decided to give them a call.

"They're a wonderful bunch of people," he said.

"When there's a lot of negativity that's surrounding you, you want to have positive people to associate with and that's what I love."

A friend to call for a chat

Friend Line was established by Patricia Lauria and Laura Rouhan, two friends who had worked in the community service sector.

They started Friend Line after hearing from socially isolated people who struggled with loneliness in the evenings.

"We've had people calling up who had no connections with family, friends or community, and one of the real positives is many of them have become regular callers," Ms Lauria said.

"We've been able to both have that friendly chat — which is sometimes difficult for people who are quite lonely because they're not used to chit-chat — but also we've been able to make suggestions for them about ways they might connect into their local community."

The service has received hundreds of calls since it began in April and is entirely run by volunteers and financial donations.

'There is shame around loneliness'

Ms Lauria said describing it as a service for lonely people had not generated as many calls as when they had advertised it as a having friend to call up for a chat.

"There's a lot of shame around loneliness, even though it's something most people experience in their lifetime," she said.

For Mr Turk, the service has allowed him to chat about books he has read, movies he has seen and what he has done during the day.

"I could just talk my head off to people about all sorts of things," he said.

"This is not a replacement for psychiatry or psychology or any type of counselling, this is just friends to talk friendship stuff.

"It's just a part of a spectrum of wonderful people out there who believe in the community spirit."

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