befriending

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A Volunteer’s Story – Befriending Week 2019

‘I first met J, a 90 year old lady in January 2014. It was the first time I’d been a befriender but my flat is 5 minutes from her home so it was really convenient. We were both uncertain of how it would go but we found it easy to chat over tea and her delicious homemade cakes.

As time passed, I helped her with her garden and we got closer. I was really interested to hear about her life and she was interested in mine too. We became real friends.

J turned 96 this month and I’m proud to say that we have really grown to love one another. We are very different in ages and background but we just seemed to click and enjoy any time we spend together.

J now has live-in carers so is still happily living in her home. I visit 2 or 3 times a week and on good days we play cribbage, which she taught me, and I still do her garden under her careful supervision!

I am so glad I became a befriender and met this wonderful lady.’

For a growing number of people, particularly those in later life, loneliness can define their lives and have a significant impact on their wellbeing. 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone, of whom over 2 million are aged over 75.

We have befriending volunteering opportunities all over Surrey. It’s an easy process and you will get as much as you give – please make a difference and be a friend.

Surrey Heath Age Concern http://www.sh-ac.org.uk call 01252 266841

Age UK Surrey : https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services/ call 01483 503414

Time to Talk https://voluntarysupport.org.uk/volunteering/time-to-talk/ call 01276 707565

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Befriending in North Surrey

Time to Talk is our befriending project in Surrey Heath. Over the last 6 months we’ve heard some lovely stories from our befrienders and the people they’ve spent time with:

Glen’s daughter became concerned about her mum who had always loved to chat was now struggling to socialise. Glen had suffered a loss, been unwell, moved house and was feeling lonely and isolated. ‘Time to Talk’ matched Glen with Yasmin, one of our volunteers, they hit it off immediately and Yasmin has visited Glen weekly ever since.

Glen’s daughter has noticed a big difference in her mum since the visits started. Glen very much enjoys Yasmin’s company, her visits are ‘the highlight of Mum’s week’. ‘Absolutely gorgeous’ is how Glen describes her time spent with Yasmin, ‘it gives me something to look forward to, we talk about all sorts of things, current affairs, dating and have a good laugh’.

Yasmin tells us that she wished she started volunteering years ago because the time she spends with Glen is lots of fun and flies by. They enjoy sharing stories and experiences, including the way dating has changed over the years, Yasmin had never heard of a dance hall!!

It’s a small thing to be a friend but it has such a huge impact. Why don’t you make a difference to someone’s life by being a Time to Talk volunteer https://voluntarysupport.org.uk/volunteering/time-to-talk/

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Time for a Cuppa

There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia right now and approximately 3000 people in our community of North Surrey. We can all feel lonely at times but people living with dementia and those who care for them face even bigger challenges. A third of people with dementia said they had lost friends following their diagnosis. The stigma around dementia can lead to people becoming isolated and poor experiences with the general public can make people withdraw from society. Becoming socially isolated can lead to a loss of confidence and a sense of loneliness, both of which have a negative impact on well-being.

Dementia UK are tackling the issues around dementia by providing specialist nurses to help people live positively with dementia but we can all do something to help others. Reaching out to people in our community who may be lonely or socially isolated can make a big difference. A small gesture like sharing a cuppa with a person who is feeling lonely can give so much, they will have something to look forward to, a sense of connection to others and a feeling that they are cared for. As one lady recently matched with a befriender said ‘I just miss having conversations with people’. 

You can tackle loneliness in your community and raise funds for Dementia UK during Time for a Cuppa week (1st to 8th of March). Why not share a tea party with friends and family, or reach out to someone in your community who may be lonely.

You can make a longer term difference by being a befriender in our local community so get in touch with alison@voluntarysupport.org.uk or elaine@voluntarysupport.org.uk to find out more.

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