Loneliness Awareness Week 2022

Tackling loneliness through volunteering

It is Loneliness Awareness Week, created and hosted by The Marmalade Trust. Loneliness is a normal feeling, with one in five people in the UK feeling lonely.

Evidence shows that loneliness can affect people’s mental and physical health. People are naturally social; feeling connected with, and giving to, others is a key factor of our emotional well-being.

The best way to combat loneliness is to talk with someone and volunteering is a great way to do this. We know that volunteering gives people a sense of community and that volunteers experience a physiological response to doing good. Meeting others and being part of a team all help increase people’s sense of well-being.

There are a number of local organisations that are in need of befrienders and other support roles which aim to support people who may feel lonely. Our own Time to Talk service in Surrey Heath has volunteer befrienders who are matched with people in the local community.

If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering, take a look at the volunteering opportunities on our website or call us on 01932 571122.

If you’re feeling lonely, the NHS Every Mind Matters and Healthy Surrey websites both have useful tips and information.

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Random Acts of Kindness

In this Random Acts of Kindness week, we are all encouraged to make kindness the norm.

Take this week as an opportunity to show appreciation for those around us, notice those in need, give back to others, and to pay it forward.

Over 9 million adults in the UK are often and always lonely. You'd be amazed at how long people remember a small act of kindness - it really does make the world of difference.

Volunteer befrienders give their time to show kindness to people experiencing loneliness and isolation. Befrienders usually visit or phone lonely and isolated people once a week, to have a chat and to remind them that someone is thinking of them. The person being visited has something to look forward to and someone new to share their experiences with, and the befriender takes gets pleasure from making a difference to someone else.

Our befriending project Time to Talk encourages our befrienders to show little acts of kindness to the person they are matched with. Volunteer John visits or calls Frank on a weekly basis. For much of the day Frank is sat in an armchair looking out of the window. To give Frank something to enjoy looking at, John gave Frank a bird feeder and some bird seed. Frank now enjoys watching the birds in his garden and chatting with John about what he has seen. This little act of kindness made such a difference to Frank and John takes great pleasure in knowing this. ‘I was happy to do it’ said John, it was a little something to brighten Frank’s Day.’

Lucy made regular telephone calls to Jean throughout the first lockdown. They got on famously throughout this time chatting and when they finally met face to face, they got to know one another even better. As Jean was unlikely to see family on her birthday, Lucy was keen to organise a special treat, so she made arrangements to take Jean to the local garden Centre for tea and cake. Jean was delighted to have been remembered by Lucy on her special day and Lucy shared with us that it ‘makes her happy to know that she has made someone else happy and brightened their day.’

Lisa visited Amy every week for a number of months, In conversation, Amy shared that she had never been able to visit the grave of someone special she had lost, years ago. Lisa made the decision to surprise Amy one day, by driving her to the grave and staying with her whilst she laid flowers for the very first time. For Amy, this was a long-term wish fulfilled and a very precious moment. Our volunteer Lisa explained that for her ‘it was a small thing’ that she ‘wanted to support Amy fulfil her wish,’ ‘it was an honour’ and brought her ‘immense pleasure to be able to do it.’

We're so grateful to all volunteers who support others with their acts of kindness.

If you live in Surrey Heath find out more about Time to Talk here or Surrey-wide, there are lots of local organisations looking for volunteer befrienders - click here for some ideas or contact us for more help if you don't find what you're looking for.

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Befriending Week 2021

This befriending week, we are celebrating everything that befriending is, the difference it makes to individuals, families and communities, and the amazing contribution made by the many wonderful volunteer befrienders out there.

Loneliness is a growing issue in our society and has been a particular concern throughout the pandemic. Most people have experienced feelings of isolation in the last year and a half but for a lot of people in our communities, feelings of isolation and loneliness are enduring. Being matched with a volunteer befriender, having something to look forward to and someone to share stories with, is such a positive experience for people and beneficial to health.

Befriending can make a big difference to the lives of people who are matched with a befriender, but it can also offer some comfort to family members. We live in a society in which, many people live some distance from their families. Being able to refer a loved one to a befriending service can be a relief to family members who are concerned about a loved one who is feeling lonely or isolated. They can rest in the knowledge that every week their loved one will have a friendly visit from a trusted organisation.

Befriending can also provide a link between a person experiencing feelings of isolation, to their local community. Befrienders can tell the person they are matched with, stories from their neighbourhood, they may be able to visit the local shops or have a drink with their befriender in a local cafe. Feelings of isolation and loneliness diminish which is hugely beneficial for emotional wellbeing.

Befriending is not however a one-way experience. Volunteer befrienders report how much they enjoy the visits they make. They talk about the rewards of knowing you are making a difference, the joy of meeting someone knew and hearing their stories. They report how happy it makes them feel, to know they are bringing happiness to others. Befriending can be a wonderful way to manage your own feelings of loneliness too, as volunteers are also building new friendships and giving something back to their community.

At Time to Talk, we are so grateful to all of our wonderful volunteers. They have supported people throughout the pandemic, finding creative ways to stay in touch with people, doorstep visits, sitting in gardens, going for walks. They have offered their time every week to make a difference to someone else. Without our volunteers, we would not be able to provide the support that we do.

Befriending week is an opportunity to extend a huge thank you to all volunteer befrienders. You are keeping people connected, making people smile and reminding people that someone out there cares.

Thank you

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