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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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Start a Conversation

We are midway through National Conversation Week, a week in which we are challenged to try a little harder to engage with those around us; to start a conversation. Most of us are guilty of sending a text, writing an email or searching online, rather than speaking with someone, but for those of us experiencing loneliness, this online world can increase feelings of social isolation.

Loneliness impacts people of all ages and stages of life, it does not discriminate.

Around 15% of working age people and a similar number of 65-70 year olds, reported feeling lonely in a recent study. Reports of loneliness in the 17-25 age range are as high as 43%.

Loneliness can have a significant impact on our health and well being, on a par with smoking 15 cigarettes a day and costs the NHS £1.8 billion a year. It is easy to do something to help.

Talking to one another is rewarding, interesting and fun. Why not to spend this week trying a little harder to talk with people around you. Chat to the person next to you at the bus stop, catch up with old friends or call in on an elderly neighbour.

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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