Befriending volunteers helping to beat loneliness in the community

It's the small gestures that help alleviate the loneliness often felt by elderly people living on th

New members have joined Seachange as volunteer befrienders - Credit: Archant

Loneliness is a killer. A somewhat dramatic start to my article but it is true nonetheless. Loneliness and isolation are increasing in our community and will continue rising whilst we are in the midst of a pandemic. Every week we receive more requests from other charities and medical professionals to contact individuals who feel lonely.

Last month with the help of the Exmouth Journal we put a plea out for volunteer befrienders. I am very pleased to report that we had an amazing response with 16 new volunteers coming on board. The great thing is that they all come from different walks of life, are of different ages and have different skills to offer. Most volunteers are based in Exmouth which works well as most of our requests for befriending come from the Exmouth area.

Those volunteers can look forward to a future of communication with their community. They will understand the reasons why people are lonely and they will try to combat it through good old-fashioned friendship. Some may ‘just’ speak to another on the phone once a week touching base, making sure all is well. Others will want to dive in further by taking them out for coffee or, as in one case, out for a pint and a game of pool. What a great excuse for a pint that is. I can just imagine telling my wife, “I’m just popping out to volunteer…down the pub.”

I have seen how much of a difference our volunteers make to their new friends. But I also see how happy it makes the volunteer feel too. They grow in confidence the longer they befriend. I sometimes overhear them talking with other befrienders, exchanging anecdotes and experiences excitedly. They tell their close friends of their befriending tales and soon they too will approach us requesting to volunteer. It is a virtuous circle of happiness where everyone wins.

Befriending may be the thing you have been looking for? If you want to help your community, take a look at our website, seachangedevon.org, give us a call 446896 or pop in and see us in Budleigh.

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