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Volunteer Now's Male Buddy Project

05 September 2016

Evidence indicates that older men are more likely to experience social isolation than older women. It shows that this can be particularly true when a spouse dies or if they are experiencing poor health. The evidence also suggests that older men are less likely to ask for help.

Volunteer Now’s ‘Male Buddy Scheme’ is a peer support project for men 50+ and aims to address the issue of social isolation through offering the support of a male ‘buddy’. The Buddy is there to provide practical support, helping to identify an activity or group the person may like to try and possibly accompanying the person on public transport to events/activities. The aim of the scheme is to build confidence to the point that the individual can undertake activities on their own and regain their independence and improve their sense of wellbeing while broadening their social networks.

One example of how Male Buddying works is the story of a gentleman whose wife had passed away and he was feeling isolated. His children bought him a laptop and a tablet and tried to teach him how to use them but like all families they were busy with their own children and work and he didn’t want to be taking up too much of their time. We introduced a volunteer Buddy who spent time each week teaching this man how to use the computer, how to use Google, how to Skype and also how to join Libraries NI virtual services as he is an avid reader. He now Skypes his son and grandson in Scotland, FaceTimes his children and can borrow books online therefore never having to be bookless again! This shows how spending a couple of hours a week with someone and having a clear goal can really improve the quality of life and help broaden social networks.

Volunteer Now are currently looking for male volunteers to ‘buddy’ and support older men living in Belfast. This is a short term placement approximately 6 to 12 weeks depending on each individual relationship. A volunteer buddy may go on to support more than one person through the scheme when available. A volunteer buddy would need to be available 2 to 3 hours each week and initially be able to commit to 12 weeks. Appropriate training is given in advance of placement and out of pocket expenses are covered. Regular support will be offered by the scheme co-ordinator.

For more information please contact: Victoria O’Neill on 028 9023 2020 or email victoria.o’neill@volunteernow.co.uk 

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