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Befriending Week 2016 - Arthritis Care

01 November 2016

Befriending Week runs from 1-7 November and has two aims: to raise awareness of the issue of loneliness in our society, and to promote the great work of befriending services.

Arthritis Care NI

Mary was diagnosed with arthritis at 55; she is now 79 and lives in sheltered housing. Her Story-

“My life had become confined to four walls of my room. All I did was sit in my chair all day. I was in so much pain in my hip, leg and right knee from my arthritis and I had nothing to distract me. I’d given up going to my doctor’s appointments as I felt there was no point. I couldn’t afford to get to the appointments anyway.

My sister spotted an advertisement for the Staying Connected service where you could meet with a volunteer befriender on a weekly basis to help support you with your arthritis. This gave me hope for the first time in a long while. My befriender came each week over eight weeks and she talked me through techniques to manage the pain which I found very helpful. She gave me lots of encouragement. This gave me the courage to start mixing with the other people in the housing scheme. 

She built up my confidence and helped me think about hobbies I had enjoyed before my arthritis took over. Talking to my befriender made me realise I wanted to do more. I had always loved knitting, and I thought this would be a good way to meet other residents who lived in my sheltered housing. I’m proud to say that I have already knitted a scarf and been to a coffee morning at my housing scheme. I also joined my local Arthritis Care branch where I met an old friend who I hadn’t seen in over twenty years and it was so special to reminisce with her, it made me feel alive again.

She also helped me to get in touch with the Citizens Advice Bureau to check the benefits I was receiving - it turned out I was able to get more help, and now I have the money to visit my sister as well as pay for taxis to go back to my doctors. I have since been to hospital, and I’m glad I did as I needed urgent help with my vision. The doctors said I would have gone blind if I had waited much longer. I don’t think I would have gone if it was not for the meetings with my befriender. 

The support I’ve received has left me feeling better in myself and more confident. I really enjoyed the meetings with my befriender, she was such a help to me, warm and understanding. She helped me to solve my problems and I looked forward to see her each week.  As a result I feel more positive and have a better outlook on life."

For more information about the work of Arthritis Care NI please visit www.arthritiscare.org.uk/in-your-area/northern-ireland

Ways to tackle #loneliness and volunteer as a Befriender:

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For more information about befriending, contact Victoria at Volunteer Now on 028 9023 2020 or email victoria.o’neill@volunteernow.co.uk

View a list of organisations with befriending opportunities

Visit www.volunteernow.co.uk  and use the ‘Volunteer Search’ panel on our homepage.  Select ‘Befriending’ as your activity and enter your postcode.  To apply for any, click ‘register now’ in the opportunity description.

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