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Befriending Week 1–7 Nov: Caring Communities Safe and Well Project

01 November 2017

Volunteer Befriending Week aims to raise awareness of the issue of loneliness and promote the great work of Volunteer Befrienders in reducing social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation and loneliness impacts on an individuals’ quality of life and adversely affects their health and wellbeing. Older people are particularly vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness owing to a loss of friends, family, mobility and income.

The Caring Communities Safe & Well service supports people over 65 to reduce social isolation and loneliness by providing information, referral, signposting, access to services and volunteer befriending. The service encourages and empowers older people to engage with their local community.

Andrea (a volunteer befriender) has been visiting Eilish for almost a year. Andrea works in a Health Centre and although she mainly works with children she noticed that when older people came in they wanted to see a friendly face and to have a chat, she has always wanted to be a befriender. Andrea says ‘so when the opportunity came up with Caring Communities I knew it was what I wanted to do. For me, I am so busy at home with children and work I enjoy taking some time out to focus on someone else, it’s relaxing to come and spend time with Eilish.’  Andrea also commented that there is good mentoring support from the Caring Communities Service with someone to speak with if you are worried.

Andrea visits Eilish once a week for around an hour, they usually go for a walk with the dog, have a chat and a cup of tea. Eilish says ‘I could take her visiting every day of the week, she’s very understanding, it seems like she has always been here and she is absolutely fabulous. I look forward to her coming every Monday’  Eilish feels before Andrea started to visit she was ‘a different person going down the wrong path’ and Andrea has enable her ‘to start to live again’            

Andrea commented ‘I always thought I would get close to the person I was visiting but I wasn’t expecting it to become a friendship that is part of my life …… you get much more out of it than you think.’

The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust, Caring Communities Safe & Well Service wishes to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all their Volunteer Befrienders for their time commitment and dedication ‘you really make such a difference’ to an older person’s life.

If you feel you have some time to make a difference to an older person’s life please contact Communities Safe & Well service on: 028 9756 6934 or safeandwell@setrust.hscni.net

For more information about Befriending Week 2017 visit their facebook page

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