Our Befriending service offers short term support to adults in Buckinghamshire who are lonely or isolated as a result of mental ill-health.
Our Befriending Coordinators recruit and train volunteers who then form ‘partnerships’ with people from the local community. These can be for up to 6 months and can focus on a specific activity or on learning a particular skill or be purely for regular social contact.
Peter (not his real name) is a retired Head Teacher in his early 70s who was a successful and popular academic but now lives with multiple physical health problems and pain, which affect his daily life and his mental health. He gave feedback on his Befriending partnership:
“My Befriender is amazing. He remembers the story and puts it in context, which I can’t always do myself. He is stoical and grounded, knows when to speak and when to provoke. I sometimes need an alternative voice and he challenges me. It’s better than a friendship, it’s the stable feature of the week. He has enormous skills and quietly gets it and me. He values me, reflects back to me and helps me understand.
“I always look forward to Thursdays and seeing my Befriender. He ‘sweeps the yard for me.’ By that I mean he lets me talk and let it all out, he just listens and with a few words helps me see if I‘m being reasonable, reminds me of the positives but doesn’t push it.
“With regard to the ending of the partnership; it’s like if I’d had a broken leg I would’ve needed a crutch for a bit but not forever and now I feel like I don’t need my Befriender quite so much. He has helped me to build strategies and I feel that the structure of my life is beginning to work again. I have found ‘work arounds’ to help me manage tasks like shopping. I can hold my ground again and see I have choices. I feel less of a victim of happenstance, where before I felt everyone was against me. I feel more in control, I can manage the knockbacks better and have started to believe in myself again.”
Do you think you would benefit from having a Befriender? Or can you see yourself making a difference by volunteering as a Befriender? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please click on the buttons below to find out more.