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Article published on: Monday, 04 December 2023

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.

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