Make a meaningful connection – Become a Befriender
Isolation can be detrimental to a person’s health. 2 in 5 older people in Britain are chronically lonely and studies have shown it is worse for you than obesity and can lead to diseases such as dementia and depression. Anyone of any age can be lonely, and for some, there is no choice but to be alone through a combination of circumstances. The good news is with the help of volunteers, befriending services like VCH’s Community Befrienders can make a real difference.
The Community Befrienders service helps reduce isolation, develop self-confidence and promote positive relationships in the community through the activities of our befrienders. By doing something as simple as having a conversation over a cup of tea or introducing your new friend to a local activities club, you can help maintain a meaningful connection in the community and improve isolation in Hackney.
How does it help?
Benefits for the people that volunteers visit include improved confidence, decreased loneliness, improved mental health, and increased engagement in the community as well as better physical wellbeing. Amalia became a befriender to make a positive impact in Hackney- but stayed because she ‘was extremely inspired by the benefits volunteering can have to the person receiving the service’
Why should I get involved?
Befriending can be beneficial for you too! Volunteering increases employment opportunities, people skills and emotional intelligence. “Registering and training as a Community Befriender has been a great experience and helped me enormously in finding a new direction”
Befriending can be very flexible and is a great way to connect with people in your community if you don’t have much time. For example, VCH’s Community Befrienders can volunteer weekly, monthly or fortnightly across various locations and through different activities. Our volunteers often report mutually enjoyable friendships. Amalia explained that her first visit ‘felt like a blind date’ but it didn’t take them long to find common ground and now the meetings are ‘very pleasant, very productive and very satisfying’ T says that despite their 62-year age difference, her befriendee ‘has become my friend and my second grandmother – it means a lot to both of us that we can be there for each other.’