Meet Tom – Our Community Befrienders Coordinator
I’m Tom, the Community Befrienders Coordinator. I’ve been in the role since April 2022, and have previously worked as a teacher, teacher trainer, and school manager, as well as a stint in TV production.
A bit about me: I’ve lived in the Netherlands and Poland as well as a few places in the UK. I play bass and other instruments in a psychedelic punk group, which I also help to record, and make music on my own (and make my own music gear)! I am obsessed with microphones, capybaras, and peanut butter.
I first started working at Volunteer Centre Hackney (VCH) as a Volunteer Manager for COVID vaccination centres VCH organised. I’d really enjoyed helping people in the vaccine centres, and wanted to keep on contributing, so I applied to work on VCH’s befriending team.
VCH’s Community Befriending service is really unique in Hackney. We can help all adults of any gender, ethnicity, and age to make new connections in their community, reducing isolation and loneliness. We also offer phone, face-to-face, and home visit Befriending, and get to support people with interesting stories and unique challenges.
In 2022, Community Befrienders provided over 6,500 hours of free one-to-one support for vulnerable isolated residents. Every hour given by volunteers has changed lives for the better.
It’s been fantastic working here. I’ve met so many interesting Service Users, volunteers, and colleagues, and seeing the difference we make to the lives of everyone involved. I love hearing what the volunteers have been getting up to with their Service Users – from trips out, to cooking, to dancing round the kitchen! And it’s amazing to hear from the people we support how much of a positive impact the service has on them.
Why volunteer with us? As a volunteer, you can meet people with different life experiences, and find some unexpected things in common! It’s amazing what you learn from Service Users – they all have something unique to offer, and finding out what that is can be a fascinating journey. Hopefully, you will make a friend for life!
We always need more people to help – even if you only have half an hour a week. Can you help us and chat to someone who is isolated in Hackney?