More volunteer befrienders to support isolated and lonely older people are currently needed right across Bath and North East Somerset.
There are currently around 40 people waiting for a befriender, says local charity Age UK B&NES.
In an effort to tackle the waiting list, the charity is organising a drop-in afternoon at St Michael’s Day Centre in Bath on Wednesday 26th February.
It will look at how befriending makes a real difference to the lives of older people, and at how volunteers can get involved.
It will be an informal session, and people are invited to pop in any time between 2.30pm and 5.30pm for a chat with Ceri Sanders or Chris Hart, who work for Age UK B&NES.
Volunteer befrienders provide companionship, social contact and support to older people. It might just be offering up some time to chat over a cup of tea, visiting the shops together or going to a café.
Sue Davison from Paulton is a befriender to a local lady called Vera and thoroughly enjoys their time together.
“I got involved as a befriender after my two daughters left home for university, and I had some time on my hands,” she said.
“I enjoy helping people and like to think of myself as a caring, considerate person and it’s nice to do something constructive with my spare time.
“When I take Vera out she really brightens up, even if we are just going to Tesco. If she’s having a bad day we just sit and have a chat, but I feel she loves to have some time out of the house.”
Sue continued: “If I didn’t see Vera, she may not go out all week. Sometimes her daughter comes with us too, as she does not drive so we all have a nice trip out together.
“I spend about half a day each week with Vera, but she knows that if she has a serious problem I will do my best to help. We have become good friends, and if I didn’t have a mum of my own I would adopt her!”
Vera said that Sue’s visits make a huge difference to her life. “Loneliness is a killer, having Sue is a lifeline. I didn’t go out before. I didn’t go anywhere. I am not well enough to go out by myself and you need contact with people its a blessing having these people.”
Befrienders are currently needed in: Peasedown St John; Keynsham; Saltford; Midsomer Norton; Radstock; Timsbury; Combe Down; Foxhill; Widcombe; Twerton; Weston; Larkhall; Bathampton; Batheaston and Bathford.
“Most befrienders offer up to an hour or so a week – but just an hour can make a huge difference to a lonely person,” said Janet Dabbs, Age UK B&NES’ chief executive. “We provide full training and support to the volunteers, and they would never be called upon to do any nursing work – it is simply about offering friendship.”
If you’re interested in in finding out more, call in to the drop-in afternoon or call Age UK B&NES’ befriending co-ordinator, Ceri Sanders, on 01225 462641 for an initial chat.