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New befriending service seeks more volunteers

Take time out to make a difference to someone's life

Jane Meredith

Reporter:

Jane Meredith

Contact:

01635 886637

New befriending service seeks more volunteers

COULD you lend some time to make a difference to someone’s life?

Volunteer Centre West Berkshire’s befriending service is on the lookout for more volunteers.

Based at the centre in Northbrook Street, Newbury, Befriend West Berkshire is staffed by volunteers who give up their time to visit lonely and socially isolated people aged over 50 in their own home.

Project co-ordinator Simone Foster said the voluntary service, which started in April 2016, had proved much-needed, with lots of referrals from social service workers and carers.

More volunteers are needed to befriend those who are lonely owing to circumstances such as the death of a close family member, illness which has taken them away from the workplace or family who have moved away.

“The befriender can be the only person they see and they have no-one else to talk to,” said Mrs Foster.

“They can also share an event or experience, such as shopping, or a television programme.”

Examples of those the befriending service has helped include an 84-year-old called Mary, of Newbury, who had enjoyed an active life until a stroke, in October 2015, which changed her life completely.

Her four daughters had moved away and visited when they could, but Mary felt she no longer wanted to go out if she could not enjoy her leisure activities.

After contacting the befriending service, Mary was introduced to Sue.

The pair have a shared love of walking and the cinema and get on well, with Sue calling in to see her once a week.

“Twice she said she felt much better as a result of my visit,” said Sue.

Mrs Foster said befriending created more community involvement and provided respite for carers and families.

The service currently has 48 volunteers, who have undergone  DBS (police/criminal record) checks.

Volunteers also need to provide two written references and will be given a day’s induction training.

“There is no obligation – it could be just a cup of tea and a chat once a week or progress to, for example, a trip to a garden centre,” said Mrs Foster. “It’s joyful when you match people and it really works.”

Befriend West Berkshire is based at 1 Bolton Place, Northbrook Street, RG14 IAJ, (to the right of Temptation giftshop), telephone (01635) 49004 or email befriend@vcwb.org.uk

For more information visit www.volunteerwestberks.org.uk

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