Fighting loneliness and changing lives
In 2014, Turn2us launched a befriending service to address feelings of social isolation, loneliness and depression amongst some of our grant recipients.
Our staff and long-standing volunteers know that people struggling with money are often also dealing with challenging personal circumstances. We wanted to provide emotional support to complement the financial assistance provided to our grant recipients.
The main role of a Befriender is to provide a trusted listening ear and companionship for one of our grant recipients, helping to reduce loneliness and isolation. Befrienders visit the homes of a grant recipient – or have a telephone conversation – twice a month to build an honest and mutual relationship.
This year, our Volunteer Befriending Programme has gathered real momentum and we expect to see it grow as we match more volunteer Befrienders with our grant recipients - or Befriendees as we like to call them.
Orla started volunteering as a London Befriender in October 2017. She applied for the role as she felt that it would complement her studies well. She is in her first year of a Therapeutic Counselling degree at the University of Greenwich.
Orla was attracted to this volunteer role at Turn2us as she was aware of the wider work we do through our volunteering programme as part of Greenwich’s university placement scheme. The training she received equipped her with the right skills and support to start befriending: “The training was very thorough and I felt like I was in good hands for the placement.”
“I really enjoy connecting with new people and seeing that I am making a difference to a person's life. A lot of the people we work with are socially isolated and seeing someone new can make a huge difference to their quality of life.
“As time has gone on, my Befriendee has shared more with me and we have grown to trust each other more. It’s been satisfying and rewarding to get to this point.”
For those interested in becoming a Befriender, Orla recommends that “you just get stuck in. It can be nerve-wracking at first but support is on hand for any difficulties you come up against - and after a few sessions you will find a flow with your Befriendee.”
Orla’s generosity and commitment means people with the quietest voice in our society are able to receive care and companionship to really help them get back on their feet. Befriending is proving to have an immensely positive impact on people’s lives. A Befriender is often the only face our grant recipients will see for a month and that makes all the difference. Orla and our Befrienders are true unsung heroes making our society a better place.