Community Connections Befriending recruits and trains volunteers to support housebound and isolated residents through weekly telephone chats and home visits. For those struggling with issues like loneliness, bereavement and mobility loss, it can make a hugely positive difference to have a friendly, listening ear make contact each week to provide some companionship and ask how they’re doing. The scheme also creates many rewarding volunteering opportunities for local adults who want to support their community, and improve their own wellbeing and confidence in the process!

melissa and marie Befriender Befriendee
Volunteer befriender Melissa and her befriendee Marrie finally getting to meet in person after 2 years of weekly phone chats

For over a year now the project has been run and built up by our Befriending Coordinator Sandra, who transitioned from Voluntary Services Lewisham to Age UK this summer. At present, 30 volunteers provide weekly befriending support to 50 individual residents (‘befriendees’), yet there remains an overall scarcity of befriending services across the borough. With much more work still to do, Sandra has been busy driving the recruitment of new volunteers, through our summer festivals stalls like at Hilly Fields Fayre and People’s Day, and more recently through outreach at places like Lewisham Shopping Centre and Bromley Volunteers Fair! Our hope is to match people on our waiting list with weekly befrienders as soon as possible, and then open the service up to new referrals.

Meanwhile we continued to support our existing pool of dedicated volunteers and learn from their experiences. During the 10th annual ‘Befriending week‘ we celebrated our volunteers achievements with a coffee morning at Stanstead lodge Community Centre (pictured left), hearing about what befriending means to them through creative bunting! We also presented our ‘Outstanding Volunteer Award’ to Patrick (2nd from right), who has given phone befriending support for the past 5 years and currently makes weekly calls to 9 different individuals!

Want to volunteer as a befriender?

Along with making a real difference to a lonely or isolated person’s life, some of the many other benefits of volunteering include gaining confidence, building new skills, making friends in the community, and accessing free training opportunities led by Age UK and its partner organisations!

If you have the time, passion and commitment to support a lonely or isolated person then we’d love to hear from you! Please visit our Volunteer Page to read more or go straight to our Online Application Form. You can also get in touch with any questions by emailing by contacting our Befriending Coordinator Sandra – Tel: 07934 554 601 / Email: befriending@ageuklands.org.uk.