Every year, Befriending Week is celebrated from 1-7 November. This is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about the positive impact befriending makes in communities and in people’s lives and invite your befriendees, befrienders, staff-members, organisation and community to celebrate befriending. It is also a time to share with the wider public what befriending is, who it is for, how to get involved and the ways in which your organisation is tackling loneliness and social isolation through befriending.
Our Befriending Scheme has been running across Bracknell Forest for nearly 10 years, and over this time we have helped nearly 800 vulnerable, isolated elderly people to find company and friendship from their volunteer befrienders. A study we conducted in 2018 showed us that 95% of both clients and volunteers agreed that befriending has had a positive impact on their health and wellbeing. We also found that nearly one third of our clients felt that they were less likely to need to visit their GP or use NHS service as a result of befriending, which we estimate to be saving the NHS around £20,000 every year.
Our befriending scheme often allows clients to receive help with chores and shopping, get out and about into their communities more and attend events and get togethers such as our befriending Christmas parties or weekly activity cafés. This gives them the opportunity to meet new people who are or have been in similar situations to them, meaning they can make new friends and ultimately improve their overall health and wellbeing even further.
We’re always receiving positive feedback from users of our scheme, and it’s great to know that there are so many similar schemes across the UK working together to help #EndLoneliness. Please use this Befriending Week to help highlight the great work of befriending schemes across the country and show your appreciation for befrienders everywhere.