To anyone without experience of being a carer, it may sound odd that it can be quite a lonely role. Of course, you have the company of the person you are caring for and this is possibly one of your closest relationships but do you have somebody to listen to you? It can be very isolating having to deal with the demanding needs of a loved one with nobody to talk to about your role and there is often little opportunity to just have a chat with somebody else.
1st to 7th November is Befriending Week which is a time to celebrate and raise awareness of all things to do with Befriending.
Having someone to talk to became even more important during the 2020/21 Lockdowns when it wasn’t possible to get out and chat to people in everyday activities as you would normally.
What is befriending?
Befriending offers supportive and reliable contact to people who might otherwise be socially isolated. It is a role undertaken by volunteers and there are a variety of befriending networks throughout the UK.
· Befriending is something as simple as a short call to someone
· Befriending is something we can all do, and it does not take up much time
· Befriending is reducing isolation
· Befriending is reducing loneliness
· Befriending is making a difference to others
· Befriending is looking out for others in your community
As part of our response to the Pandemic, Carers Support West Sussex set up its Check in and Chat befriending service with funding from Carers Trust. The service continues to offer Carers in West Sussex some support to help them feel less lonely and on their own and more socially connected as a Carers UK national survey of 6000 Carers reported many have been left exhausted, socially isolated and close to burnout.
One Carer who sadly lost her husband early this year has received befriending support and continues to do so. She says:
“Talking to the volunteers at Carers Support has really helped me to cope with the loss of my husband and encouraged me to make a conscious effort to get out and enjoy life again. They feel like an extended family and we have a lot of laughs”.
Volunteering as a Check in and Chat Telephone Befriender
Our volunteers make regular calls for up to 1 hour either weekly, fortnightly or monthly. They give their time to chat to a Carer who might not otherwise have any conversations with anyone else or they are around the cared for and not them. It can help the Carer to think about their own health and wellbeing and have a bit of “me” time.
Our volunteers also get benefits from making the calls and enjoy the calls as well as one of our befriending volunteers said:
“For me, befriending is a lovely way to connect with people who have different life experiences. I learn so much, but also feel I am providing comfort and company during difficult times.”
You can find more Befriending services here and there are also opportunities to learn about volunteering as a Befriender. Befriending Networks UK
If you would like to find out more about volunteering as a Befriender for Carers Support West Sussex please click here Connecting Carers Service