Here at Age Lambeth one of the ways we try to beat loneliness in later life is through our Befriending Service, where a volunteer visits an older person once a week in their own home.
Our Befriending Service is for older people who may feel socially isolated and lonely. Our target client group is the 40% of Lambeth residents aged over 55 who live alone, although some of our clients do live with family. Research suggests loneliness can be as harmful to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Befriending provides a person with a valuable link to the outside world and often acts as a gateway to further support and social activity. We match each client with a suitable volunteer who lists them for one to three hours a week for some company.
What does a befriender do?
A befriender visits you on a regular basis at mutually convenient times, once a week at most although it can be less frequently if that suits you both. The visits are usually in the clients home, but some of our volunteers meet their clients in a cafe or go for a walk. Some reminisce over old photographs, play cards or board games, or just sit and talk about their lives. Your befriender can be a great link to the outside world and help you access other services, but they themselves cannot help with personal care or offer counselling - they are just there to socialise.
Why choose befriending?
Befriending can make the difference between just managing and living. The service is flexible and can be used to complement other services such as day services or home care services. Befriending can offer relief to family carers and peace of mind to family living away.
The benefits of befriending
- People experiencing loneliness and isolation develop personal friendships and positive relationships
- People are able to share worries and concerns and reduce mental distress and anxiety
- People have fun, social interaction enabling them to maintain social skills and reduce demands on family carers
- Isolated and vulnerable people receive regular support and potential risks and additional needs can be picked up on at an early point
- Extra support for carers and peace of mind for family members
What areas do we cover?
We cover the entire Lambeth borough. We cannot cover anyone living outside the borough but we will do our best to signpost you to a local scheme if you are outside our catchment area.
Who can refer to this service?
Anyone can – carers, doctors, neighbours, home helps, family etc. As long as the person referred knows and agrees to your referral.