Our NEW befriending and mentoring scheme!

norma with driverA few months ago I wrote a blog post about befriending, what people get out of it and why it is a service that is so badly needed in the borough.  Several months on there is still a pressing need for more befrienders, and the links that form between volunteers and people who were previously very isolated are the building blocks of the all-important community ties that in our experience really must continue to be emphasised in care strategies at both local and national levels in the future.

With all of this in mind I am pleased to be able to tell you all today about our own brand new befriending scheme that is being run by our colleagues over at Volunteer Centre Lewisham (VCL).  Before I launch into the detail, I think it is important to acknowledge that it is really a reflection of the dynamic and responsive voluntary sector in Lewisham that the project has been started up.  This is something that all involved should be proud of, from the commissioners at Lewisham Council who had the foresight to fund the work that we have done to the development workers and facilitators within Community Connections that have uncovered this need and worked so hard to address it, to the wonderful staff at VCL who are in charge of the befriending project to the new volunteers who have already signed up to be befrienders.  I think this project is not only an important practical step on the road to making Lewisham a better place to grow old, it also sends a strong message to everyone that the voluntary sector in Lewisham listens to service users and responds effectively. Without further ado then, here is the key information about the project:

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS BEFRIENDING AND MENTORING SCHEME

Volunteer Centre Lewisham’s Community Connections Befriending Scheme is aimed at providing 1-2-1 as well as group support to older and vulnerable adults in the Borough of Lewisham.

How we work

We recruit, train and supervise people interested in becoming volunteer befrienders and introduce befrienders and service users to each other in a friendly, informal and supportive process. The main aim of this befriending scheme is to actively promote independence and recovery.  The Befriending Co-ordinator & volunteer befrienders will work with rather than for the service user.

Who do we work with?

Anyone who is over the age of 18 and belongs to the following groups may be able to use our service:

  • Carers
  • Older people
  • Disabled people
  • Substance abusers
  • People at risk of exclusion
  • Vulnerable adults

The Befriending Co-ordinator will meet with you to do an initial assessment and will discuss what you need from us and how we can support you. This might include help to access an activity, learning a new skill, accompanying you for appointments or simply having someone to talk to.

Once we know what you need the Befriending Co-ordinator will find you a suitable volunteer and introduce you as soon as possible.

How to access the service

You can self-refer or you can be referred by your Doctor, by social services or through other agencies. Befriending Scheme Referral Form

We are recruiting

The Befriending scheme depends on volunteers and we are always looking for reliable and committed people interested in becoming volunteer befrienders to support vulnerable and older adults in the local community.  Click this link to see the volunteer role description:  Volunteer Befriender

We offer full training and support to all our volunteers and we provide out of pocket expenses as well. 

For more information please call Aparna Sapre, Community Connections Befriending Co-ordinator on 020 8613 7113 or E-mail: community1@volunteercentrelewishamorg.uk

So if you have a few hours to spare and would like to be more involved in your community, please come and join us!

Post by Henry

Could you be a befriender?

First off, I would like to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year and I hope you enjoyed your break from work, time with your family, or your time at work if you were working through the festive period. This is also a good opportunity to share with you our new flyer which is doing the rounds; please do share it with friends and colleagues:

Community_connections_flyer_PDF_HiRes

Whilst the spirit of giving may be rapidly fading from your mind as normal life resumes, I wanted to take the opportunity to throw another log on the charitable fire by highlighting one of the most significant needs we have uncovered through our work in Lewisham since November; the need for befrienders.

Befrienders are volunteers who go out and visit people in their homes for a couple of hours per week, maybe do some odd jobs round the house for them, and possibly support them to get out for a bit of fresh air or some shopping. They provide an absolutely essential service for people who are isolated in their homes because of illness or disability and can have a profound effect on that person’s quality of life. Befrienders will find they benefit themselves from the interaction with the person they are supporting who might share a skill with them, regale them with stories from their past, or offer advice drawn from a lifetime of experience.

There are a number of organisations in Lewisham who offer befriending services including Age UK Lewisham and Southwark (http://www.ageuk.org.uk/lewishamandsouthwark/), Voluntary Services Lewisham (http://www.vslonline.org.uk/) and Independent Age (http://www.independentage.org/) but they all need more volunteers to continue to meet ever increasing need.  So if you think you could be a befriender, get in touch with one of them, or contact us at: communityconnections@ageuklands.org.uk.

Alternatively, maybe you work for an organisation that is considering developing a new befriending service in Lewisham, if so please send us an email, we’d love to hear from you and offer support from our community development team.

Post by Henry