What is Engage Befriending ?
The Engage Befriending Programme matches a volunteer befriender with an older person (55+) in their local community. They meet for approximately an hour a week to engage in conversation and build a positive friendship. Pre-covid they might also have chatted over a cup of tea, gone on a short trip, done some shopping or attended an event. They currently chat on the phone and share memories and experiences.
Why is this important?
The risks of isolation and loneliness – Whilst many older people maintain socially active lives this is not possible for all. In 2017 we were involved in developing a report following Reading-wide research into Social Isolation and Loneliness. The research revealed that around 10% of all over 65s are lonely, and consequently, there are over 2000 lonely pensioners in Reading (RVA, 2017).
We know that there are a number of trigger factors associated with loneliness and isolation that the older person is more likely to experience e.g. bereavement, retirement and illness; having a listening ear and empathetic befriender can literally give a person a reason to keep going, or at least something to look forward to.
2 key areas being addressed by befriending are:
Increasing a person’s sense of wellbeing
A person’s health and wellbeing are significantly impacted by their sense of loneliness and isolation
Helping people connect with their community
Making connections with the wider community is important in helping combat the sense of isolation.