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This week is Befriending Week (1-7 November) and we’re joining hundreds of befriending organisations across the country to celebrate the staff and volunteers whose kindness and dedication play a crucial role in helping to combat loneliness.
These include our St Barnabas House ‘Community Companions’, a special group of befriending volunteers who bring sunshine into the homes of our most isolated patients, and whose support has never been more important.
Since the Community Companions service launched in 2012, over 790 people living with terminal conditions have been matched with specially-trained volunteers who offer befriending support. Before the Covid-19 outbreak, volunteers would make regular visits to these patients’ homes, for a chat or sometimes go out for a coffee or a trip to the shops. To have someone who can visit each week and lend a listening ear makes a big difference.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has meant that these home visits have had to stop for now. However, the team have been determined to ensure the befriending service continues and since the start of the pandemic they have made over 1,100 telephone calls to patients. For some of these patients who have a limited network of family and friends, it’s been an extremely difficult time so these phone calls can be a lifeline. One patient told us recently, “It’s been great to have someone ring to keep in touch. I live by myself so it’s nice to have someone to talk to on a regular basis.”
You’ll be able to find more quotes, stories and photos of our Community Companion volunteers and patients on the St Barnabas House social media pages throughout Befriending Week (1 – 7 November).
To find out more about Community Companions visit: www.stbh.org.uk/community-companions