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Loneliness is something that can affect any one of us at any point in our lives. Research has found that almost one-fifth of the UK population say that they are often, or always, lonely. Loneliness Awareness Week (15-19 June) aims to raise awareness of loneliness and encourage people to speak about it openly.
This Loneliness Awareness Week, we caught up with Carole, 77-years-old from Littlehampton, who told us how St Barnabas House has helped her combat loneliness throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with their Community Companion service – a special group of befriending volunteers who support some of the most isolated patients that the hospice cares for.
Carole was referred to St Barnabas House over three years ago and has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), making her extremely vulnerable to Covid-19. “For the last 18 months I’ve been shielding at home, I’ve only been away from my house about a dozen times,” says Carole.
“It’s been a long haul, but I’m lucky to have had support from my two wonderful daughters, my carers, and my St Barnabas House Community Companion, Anne-Marie.”
Throughout the pandemic, Carole has received weekly phone calls from Anne-Marie, where she has had the opportunity to talk to someone about topics that she would not usually talk to her family about.
Before the pandemic, Anne-Marie would make regular visits to Carole’s home, for a chat, a cup of coffee, or a trip to the shops. “I can’t wait until the visits from Anne-Marie start again, we’ve already decided that our first Community Companion outing will be to Haskins for a cup of tea and a cake. We like their restaurant and I’m looking forward to a slice of their cherry pie.
“I can’t wait to get out and about again. I’ve also recently bought a new electric wheelchair, so I think Anne-Marie will be pleased she doesn’t have to push me around anywhere anymore!”
Since the Community Companions service launched in 2012, over 820 people like Carole have been matched with specially trained volunteers who offer befriending support. Although these home visits have had to stop for now due to the pandemic, the team has been determined to ensure the befriending service continues and since the start of the pandemic, they have made over 2,000 telephone calls to patients.