Visiting and Befriending Service
Surrey Heath has a rising number of older residents. Poor health and reduced mobility make it difficult for many older people to get out. As a result they often become lonely and are at risk of becoming isolated and housebound. They may also feel vulnerable and have increasing difficulty in coping with the complications of modern life.
The aim of the Visiting & Befriending Service is to help older people maintain their independence by introducing them to one of our visitors who visits regularly, providing mutual friendship and companionship.
The service is essentially that of matching up suitable volunteer ‘befrienders’ with elderly people (over 60 years of age) who do not receive many visitors and/or who are unable to get out of the house very often.
The service provides the older people with the opportunity to discuss day-to-day worries and concerns. The visitor is able to provide reassurance, advice and help to deal with official correspondence or find out about other relevant local services. Some visitors can help with errands such as collecting prescriptions.
Our volunteer visitors include men and woman of all ages and from all walks of life. They are carefully selected and screened, including a full Disclosure and Barring Service check. Once trained, volunteers are matched with older people who have similar interests and backgrounds. Following a trial period of approximately one month, feedback is sought from both parties to establish whether the relationship is working well. Providing this is so, the same visitor will continue to visit each week allowing a trusting relationship to be built.
Feedback from our volunteers shows that they too gain from the experience of brightening the day for lonely people.
Volunteer visitors receive support, guidance and further training from SHAC throughout the year.
Referrals and Eligibility Criteria
Most referrals originate from local GP surgeries, Health Visitors, Social Care Teams, family and friends. Some are identified through contact with the SHAC office or by self referral.
The service is open to persons over sixty years of age residing in the Borough of Surrey Heath.
It should be noted that people with severe mental health problems, dementia, or drug and alcohol dependency require support from agencies specialising in these fields and that SHAC will NOT be able to provide this. In these cases referral to another appropriate organisation is recommended.
Comments from Users of this Service
“I really look forward to my weekly visit from my befriender”
“My visitor helped me to understand a letter which had been worrying me”
“These visits have made such a difference to my week”
“Thank you for providing a visitor for my father. I live a long distance from him and it is reassuring to know that he has someone to talk with each week”
“My young visitor plays bridge with me which I haven’t been able to do for a long time so thank you for putting me in touch”
Benefits of the Service
Elderly residents feel less lonely, vulnerable and isolated and are able to cope better with living alone in their own homes.
If you would like to make a difference to an older person’s day and would like to join SHAC as a volunteer visitor please visit our contact page to get in touch.