From The Frontline
Many elderly folks live alone with no family or active friends living nearby.
Our main service is our Befriending initiative, Surrey Heath Age Concern have 60 Volunteer Befrienders and a further 60 volunteers supporting a variety of social activities.
Before the COVID crisis these Befriending Volunteers visited their Befriendee every week for at least an hour, this is a long term commitment and over time they become part of their family. It is a special and personal relationship that is actively supported, in the background, by Surrey Heath Age Concern.
During the Pandemic the Volunteer Visitors have been adhering to government restrictions by visiting their friends in their gardens or by telephoning and, in some case where hearing is a problem, they have been writing and sending cards to keep the contact going.
It has not been easy but every contact makes a difference.
We spend a lot of time making sure our Volunteer Befrienders are a good match to the Befriendee and each time it works and we get wonderful feedback –
“They are part of my family now.”
“Without the visits and phone calls life would be very lonely.”
It’s a great comfort for these elderly residents living alone, that they have a trusted local friend they can turn to if the need arises and that’s extra special with stresses caused by the fear of COVID and the isolation self-distancing.
In response to the extra isolation caused by the initial COVID lockdown and social distancing the older people we support received additional regular calls from the SHAC team making sure they had everything they needed and helping them adjust to the new draconian conditions of the Pandemic.
We learnt what interesting lives they have led and we got to hear about their worries and where necessary could refer them to appropriate services to bring help when the feedback was plain desperation!