Befriending Services – a lifeline for the lonely
It is a sad irony that as our population grows, so many people feel so desperately alone. A recent survey found that more than a third of people in the UK over the age of 44 are lonely, and almost half of them have felt that way for more than six years.
Loneliness looks like the customer that visits the supermarket every single day to buy one item at a time, just to give them a purpose for the day and the guarantee of being around people. It can affect everyone, but older people are particularly and increasingly vulnerable after bereavement, or when suffering from reduced mobility or limited income.
The Royal Voluntary Service has published a series of reports that highlight the growing phenomenon of loneliness among older people and its associated health risks. For many, feeling lonely in old age is their biggest problem. Loneliness has a much wider public health impact too, as it is associated with a number of negative health outcomes including mortality, morbidity, depression and suicide as well as limited health service use.
A new befriending service
Home to Home Calls has been set up as a social enterprise, providing a daily befriending phone call service specifically for the elderly and vulnerable. The calls are used solely to check the welfare and wellbeing of users and provide the daily chit-chat that many of them enjoy and desperately need. Talking and listening. It is a simple formula, but this is often a lifeline and provides peace of mind for users’ families when they cannot be there themselves.
Home to Home Calls aims to support people to live as independently as possible, with dignity and respect. They encourage people to help themselves and to take increasing responsibility for staying active and healthy, for as long as possible, by promoting the awareness of a wide range of preventative services and community resources.
The evidence is that users feel less isolated, have a greater sense of belonging and an increased willingness to get involved in community activities. The positive impact of this relatively small intervention can be seen in both physical and mental health improvements.
“They provide a lifeline for me. I used to just stay in bed most days but now I get up and dressed. I take more interest in daily life.”
“My Befriender has helped me feel part of everyday life in a community again.”
Home to Home Calls recognises that befriending is not a cure for loneliness, but firmly believe it can be a crucial step in preventing it. They aim to be part of a cultural shift across society, which links different agencies and individuals and makes a positive impact on the lives of our most vulnerable people, before they reach crisis point. Find out more by visiting www.hometohomecalls.com
Have you found a solution for loneliness? Or are you worried about someone and don’t know how to help? Go to our forum and find the help you need.