The Engage Befriending Programme matches a volunteer befriender with an older person (55+) in their local community. They meet for approximately an hour a week to engage in conversation and build a positive friendship. Pre-covid they might also have chatted over a cup of tea, gone on a short trip, done some shopping or attended an event. They currently chat on the phone and share memories and experiences.
Why is this important?
The risks of isolation and loneliness – Whilst many older people maintain socially active lives this is not possible for all. In 2017 we were involved in developing a report following Reading-wide research into Social Isolation and Loneliness. The research revealed that around 10% of all over 65s are lonely, and consequently, there are over 2000 lonely pensioners in Reading (RVA, 2017).
We know that there are a number of trigger factors associated with loneliness and isolation that the older person is more likely to experience e.g. bereavement, retirement and illness; having a listening ear and empathetic befriender can literally give a person a reason to keep going, or at least something to look forward to.
2 key areas being addressed by befriending are: