The Neston Angels Befriending project has been supporting isolated older people across the CH64 area since 2014, and during Befriending Week it’s celebrating the tremendous impact befrienders have had on individuals and communities, especially through the last 18 months. As one grateful son said to his dad’s befriender: “Thank you for the friendship and kindness you showed my dad throughout his later years. You were a ray of sunshine to him.”
Befrienders are trained volunteers who visit one or two local older people at home on a regular basis to provide companionship and support. Some of Neston Angels befrienders have been volunteering for more than six years, and collectively they have supported more than 400 people to feel less lonely and more connected to their community. Neston Angels befrienders come from all walks of life and are all ages. Some Neston Angels volunteers are older than the people they support!
The Covid pandemic presented many challenges for befriending. Neston Angels befrienders had to switch to supporting people by phone from home, especially hard for people with hearing difficulties. It was a very difficult time and they and they have all been so glad to be able to resume home visits more recently.
A raft of new volunteers took on specific befriending duties during the first Covid lockdown, shopping weekly for those who were shielding and had no one else to help. 78 shopping befrienders did shopping and deliveries to more than a hundred people to a value of more than £14,000. Working in partnership with Ellesmere Port and Neston Community Transport, Local Pharmacies and the Neston and Willaston Primary Care Network, we supported 792 people in total to access shopping, medicines and other practical support.
In the last year alone, Neston Angels has connected 45 people together in befriending matches and befrienders have made a staggering 2000+ individual visits or calls. The statistics are eyewatering, but it’s sometimes the individual stories that reveal the most.
The fact is, befrienders are not only a source of connection and community, sometimes they are lifesavers, spotting warning signs no one else does. One family member who was alerted to his mother’s failing memory emailed us recently to say, “ I am eternally grateful for your phone call as I am now convinced if you hadn't raised your concerns I would be making other arrangements by now!’
If you would like more information on becoming a befriender, or know someone who would benefit from a regular visit, get in touch.