Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington

Befriending

Companionship for lonely and isolated older people who just need somebody to talk to

  • Aims to reduce social isolation and provide companionship
  • A completely free, funded service
  • Befrienders can visit your home, or you can talk on the telephone if you prefer
  • A driver service is also available for appointments and shopping

About the Befriending Service

We all know what it's like to feel lonely, but did you know that some older people regularly go an entire month without speaking to anyone?

Loneliness is a growing issue for older people.  Over half of people aged 75 and over live alone, and 1 in 10 people aged 65 or over say they are always or often feel lonely.

That’s just over a million people in the UK. To help tackle the problem of loneliness among older people, we developed our ‘Rely on Me’ befriending service. The service works by assigning each older person a befriender, who provides friendly conversation and companionship on a regular basis.

Befriending Visits
Attending Lunch Clubs
Enjoying Activities

How do Befrienders Help?

Our trained volunteer befrienders support their befriendees in a variety of ways such as home visits, telephone befriending, bringing them to activities at Bradbury House, taking them to medical appointments, helping with shopping and much more. 

Many older people struggle to carry out the tasks we take for granted such as going shopping or attending doctors appointments. Our Befriending service can offer older and vulnerable people a helping hand to carry out the everyday tasks they find challenging. 

What types of Befrienders are there?

  • Home Visits - Visiting lonely older people in their homes.
  • Telephone Befriending - Making regular calls to lonely and vulnerable older people.
  • Extra Support - Driving, trips to the supermarket or helping out with gardening.
  • Dementia Befriending - We can offer training which enables you to support an older person who has early stage dementia.
Did you know?

Last year, over 100 of our Befrienders supported more than 200 Befriendees (2016/17)

Befriending Case Studies

Constance & Carolynn

Constance, who has mobility problems due to arthritis, and also cares for her husband who is living with dementia, was referred to the befriending
service by her GP. The couple have no family and very few friends. The GP described Constance as fearfully lonely and now getting quite depressed, she thought a befriender could offer a respite break.

During the assessment visit Constance explained her husband had been in hospital for a few weeks and was currently in a care home for respite but she would welcome a befriender for herself. It was clear that she was dealing with a very difficult and upsetting situation with no support so was a priority to be matched with a befriender.

Constance was matched with befriender Carolynn. They got on really well during the first visit, in fact Constance had lived in the village where Carolynn currently lives so they had lots to talk about. At the end of the first visit Constance gave us a hug and said we had made her day.

Carolynn visits on a weekly basis, she takes Constance to visit her husband in the care home, helps her with shopping and has generally been someone she can talk to as Carolynn also rings for a chat and to check she is well between visits.

Dorothy & Ian

Dorothy was referred to the befriending service by the Fire Service who had been to conduct a Safe and Wellbeing Assessment, and realised that Dorothy was quite lonely. Dorothy has twin daughters but they both work and live in Scotland so she doesn’t see much of them. Her eyesight has also deteriorated rapidly leaving her with quite limited vision.

Ian was introduced to Dorothy and they hit it off straight away. Ian takes Dorothy shopping and then they enjoy a coffee and cake in the café. He helps her with small jobs around the house that she can’t see to do such as replacing batteries and reading mail.

Ian has also arranged for Dorothy to receive the Talking Newspaper and took her to register at the library for talking books and music CDs. More recently they have enjoyed a visit to Hardwick Park in Sedgefield.

Joyce & Glenys

Joyce was referred to Age UK Darlington via the Multi-Disciplinary Team. Joyce is 73 and has multiple health problems. She lives with her husband Bob who
takes on all of her caring responsibilities.

During the assessment visit it was identified that what was worrying Bob most was getting out to do the weekly grocery shopping. He constantly worries
about Joyce being left alone and rushes to do the shopping which was affecting his own health.

Joyce was matched with an Age UK Darlington befriendee, Glenys, who it turns out was an old friend of the family. Glenys now visits every Thursday morning to sit with Jean while Bob goes to do the shopping.

Joyce benefits from the company and someone different to talk to and Bob is also benefitting now that he can take his time with the shopping and even stop for a coffee knowing Joyce is safe.

Brian & John

Brian, who is 80 and living with Dementia, was referred to the befriending scheme to offer respite for his wife.

Brian was introduced to Age UK Darlington befriender John in September 2014. John was unsure at first as when he signed up to volunteer he presumed the befriending scheme was for people who are on their own. However after meeting Brian and his wife John realised that there is as much need for the befriending
services in offering respite.

John and Brian get on really well as they have a lot of things in common. They meet every Friday afternoon and enjoy a varied range of trips and activities including visits to railway museums, the library and have even been known to call and have an odd pint or two. Brian really enjoys these sessions and his wife benefits from some time to herself.

Befriending Testimonials

"My befriender supported me"

I couldn’t have managed the last few weeks without my befriender. It is only a few hours but it has given me something to look forward to from one week to the next.

Jean

"Befriending gives me a purpose"

Since becoming a volunteer befriender, I feel like I have a reason to get up in the morning again. I've recently found employment with a local charity, but I'll still visit Anne every day.

Keith

"A worthwhile experience"

It's so worthwhile being a befriender. We've developed a firm friendship, and Age UK Darlington have provided ongoing training allowing me to meet new people.

Tony

Befriending Location & Contacts

This service operates from:

Bradbury House

Age UK Darlington,
Bradbury House,
Beaumont Street West,
Darlington
DL1 5SX

01325 362832

Monday to Friday: 8:30AM - 4PM
Saturdays: 10AM - 2PM
Sundays: 12PM - 2.30PM

Befriending Contact Details:

Sharon Vasey
Befriending Project Coordinator

Make an enquiry

Befriending Documents

Befriending Leaflet

File-type: pdf | File-size: 5,040 kB

This handy leaflet provides an overview of the befriending service and roles you can get involved in.

Download 'Befriending Leaflet'
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Age UK Darlington is a registered charity (Registered Charity No. 1128377) registered in England and Wales as a Limited Company no. 6817492). Registered address: Bradbury House, Beaumont Street West, Darlington, County Durham, DL1 5SX.

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