“Exceptional” benefit of befriending

Ena and Jill are pictured during one of Jill's weekly visits.
Ena and Jill are pictured during one of Jill's weekly visits.

Just over a year ago two people were introduced to each other as part of Voluntary Action Angus’ ‘Care About Kirrie’ project and it was the start of a very special relationship.

Jill Smith is a volunteer befriender who regular gives her time to visit Ena (89) at her home in Kirriemuir where they have a cup of tea and a chat. Both women lived in Edinburgh for a time and have found plenty to talk about over the past year.

The project was piloted in the Forfar and Kirriemuir areas and has now expanded throughout Angus.

Lesley Simpson, VAA’s senior development worker, said: “Volunteers like Jill can make an exceptional difference to the lives of people through befriending. An hour or two a week can have an enormous benefit on a person’s health and well being, helping reduce isolation and the effects of loneliness.

“All volunteers undergo induction training, PVG and reference checks and receive ongoing support from the organisation. Befriending is very flexible with opportunities for people to give as much or as little time as they wish. We should never underestimate the difference having someone there just for you can make. It can really help people keep connected with their community.”

Ena says she looks forward to Jill’s visits saying how she benefits from the company as, with the exception of a weekly visit to a day centre, she does not get out.

Since the arrival of her youngest child, if it’s not possible to visit, Jill still chats with Ena by phone. Voluntary Action Angus is keen to develop this and has recently recruited volunteer telebefrienders.

Lesley added: “This is an exciting development for the project and highlights the crucial role the Third Sector has to play in achieving the outcomes of the Health and Social Care Agenda.”

Information about the Care About befriending service is available from Lesley at Voluntary Action Angus on 01037 466113 or by e-mailing lesley@voluntaryactionangus.org.uk