One of the most popular volunteering opportunities is befriending, but despite its popularity, there is still a significant need for new befrienders. Not everyone is aware of what befriending is and what befrienders do, so we talked to some Bay Volunteers befrienders to find out more.
“In a way I became a befriender by default”, chuckles Lisa, who found her befriending role after her new employer explained how all staff got 28 hours per year to dedicate to volunteering. “I realised that there are people in my local area who are just in need of a bit of company, a bit of a chat, and thought what a lovely way to use my volunteering hours.”
Catherine is another volunteer who also works and she was drawn, in part, by the flexible nature of befriending. “I do work full-time and because of that the majority of the tasks that I do are centred around phone calls,” she explains. “It was a little bit daunting when I first picked up the phone, because this person had no idea who I was and vice versa, but it’s quite surprising how quickly you get into the ease of it.”
It can be a challenge to call someone you don’t know – what on earth will you talk about? It doesn’t need to be long conversations, it can be as little as a few minutes at a time, as Carol, who has been volunteering as a befriender since April 2020, explains “at the beginning is was very much about just being on the other end of the phone – having someone at the other end of the phone who can give a bit of confidence.”
Saying hello, how are you? can make a powerful difference to someone’s life.
Carol loves knowing that her calls and visits are making a difference and befriending is one of those roles where what you do has an almost immediate and measurable positive impact on someone else, because you can hear it in someone’s voice and see it in how they live.
“It’s really important because there are a lot of people out there who have very little contact with other people,” says Carol. “Things are just difficult for people, and having someone who is able to be there now and again and talk to on the phone gives that person a sense of belonging, friendship, and community that might have been lacking.”
Lisa, Catherine, and Carol had much more to say and you will be able to see the videos of these conversations soon on the Lancaster District CVS website, our Facebook and Twitter, as well as Bay Volunteers’ social media channels.
We hope that their stories will encourage others, perhaps you reading this now, to consider becoming a befriender and feeling that same sense of achievement that they feel. There are befriending roles with various organisations across the district. Look out for the upcoming videos for more information.