30 days friendship image

‘An old fashioned Cowboy and a Hi-tech Astronaut’

‘An old fashioned Cowboy and a Hi-tech Astronaut’

‘A bunch of misfits on a hunt for treasure, fighting a family of gangsters on an underground pirate ship’

‘ A group of 20-somethings regularly meeting in a coffee shop to discuss the ups and downs of their lives’

From Toy Story, to The Goonies, to a show literally titled ‘Friends’, the importance of friendship is a common theme in popular culture. The importance of having an individual, or a group of people who support you through the bad times, celebrate the good times and generally know you inside out. Friendship really is one of life’s great blessings, but what happens when the friendship’s fade?, when your friends have gone or its now too difficult for you to leave your own home and get out there?

This is the reality that many of today’s older generation are facing, with loneliness now being ranked as more harmful than obesity, to the wellbeing of our nation.

This November, Cyril Flint are on a mission to change all that, with their #30daysoffriendship campaign. Throughout the month there will be the opportunity to get involved in lots of different fundraising activities – all with the aim of raising much needed funds for the charity and increasing awareness of the difference it can make just having a friend.

In recent studies is has been found that those who had a close group of friends, and were actively engaged in social activities, were likely to live longer and be healthier overall. Because let’s face it, regardless of your age friendships make you feel happier, increase your sense of belonging, keep your mind alert and active as well as reducing stress levels – all of which greatly contribute to an improvement in physical and mental wellbeing.

Living with loneliness can be extremely painful and can have a detrimental effect on a person’s mood and their mental health. Many elderly people with early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s can find that their symptoms are accelerated by the lack of social interaction and stimulation in their day to day lives.

Cyril Flint Befrienders, aim to combat loneliness and social isolation in elderly people in Greater Manchester through friendship; they match lonely older people up with a volunteer befriender who visits them for an hour a week. Although an hour may not seem much, older people who access the service tell us that having a befriender makes a huge difference to their mood; don’t believe me? – just look at the testimonials! Friendships and human contact matter, and can make a real genuine impact on the life of a lonely or isolated person.

So what are you waiting for? – get out there and get involved, it can be as simple as going round for a brew and a biscuit, or putting some loose change into a donation box, but believe me it really does make a difference.

For more information about the #30daysoffriendship campaign or the work that Cyril Flint do, explore our website further or follow us on social media: Twitter: @CyrilFlintBefriender and Facebook: CyrilFlintBefrienders

Special thanks to Anna Morrissey from Block 8 for her guest blog. Block 8 offers digital consultancy and designs bespoke business systems for your company. Click on their logo to visit their website:

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46502511 - an elderly lady sitting near the window in the kitchen.

Friendship can make all the difference

Loneliness is often a subject people are afraid to discuss. This could be for several reasons, they could feel embarrassed, ashamed or concerned about making a fuss. People are sometimes concerned that they will be judged, as loneliness is subjective, it cannot be measured in a scientific manner, it is judged by each individuals need for social interaction and conversation; if we feel we do not have as much as we would like, we consider ourselves lonely. Some people require little interaction with others and are very content with their own company, whereas other people require a much higher level of interaction with others to ward off loneliness. There is no right or wrong, but as a community, we should encourage people to speak up if they feel lonely.

Public campaigns have helped to raise awareness that loneliness is not just upsetting, it actually has an impact on a person’s physical and mental health; research has linked loneliness to depression and some studies suggest that lonely people are twice as likely to develop Dementia as someone who is not lonely. Therefore we recognise that loneliness is a real concern and needs to be addressed before it impacts on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

At Cyril Flint Befrienders, we aim to combat loneliness and social isolation in elderly people in Greater Manchester through friendship; we match lonely older people up with a volunteer befriender who visits them for an hour a week. Although an hour may not seem much, older people who access our service tell us that having a befriender makes a huge difference to their mood;

Dorothy ‘After losing my husband I felt very down and lonely but having a befriender has helped lift my mood. Some days I can feel a bit low but I am always cheered up when Caroline rings and when she comes to see me.’

Donald ‘Having a befriender is the best thing that could’ve happened to me. You sent me an angel. I’m not alone anymore, I have a friend and it’s really changed my life. I still have sad days but I always have Sarah’s visits to look forward to.’

Eileen ‘I spend a lot of time on my own, so having someone to talk to is wonderful, that’s what I miss. It’s nice having someone to talk to, it makes you feel better about yourself.’

We’re proud of the friendships we’ve been able to create at Cyril Flint Befrienders and want to thank our volunteers for their commitment and work they are doing to combat loneliness and the health risks it can lead to.

If you know a lonely older person who could benefit from a new friend, please visit our website: www.cyrilflint.org or call us 0161 942 9465.

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Cyril Befrienders logo and links

‘You sent me an angel!’

donald-cropped‘I started to feel lonely after my wife of 60 years passed away. I live on a busy main road and would see cars and people passing by my house all day, but nobody would knock on my door to say hello. I felt very low indeed.

I saw a leaflet about Cyril Flint Befrienders at my GP surgery so I rang up to find out more. I was looking forward to having someone to come and chat with me and possibly go out with me in the day. After my wife died I have felt very lonely.

Having a befriender is the best thing that could have happened to me. You sent me an angel! I don’t know how she finds the time to come and visit me but I am so glad that she does. We always have something to talk about and she tells me that she enjoys coming to see me. She recently brought her 2 daughters to see me and they were as good as gold. They brought some things to do but they didn’t need them as I kept them entertained and it was lovely to meet them.

Having a new friend has helped improved my mood and life in general; I definitely feel much better and feel more content. I am getting out more now as well and have recently joined a painting class nearby. I am now meeting other people which has made me feel better.

I spend a lot of time on my own so having Sarah visit me does help. I used to be alone but now I have someone and it’s great, I just wish that I could have Sarah for longer but I can’t be greedy as I know she has a busy life!’  Donald.

An hour a week of your time could really help change an older person’s life. Sadly we have over 100 older people on our waiting list who have found themselves in a situation where they are very lonely and would like a friend. If you can spare the time for a new friend, get in touch for more information about our upcoming training sessions and the voluntary roles available.

 

46502511 - an elderly lady sitting near the window in the kitchen.

Gift an hour of your time!

In the spirit of the festive season, many people reflect upon their life over the course of the past year and choose to give the gift of their time, dedicating it to those who are less fortunate.

If you are able to find an hour during the hustle and bustle this festive season, we want to ask you to consider giving an hour of your time. Volunteering with Cyril Flint Befrienders can make a huge difference to an older person’s life, particularly if they have no immediate family or friends to spend time with.

Our aim is to reduce social isolation and loneliness, not only because it is so sad to think of older people feeling this way, but because of the mental and physical impact loneliness can have on people; research has found that loneliness and isolation can be as damaging to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Older people who access our service not only report feeling less lonely, they also tell us that having a befriender has helped improve their self-esteem and makes them feel good.

You could choose to visit and befriend an older person in their home; take them out to their local shops or even become a telephone befriender. Alternatively you may want to dedicate your time to helping out in our office or fundraising for us.

There are many ways to truly make a difference!

For further details contact us today on 0161 942 9465 to find out how to gift an hour of your time.

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Alison and Olga photo

International Friendship Day 2016

International Friendship Day is being celebrated on 7th August 2016. We know that some great friendships have been formed between our volunteers and the older people they have been matched with and we are continuing to match volunteers up with lonely older people in the Greater Manchester area each week and we are really enjoying seeing new friendships blossoming! (See above a lovely photograph of Alison and Olga who have been friends for over two years now!)

Friendships are a special bond between two people and a lot of us may be guilty of taking our friendships for granted. As time passes our lives change; we start a new job, move house, start a family, we don’t have as much time to invest in our friendships and we may lose touch with some of our friends. Unfortunately, many older people nowadays are finding themselves without adequate friendships; Some have friends who they only speak to on the telephone, others may have outlived their friends and may not have started a family of their own, resulting in them feeling isolated and lonely; whatever their personal situations, Cyril Flint Volunteers receives referrals for lonely older people in Greater Manchester each week and we currently have almost 100 people on our waiting list who would love to have a friend.

Being a volunteer befriender is not a one-way relationship, our volunteers have explained what a positive impact being a befriender has had on them:

‘I thought it would be nice for me to meet an older person where I live as I have no family in the area and it has helped me feel part of the community more. I have gained a lot from talking to O.  She gives me a different perspective on life in that she is looking back over the years and is so proud of how her children have turned out.  It has made me appreciate my own family and my children more.’ Tamsyn.

‘Volunteering has been better than expected. I think it’s been very rewarding for me and opened up a new aspect to my life, especially meeting new people, both service users and volunteers. It adds something to my conversation.’ Margaret

‘I get a lot from making other people feel good, I think it’s a two way process and they are helping me as much as I’m helping them. To me, I don’t find volunteering hard. I think if you find volunteer work that suits you, then you won’t find it a chore and instead will find it really rewarding.’ Julie

‘The best element of volunteering has been feeling needed. My befriender does not depend on me at all, but I know she looks forward to me visiting and values my friendship. She loves to look at what clothes I’m wearing each week, she is always trying to pinch my cardigans!’ Margaret

It’s lovely to receive this feedback from our fantastic team of volunteer befrienders. We are continually recruiting new volunteers and the impact they are having on lonely people’s lives is phenomenal. Here is what a few of our befriendees had to say about their befriender:

‘I look forward to having visits, it breaks up my day. Even when she’s gone, I have something to remember and something to talk about when I speak to other people. It has made a change to my mood, sometimes you can sit and have your own company for too long. It has opened a door for me and I have met some very nice people which has been lovely.’ Josie

‘Knowing that you have someone coming to visit gives you something to look forward to and a sense of value; it’s been a real boost to my self-esteem. I didn’t think it would change my life as much as it has done. I can now accept living alone as I’m not so lonely and this has helped improve my mental wellbeing. I just find it brilliant.’ Helen

‘Some days I can feel a bit low but I am always cheered up when Caroline rings and when she comes to see me. She has a busy life and works hard so I am grateful that she manages to find the time to see me.’ Dorothy

‘I look forward to having someone to chat to every week. We talk about what we have watched on television and about Vicky’s studying she is doing something to do with dentists. She tells me about her family in London as that is where she is from.’ Luna

So it is true, making friends makes you feel good! If you would like to know more about volunteering with Cyril Flint or would like to refer a lonely older person, please get in touch!

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Volunteering Makes You Feel Good!

Befriending undoubtedly brings lots of benefits to the person who receives a volunteer visits. Increased confidence, mood and wellbeing are all areas improved by receiving a befriending visit. However did you know being a Volunteer also brings with it a bunch of positive effects on your health too?

Mental Health

A recent report by the Citizens Advice Bureau suggests that four in five volunteers believe their volunteering activity has had a positive effect on their health. The report indicates that volunteering boosts self-esteem, employability and health – especially mental health. It suggests those who gave up their time to help others were less likely to suffer from depression plus they had higher levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing.

Cyril Flint Volunteers often talk about the feel good factor of “giving something back” to their communities, or supporting an organization or charity that has supported someone close to them. Volunteering can also be used to gain work experience or to widen social circles. All of which can have a positive effect on Mental Health.

But we were surprised to learn that volunteering has positive implications that go beyond mental health. A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.

Physical Health Benefits:

  • It reduces stress
    Doing things for others helps maintain good health.Positive emotions reduce stress and boost our immune system, and in turn can protect us against disease.
  • It helps get rid of negative feelings
    Negative emotions such as anger, aggression or hostility have a negative impact on our mind and body. Engaging in random acts of kindness can help decrease these feelings and stabilise our overall health.

Volunteering helps you live longer – really!

Whilst it’s not too hard to see the link between helping others and gaining a sense of connection, pride, and perspective, did you know that it can also help you live longer?

Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in the south of England analyzed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a 20 percent lower risk of death than their peers who do not volunteer. The study also found that volunteers had lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.

Dr. Suzanne Richards, who lead the team of researchers at Exeter, said that more testing on this subject is necessary in order to find out whether or not biological, cultural, and social factors are associated with a willingness to volunteer in the first place, as they are often associated with better health.

“The challenge now is to encourage people from more diverse backgrounds to take up volunteering, and then to measure whether improvements arise for them,” she said.

So there you have it – the benefits of volunteering are vast and varied. Give something back and improve your health today – visit the “Volunteer” section of our website today to find out more!

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Supported Volunteering in action

Looking around our regular supported volunteering session last week and we couldn’t help but beam with pride.

Some of the group were busy writing CV’s with a member of our team, others were having a brew and chatting about how they never really got out before they joined the group. Part of the session was spent signing up for a 4 week learning course due to start the next week. Plans were made to do a group visit to a nursing home the following week.

This truly was supported volunteering in action, where a little extra help is provided to people who want to become volunteers but who might need some support along the way.  Whether you have barriers to overcome, need a confidence boost or just a push in the right direction, we will do our best to help. Perhaps you want to build your confidence, get out and meet new people or get back on track into employment?

 Cyril Flint’s Supported Volunteer Scheme

If this sounds like you, then our supported volunteer programme could be just the thing. Our fun, informal and supportive Volunteer sessions can help empower people to become active in the community, build skills and increase their options whilst helping make a difference.Volunteering is a tried and tested method of improving confidence and wellbeing. However lots of people often find they face barriers to volunteering.

Our supported volunteer groups help build confidence and knowledge and encourage engagement in volunteering activity.

Support can include:

  • Help going through the application process
  • Filling in forms
  • A helping hand to get you started on your volunteering adventure. We are around to go with you to new places and are there to help you and the person you befriend settle in
  • Group sessions to share experiences and access further support if required.
  • Access to free supported learning courses whilst you are volunteering
  • Social events where you can meet other volunteers

And much, much more! Get in touch today – email Alison.McKenna@cyrilflint.org for more information.