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!