A befriending scheme that helps older people and vulnerable adults who are isolated or lonely in Guildford is in need of more volunteers to help with the demand it is receiving.
Neighbourhood Angels is appealing for more people who would like to help by spending some time befriending others – simply by visiting them and chatting to them, or helping them to go out and do some shopping, or go with them to a local day centre.
The scheme aims to reduce dependency on health and social services by utilising volunteers and community services. It is already working very well and one person who benefitted from having someone to talk to said: “You really live up to your name.”
No specialist skills or experience are required to become a Neighbourhood Angel, just compassion and availability to give a few hours a week or a fortnight, on a flexible basis.
Neighbourhood Angels co-ordinator Rachel Guilford, said: “The aim is that volunteers will sign up for a set number of months to make sure there is continuity with those they are befriending.”
The needs of those referred to Neighbourhood Angels varies. It matches up volunteers and their life skills to those who need help. A match may be arranged if the person in need has a specific interest, or it could be of a similar age, and so on.
Needs and circumstances of those who have been helped include: bereavement, visual impairment, carers, aphasia (word-finding difficulties), depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, MS, and poor mobility.
Following a recent bereavement, one lady being visited said she would describe her experience as ‘desolate’, rather than lonely. The project aims to encourage individuals to build meaningful activities and relationships into their lives.
As a result of support from a ‘neighbourhood angel’, some people have started going to day centres, U3A groups, a job forum and local walks.
It has also linked people with meals on wheels, adult social care, the MS Society and Sight for Surrey, for more specific support.
Volunteers who become Neighbourhood Angels will receive guidance on listening skills, training on safeguarding and advice on helping people reconnect with their communities.
Contact Rachel Guilford on 07796 098077. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Neighbourhood Angels is being facilitated by the Diocese of Guildford’s Community Engagement Team and is funded by Guildford Borough Council.