The amazing role of befriending

10th May 24

Amy and PatFor some of us who are looking after someone, our caring role can mean we start to become isolated. But we have a group of volunteers who are giving people a new sense of connection and making sure they do not feel they are on their own.

Our Norfolk Befriending Service helps people like Craig and Pat. Pat has dementia and relies on her husband Craig to give her the support she needs every day. She feels safe and well due to his dedicated, 24/7 care.

But they have no family close by to help and Craig has lost touch with many of his friends due to the demands of his caring role. He used to enjoy cycling but had to give this up as he is no longer able to leave Pat alone and now has a visual impairment himself.

Having Amy from our befriending service visiting regularly has given Craig someone he feels connected with. He knows she can relate to his caring situation. And Pat enjoys and benefits from the sociable time with Amy too.

Craig told us, “Having Amy visit means I can look forward to a regular weekly conversation.

“We enjoy spending time with Amy as she is very friendly and easy to get on with, and most importantly her life is so very different from ours – hearing about her travels and applications and interviews at university has been the most interesting thing we have done this year!”

Amy finds volunteering her time as a Befriender very rewarding, “I have personal experience caring for people, as I help my mum in looking after my siblings with learning difficulties. These experiences made me want to help others who are in caring roles. I intend to make use of my volunteering experience in my future career, hopefully as an art therapist.”

The Norfolk Befriending Service matches volunteers with unpaid carers to give them regular companionship at home, as well as helping them to be able to use services in the community or with practical help such as gardening or shopping.

If you are able to give some time to help carers like Craig in Norfolk, or know an unpaid carer who would benefit from receiving this service, please contact the team for more information. Call 0345 241 0954 or email [email protected]

The Mercers' Company Trustee to The Earl of Northampton's CharityThanks to The Earl of Northampton’s Charity, via their sole Trustee, The Mercers’ Company, for supporting this project.