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Rossendale Hospice seeking people who would like to become a befriender

Rossendale Hospice is seeking volunteers to be involved in a befriending initiative that has run locally for over five years.

The aim of the befriending service is to reduce social isolation for people, or the carers of people in Rossendale, who are elderly or have health problems. The scheme matches each person (befriendee) with a volunteer befriender who can visit regularly to provide some company and, in some cases, assistance with accessing particular interest groups or sources of support.

The service is for people who are registered with a Rossendale GP practice and meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Be aged 75 or over*
  • Have a life limiting illness
  • Have a long-term condition

*However, this doesn’t exclude those under 75 who may be suitable for the service, it just means they will assessed on an individual basis.

Befriending is entirely flexible to suit the needs of both the volunteer befriender and the befriendee and, as such, can be carried out seven days a week, daytimes and evenings.

Irene Smith, Chief Officer at Rossendale Hospice, explained: “You don’t need any special qualifications to become a befriender. For those people who want to volunteer, they will be given training by an experienced befriending co-ordinator. You will learn how to listen in a caring and non-judgemental way. When you start work the same co-ordinator will be on hand to support you, whilst being a befriender can be extremely rewarding it can also at times be emotionally tough.

“In the current climate of responding to the COVID 19 pandemic it’s never been more important than ever to look out for each other. At the hospice we believe that befriending offers supportive, reliable relationships to people who would otherwise be socially isolated.”

Amy O’Connor, Befriending Co-ordinator at Rossendale Hospice, and the first point of contact for befriending volunteers, said: “You will become an invaluable resource to people who feel that they have nowhere else to turn. Evidence suggests that giving your time in this way could be as valuable to you as the person that you support. A simple friendly socially distanced chat or phone call can make all the difference.”

Dr Abdul Mannan, a local Rossendale GP and Clinical Director of Rossendale West Primary Care Network, has been able to see first-hand over a number of years the benefits that a local befriending service can bring. He said: “The results of befriending can be very significant. Befriending often provides people with a new direction in life, opens up a range of activities and leads to increased self-esteem and self-confidence. Befriending can also reduce the burden on other services which people may use inappropriately as they seek social contact.”

For more information on the befriending service, or to make an enquiry about becoming a volunteer befriender, please contact Amy O’Connor at Rossendale Hospice via e-mail - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phoning the hospice on 01706 253633.