BLOG: Angela Cooper, b:Friend

For the last few weeks I have been contacting and visiting older people that we know are feeling isolated and lonely within the area of Denaby and Conisbrough. During this time I have come to realise that some of the older neighbours that I’ve been visiting don’t see anyone, not only from one day to the next, but for many days or even weeks at a time.

“I haven’t seen or spoken to a human being from Thursday to the Tuesday!”

For some, they are not only experiencing the awful feelings of being isolated and lonely, many are also feeling much worse; depressed, unloved, undervalued, a nuisance to others and lost!

“I am very lonely! I have always being a very sociable person who had many friends. My own family lives away and don’t get to see them as often as I would like and with me living to a good old age I have lost all my friends over the years – 27 friends in total, so I haven’t got any friends left now! My health restricts what I can do so I don’t really go out anywhere, I just carry on the best I can.”

That’s where I come in, the Warden.

I’m finding that most of the older neighbours are in need of human contact, seeing a friendly face, having a laugh or cry. Someone that listens to their concerns and, more importantly, someone who can/will open the door and connect them with the outside world again. By letting them know what is happening within their own community, what services are available for them to access, keeping them safe and getting them out and about – but mainly just offering an outlet in the monotony of isolation.

b:Friend have launched this pilot project, supported by Healthwatch Doncaster, to reach people otherwise unsupported. Back in 2011 the long-standing warden service ended replaced by an electronic pendant scheme which offers older people emergency response at the press of a button for a weekly fee. This has, however, reduced face-to-face contact so this pilot looks to measure the benefit of short weekly visits and calls on the wellbeing of isolated older neighbours.

More important is their wellbeing – it’s knowing that someone is there for them, someone is checking in on them, ensuring that all is well with them and there is someone out there that does care about them.

It’s a fabulous scheme – how a simple five minute phone call or 20 minute visit can bring so much positivity and value back into any person’s life – It’s just so great so see and hear the difference and I am just so proud to be a part of it.

If you’d like to find out about becoming a volunteer Warden in your area, email: info@letsbfriend.org.uk

Written by Angela Cooper – Befriending Coordinator, b:Friend


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