Befriending Service – Alzheimer’s Society

by | Aug 29, 2017 | News, Support, Volunteering

How to make a real difference by volunteering.

Volunteer Befrienders for Alzheimer’s Society are calling on residents of South Bucks to sign up and volunteer to support people with dementia to continue to feel a part of their community.

Brenda has been a volunteer with the Buckinghamshire Befriending Service for more than three years. She said she finds the role rewarding and wants to encourage others to sign up. She said: “I find being with people makes me happier and you get to learn about so many things because we all have stories to tell. The greatest gift though is knowing that you have given something back to society and making the person feel inclusive in society.  I don’t see the dementia.  My visits are based purely on having company and good conversation for both parties.  I understand that the recent memory is not as focused as it once was, but we don’t dwell on it and the long-term memory is very much still there and once we start we can talk for hours.  We conduct ourselves in a very normal way.  We have excellent conversations and do activities including playing scrabble, crosswords, knitting and growing runner beans and tomatoes.”

A total of 85 per cent of people with dementia say that they struggle with isolation, loneliness and depression. Befrienders provide companionship and are matched with people depending on their personality and common interests so those with the condition are able to continue to do things they love from shopping, visiting the gardening centre or a national trust centre to simply just having a chat over a cup of tea.

Another befriender, Carmen, is also a Volunteer Befriender.  She said: “I find my befriending visits interesting and rewarding.  Dementia can take away someone’s confidence to socialise, communicate and venture outside.  I like communicating, enjoy sharing my experiences and I feel good when I have managed to make someone else smile or laugh.  I always come away with a smile on my face and I look forward to my visit the following week.  I feel that I have perhaps made a tiny difference to someone. My befriendee seems to be happy to see me each week and always asks whether I will come back next week.”

To become a Befriending volunteer, no experience is needed and full training is given along with regular support meetings.  Sam Marshall, Alzheimer’s Society Befriending Manager for Buckinghamshire, said: “Life doesn’t stop when a person is diagnosed with dementia. People often still want to do the things they enjoyed doing before.  This service offers the perfect opportunity for volunteers to help people with dementia to continue to feel a part of their community and to do the things they enjoy. There are 8,972 people living with dementia in Buckinghamshire and with the right support people can live well in their communities.  Our volunteers really do make a difference!”

To find out more about volunteering for the befriending service contact Sam on 01296 331722 or email bucksbefriending@alzheimers.org.uk