Category Archive :News

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

About 75% of our clients have carers that benefit as a secondary outcome from delivering our befriending service. These could be a son or daughter living apart from their parent or a partner or spouse living in the same house. But many of these people wouldn’t consider themselves a carer. Our befriending service supports carers in many ways, both directly and indirectly.

Some of our clients that we work with are bedbound. If they live with a partner or spouse then they are an unpaid family carer. Often we match a befriender with the person being cared for, easing their isolation, but there is also a benefit to the carer. For the carer this gives them an opportunity to take a break, go in the garden or use the time to do a hobby. They also benefit from conversation and interaction with the befriender and the knowledge that their loved one is supported. Occasionally we match a befriender with the unpaid family carer. They may have become socially isolated as a result of their carer responsibilities and a befriender can help them become more socially active again.

I ring my Dad every night to make sure he’s OK. We’ve run out of things to talk about.

A befriender will listen to the stories that the carer has heard many times before. They do not have to worry about practical things like shopping, medication or laundry and so have the time and space to chat. The client will also have news from their befriender that they can share with their carer. A carer may visit their relative daily but knows that when the befriender is visiting then they are safe and have had some company that day. Befriending can revitalise and refresh client’s relationships with their carers.

West Norfolk Befriending are often able to offer other services and support for our clients and carers. Our befrienders build relationships with their clients and can gently suggest changes to the client, or we can feed information to the carer. Sometimes we’ve worked really closely with family carers behind the scenes to ensure very vulnerable clients are safe, and these have been fiercely independent clients who’d reject explicit offers of help. We’re proud that our befriending service supports both clients and carers.

Volunteers Week takes place every year 1 – 7 June and it’s an opportunity to celebrate and say thankyou to volunteers across the UK. We have a fantastic team of volunteers doing everything from administration to helping with events, helping with our website and of course befriending. This post celebrates the work that our wonderful volunteers do – with words from them telling us why they love volunteering and the impact that their befriending has on their clients. Our volunteers visit clients in their own homes and Care Homes through the Care Home Connectors project. Now, during the Coronavirus pandemic, our volunteers are taking telephone befriending in their stride – continuing to make a massive difference for socially isolated older people in West Norfolk. Get in touch with us here if you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering with us.

One of the nicest things about Befriending is to make the client laugh. My current client says she wishes I could stay forever.

Our befrienders make a massive difference to their client’s lives, wellbeing and happiness – plus volunteering is rewarding for them aswell!

My client’s face lit up with delight when I took him to the seaside. He hadn’t been for two years since his illness.

Our volunteers ease isolation not only by bringing the outside in but also by taking clients out when possible. With a good match and a trusting relationship with their volunteer, our clients enjoy trips to the seaside, cafes and garden centres – plus to our social events where clients get to meet other volunteers, staff and clients.
“It is a privilege to be accepted by clients and trusted enough for them to talk to me. I love to see the difference over time that my visits make to the client, how they open up and readily take part in conversations.

It took a little while for my client to remember how to crochet but we managed to do some.

Our volunteers often spend time with their clients encouraging their hobbies and interests. Whether that’s crochet, reading or gardening our volunteers help to brighten our clients lives long after their visit.

The people running West Norfolk Befriending are warm and passionate, the clients appreciative and lonely. I now have clients who are friends and thoroughly enjoy the friendship of other Befrienders and the joy I bring to lonely clients.

Our clients all have such wonderful stories to tell and for most of them they have no-one who has the time to listen – that’s where we come in. My clients have had such varied careers such as coal miner, milliner, member of concert party in the war, one who travelled all over the world while she worked with British Airways and another who worked with the Bank of Australia in Melbourne. I have learnt a lot from our talks and have enjoyed the visits as much as the client.

Our wonderful volunteers give an amazing 3036 hours a year to listen to our clients stories.

I think befriending says it all; we provide social contact for people who live alone, we provide a listening ear and our time. This is why I am proud to be a volunteer for West Norfolk Befriending.

It’s so lovely to hear that our volunteers are proud to be a West Norfolk Befriending volunteer! We are very proud of our volunteers and the brilliant work that they do.

While our usual befriending as part of Care Home Connectors cannot happen at the moment we’ve been remaining in regular contact with the care homes. They are extremely busy working with current government guidelines in response to Covid:19. There has been a huge amount of community spirit, kindness and generosity during the pandemic and we have been able to connect the care homes we are working with to some wonderful members of the community.

Together with great community spirit, the care homes will soon be receiving cards in partnership with Norfolk Linking Lives and the local primary school. This is to help reduce the isolation felt by residents, which is more prevalent than ever.

We are also very grateful to Paul Macro Landscape Photography for kindly donating postcards to all residents in all four care homes.  These postcards are for the residents to write and send to their families who cannot visit them at present due to the Coronavirus outbreak. 

The kindness just keeps coming! A lovely lady, called Anne in the Angels of Kings Lynn group who knitted some ear protectors for the staff at the care homes. These ear protectors will help staff with PPE as it stops the elastic from face masks digging into the skin.

As well as keeping in regular contact with the care homes, Amanda, Project Coordinator is also keeping in regular contact with the volunteers and updating them with the current status of the project.

West Norfolk Befriending (Care Home Connectors) is very grateful and thankful for such kindness shown to our project. It’s at times like these that our community really has gone above and beyond, Thank you.

We’re looking forward to getting back in to our care homes when it’s safe. This photo is from our session on the 9th March when we worked with Friend In Deed at Goodwins Hall Care Home in King’s Lynn.

West Norfolk Befriending is delighted to have received £8,885 funding from the Norfolk Community Foundation’s Covid-19 Local Resilience Fund. This allows the charity to support more people in West Norfolk through short-term telephone befriending during the Coronavirus pandemic.

West Norfolk Befriending is a small local charity who works with socially isolated older people in the West of Norfolk covering the Borough Council area from Hunstanton to King’s Lynn down to Downham Market and surrounding villages. We match trained volunteers with socially isolated older people with the aim of reducing isolation and improving their overall health.

‘We have been working since 2002 with a focus on increasing face to face contact to ease social isolation for older people in West Norfolk. With the Coronavirus outbreak we have had to rapidly change the way that we work. Our existing clients and volunteers have adapted to telephone befriending and this funding from the Norfolk Community Foundation allows us to expand our telephone befriending offer to clients that have already been referred to us and are on our waiting list.’

Norfolk Community Foundation has established the Covid-19 Community Response Fund to support local charities working hard on the ground to keep vulnerable people safe and well.

Care Home Connectors is a new project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund to reduce isolation felt by residents in Care Homes. The project endeavours to match volunteers with residents who will visit with them fortnightly for approximately an hour for light refreshment and quality conversation. The project also runs intergenerational sessions with Friend in Deed, plus information and family support sessions hosted by West Norfolk Carers.

All of our one-to-one visits, befriender support meetings, community events including coffee mornings and fundraisers and new client assessments have been cancelled.  This decision was not taken lightly and is for the safety of everyone involved at West Norfolk Befriending. The board of trustees will review the situation regularly.

West Norfolk Befriending is offering telephone befriending to all current clients. Thankyou to the continue support of our team of volunteers. All staff are now working from home and the office phone has been diverted. Please contact us on 01553 763500. We continue to support our clients and our team of volunteers.

Stay safe and stay at home.

A little bit of funding news:

Following a public vote in Jan and Feb 2019 we received £2,000 through the Tesco Bags for Life scheme. This money funded a staff post in Downham Market. This funding has now come to an end but helped us to increase our volunteers and the clients we can support in the Downham Market area.

We are very grateful to have received a donation of £700 from the Vancouver Round Table. This donation will allow us to organise a social event for our clients to help ease their isolation and loneliness. These events provide our clients with the opportunity to socialise with their befrienders in a different environment and also meet other clients and volunteers.

Our fantastic supporter Andrew raised over £1050 for West Norfolk Befriending following his half marathon in Cambridge in March. Here he is with his medal after running the race in a brilliant 2 hours, 9 minutes and 46 seconds! His fundraising will allow us to upgrade our computer equipment. Thankyou very much to Andrew and everyone who sponsored him.

If you’d like to fundraise for us or to give a donation to help us to support socially isolated older people in West Norfolk please take a look at our justgiving profile.

In view of the current situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus our Board met on Monday 16th March and sadly decided to suspend our one-to-one visits, community events and new assessments.  This decision was not taken lightly and is for the safety of everyone involved at West Norfolk Befriending.  This means that all one-to-one visits, befriender support meetings, coffee mornings and fundraisers will be cancelled.  We have spoken to all our clients today and followed this up with a letter explaining the situation so they are aware that volunteers will not be visiting them for the time being.

Volunteers have been asked not to visit but will, where possible, continue making contact  by phone.  Our office will be staffed Monday – Friday 9.30am – 4pm to enable us to support our clients and volunteers. Outside these hours our answer phone will pick up any messages.

West Norfolk Befriending is concerned about the impact this will have on people’s isolation but our priority has to be the safety of both our clients and volunteers and we are sure that you will understand this. The situation will be reviewed in a month and we will keep you informed.

Alan Hayes
Chair of Trustees

Pippa May
CEO

We’re delighted to announce that one of our supporters, Andrew, is now training for the Cambridge half marathon and has decided to run for West Norfolk Befriending.

Andrew will be running in memory of his grandmother, Kate. In Andrew’s words, “She lived a long and happy life surrounded by a family who loved her. The work West Norfolk Befriending do means a lot to me, my Nan was extremely lucky to have such a big family. Many aren’t as blessed.”

Thank you Andrew for sharing your story, and for choosing to support us. It means a lot to us and will make a real difference to the lives of isolated older people in West Norfolk. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing updates on Andrew’s progress as he trains for the half marathon.

Have a look at his fundraising page here.

ASK LILY (Living Independently in Later Years) is a directory of valuable information about services to support older adults in the community. From money matters to transport, health and care homes, LILY is the first place to look when you want to know what help is out there.

We are a LILY delivery partner and work closely with LILY in the West Norfolk community. We attend community events and visit people to help them access the wealth of information and services LILY have available.

Visit their website or call us for a chat to find out how we can support you or your loved one.