Our CEO, Pippa May was delighted to be invited to a small gathering at the King’s Lynn Minster for the announcement of the new Bishop of Lynn, Venerable Dr Jane Steen. The Bishop of Lynn is the patron of West Norfolk Befriending.
This an historic appointment as the new Bishop of Lynn will be formally consecrated in Norwich Cathedral in June. This is the first time that the consecration will happen in Norwich in 100 years due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Dr Jane Steen is also the first ever female bishop in Norfolk! Read more about the announcement in the Lynn News.
We usually hold two fundraising events each year. Our coffee mornings are always very popular and we raise a great deal of funds for our work. This year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have been unable to host our events and have really missed them – not only for the funds that we would have been able to raise but also being able to get out and about in the community and meeting people.
However, we are pleased to be able to share with three ways you can easily support us and raise funds for us – digitally!
When shopping on Amazon please go to Amazon Smile first and select West Norfolk Befriending. You will then be supporting WNB directly through any purchases that are made.
Once you’ve set it up simply shop at smile.amazon.co.uk and Amazon will donate to West Norfolk Befriending at no extra cost for you.
Going through Amazon Smile only takes extra seconds but is a way to support West Norfolk Befriending and our valuable work.
West Norfolk Wins
West Norfolk Wins is a weekly lottery run by King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council to support local charities in West Norfolk.
You can also fundraise for us and create a donation page on JustGiving to collect sponsorship and donations from friends, family and colleagues. Please get in touch if you are interested in fundraising for us, and we can support you in your fundraising efforts.
We’re delighted to be part of Operation No Cold Shoulder offering support to ease isolation in partnership with Age UK Norfolk, Community Action Norfolk, Creative Arts East and Future Projects. Funding from this project allows us to offer Befriending in North Lynn and Dersingham. More information about Operation No Cold Shoulder is available on the Community Action Norfolk website.
West Norfolk Befriending have teamed up with the UK’s biggest electricity distributor to match the company’s trained volunteers with older people who may be feeling isolated by COVID-19.
Key workers at UK Power Networks have partnered with charities to launch a telephone befriending service aimed at tackling social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. UK Power Networks befrienders will phone them regularly during work time through the company’s Donate a Day scheme, which gives over 6,000 employees two paid days annually to volunteer.
Pippa May, chief executive of West Norfolk Befriending, said: “We are a tiny charity facing increasing demand for our services so it’s incredibly exciting to work with UK Power Networks to transform the service we offer and reduce social isolation at this difficult time.
“On average we work with frail people in their nineties who may have outlived family and friends or don’t have family nearby. They are often housebound, so isolation is always there, but increased by lockdown because the few visitors they had, such as hairdressers, can’t come anymore.
“It makes a real difference to their quality of life having someone to chat with, who has time to listen. Any family they do have may be carers, but a befriender listens to them. My hope is that at the end of this lockdown the community continues coming together to tackle isolation. It doesn’t have to cost anything.”
Each volunteer is background checked to safeguard people. A priority for UK Power Networks during the pandemic is taking extra care of people in vulnerable households in the rare event of a power cut. Some 1.87 million eligible households have signed its Priority Services Register for the extra services the company provides in such emergencies, up 6% in the last year.
Kerry Potter, consumer vulnerability manager at UK Power Networks, said: “We are excited to work with our existing charity partners to provide additional support at a time when their resources are stretched and more people are contacting them hoping to form a social connection at a time when connections are much more difficult to establish.
“These charities are providing an invaluable service to customers in our highest risk groups who would be eligible to join our Priority Services Register and typically may be struggling with their energy bills. People who have been shielding during the coronavirus outbreak will have an increased awareness of how their mental health is affected by social isolation.”
We were delighted to welcome Jennifer, UK Power Networks’ training support assistant, to our befrienders team. She’s written about her experience with us here:
Reaching out to people who are feeling vulnerable and alone has never been more important. So when my manager invited me to take part in UK Power Networks’ confidential new telephone befriending scheme, Donate by Dialling, I readily agreed to be connected with someone in need of kindness and friendship over the telephone at this difficult time.
Last week, following training and interviews, I was matched by a small charity, West Norfolk Befriending, with someone who wanted a friendly ear and to chat, something we may take for granted, but which others sadly lack.
I was born in Africa and moved across three continents before the age of nine, which gave me a lot of life experience. I have gained compassion, understanding and tolerance and have developed those qualities as I’ve got older.
My manager approached me as someone who she felt has the skills to take on this important role of supporting a vulnerable person in their home. It felt good to know that people felt I had right qualities to make a difference.
I have volunteered in different ways throughout my life. To volunteer is to give back. It’s really personal and quite subjective. We are all passing through this life and I believe that when we give something, we get something back ten-fold. It’s like a miracle happening, like an angel coming, just when you needed it.
West Norfolk Befriending is a really supportive charity which understands their customers’ needs and creates a supportive environment. I had two interviews before being matched with a person who has similar interests to me. We have family in the same areas. She has a dependent and is a carer for that person and I have an elderly mother and am a carer for her. We both enjoy gardening and the allotment.
We haven’t talked about those things yet and I spent our first call listening. She is chatty and my call gave her an opportunity to let it all out. It’s another outlet now for her. Before calling I find that meditating, for even five minutes, frees my mind so that I give her my full attention. I hope that my calls give her friendship, somewhere to park some of her anxieties and frustrations and know she has a friend at the other end of the phone to listen. She will know that I will call her regularly.
If you’re interested in volunteering with us, find out more and get in touch with us here.
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.
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.
We were excited to feature on BBC Radio Norfolk last week as part of its special series of broadcasts to launch its Volunteer of the Year awards. The show invited us to talk about how and why we work with volunteers, and gave us the opportunity to unveil our new Care Home Connectors project.
Hear from Chief Executive Pippa about what we do, and from our new member of staff Amanda, who talks about Care Home Connectors.
Our volunteers breathe life into the organisation, helping us to help vulnerable clients and provide a lifeline to them through their isolation. We’ve been working with the community for the past 15 years and always welcome new volunteers, whether it’s offering our core service as Befrienders or providing other much-valued skills.
You can find the show here, and go straight to our slot in the show at 01:26:00.
We receive lots of wonderful letters from our clients and we wanted to take the opportunity to share some of them with you. Below you’ll find a recent letter that we found particularly moving, written to this lady’s Befriender. Pippa, our CEO, says, “It was a lovely surprise to receive a poem and such a nice way to hear how our clients feel about our service.” We’ll let the poem speak for itself.
It wasn’t just because I was lonely. I lied! Yes it was! The darkness was always there, waiting, creeping stealthily from the shadows to encompass me and squeeze the tears from my eyes. I had thought I could sing my way through bereavement and joined two choirs but the pain lingered on. “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” I whispered, “Not me!” I was just a miserable old git, the mirror confirmed it.
“When I needed a neighbour were you there?” I asked. I wrapped myself in a cocoon of self-pity and could not escape through the tangled threads. “What is this life if full of care?” wrote W.H.Davies.
“Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again.” I sang along with Frank Sinatra. Easier said than done!
No longer able to drive left me devastated. My only trips out were to the hospital. Sitting waiting for hours just for five minutes with a doctor; or worse being admitted and treated as though my brain had already left my crumpled body was humiliating. I watched the telly too much. I searched the internet for help. So many phone calls. It was not in vain. In October ’18 my guardian angel answered my call. Hooray! I could stop telling Mrs May what to do or shout answers to quiz programmes. CAROL had arrived! She shared my troubles, laughed at my jokes and made me realise that my nightmares were over.
It was ok that my bathroom had flooded, my microwave had died and my washing machine was washed out. I even coped with a power cut stranding me in the dark and trapping me in my electric recliner chair. My young carers thought this event was hilarious and did not understand my terror. They believe that whatever was stopping me running a marathon or swimming the channel was curable. Sadly not!
Now I could share my experiences with Carol and
tragedy became bearable. I began to see the funny side of life again. I could
share events in my life. Tell her about my distant family; my uncle who survived the Somme and left me a treasure of
his written and voice recordings of his experiences.
Life has to go on but there are times when
being alone causes me to panic. A
trouble shared is a trouble halved is very true, thanks to Carol.
Thank you to all at West Norfolk Befriending
for helping me make my days left on this planet a time to enjoy.
I’ve been a Befriender for six months now and the time has flown by. Visiting an isolated older person in their home is rewarding and positive. Here are five things I’ve learnt from the Befriending experience.
1. Volunteering helps volunteers, too!
It’s not just the people you’re supporting who benefit from you giving your free time. It’s hugely rewarding for you, too. Benefits include a sense of fulfilment, uplifted spirits and a way of meeting new people. It can really boost your confidence to know that you are helping someone and doing that little bit to improve their life. Every time I visit my client, I feel the positive impact of having brightened up someone else’s day. It’s been scientifically proven that doing good deeds can help with our mood, too. Not to mention getting to know other volunteers at our monthly meetings – they are a lovely bunch and have a wealth of experience to share.
2. New skills
I’ve attended several training sessions during my time here so far, on subjects as wide-ranging as confidentiality and fire safety. I have even honed my skills in website design, having rebuilt this very site on a voluntary basis. Volunteering for a small charity means there could be more opportunities to get involved and use or develop your skills. It’s always worth asking.
3. Greater awareness of the past
It’s the little things we take for granted, like being able to run the washing machine and looking everything up on the Internet, or buying off-the-rack clothes – the older generation can bring to life what it was like before all these conveniences! In our Sharing Stories project, we loved hearing about everyday life and learning about the fascinating lives our clients have led. We’ll be updating you on this wonderful project soon, so watch this space.
4. An insight into how other people think
Befriending often brings together two people who might never have met under normal circumstances. This makes it a lovely opportunity to get to know other views on life and understand other people better. Always a great asset in any social situation.
5. It’s the simple things that make a difference
Visiting someone once every fortnight might not seem like much – but that regular, reliable contact, that talk shared over a hot cup of tea, could make all the difference to them. According to the Health Foundation, “one in three older people in the UK live alone”. This is true for many of our clients. Sometimes they might not have seen anyone for several days, so being able to chat with you really can make their day.
These are some of my own experiences as a Befriender, but I’d love to hear yours – what’s your most memorable moment? What have you learnt?
Remember not to use any names to keep peoples’ identities private.
If you’re ready to apply for a Befriender role, click here.