Tag Archive :isolation

We are working with four Care Homes as part of the Care Home Connectors project, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, to reduce social isolation for residents.

We received ear protectors knitted by Anne Sayell via the Angels of Kings Lynn group and postcards from Paul Macro Photography. The ear protectors are for Care Home staff to increase comfort while wearing PPE and the postcards are for each resident to write and send to their loved ones during the Covid19 lockdown while visiting is restricted.

We were very pleased to deliver ear protectors and postcards to Goodwins Hall in King’s Lynn, Burman House in Terrington St John, Downham Grange in Downham Market and Fridhem Rest Home in Heacham.

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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.”

The Priority Services Register provides free extra help during power cuts for pensioners, families with young children and people with special needs, disabilities or health conditions. For details visit www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority, call 0800 169 9970, or email psr@ukpowernetworks.co.uk.

Romina Arefin, graduate innovation engineer at UK Power Networks, who is coordinating the company’s befriending service and taking part in the programme.

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

To  Carol, “Thank you for being my friend.”

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Everyone’s welcome at Sandringham Café & Restaurant on the last Monday of the month at 11am (except bank holidays). You’ll find a warm welcome waiting for you! There’s no need to book and no obligation to attend – just drop in for some friendly faces and company over food.

Based in the beautiful grounds of the Sandringham Estate, our monthly event is the perfect opportunity to get out and about while trying some of the delicious meals and cake available to purchase. Our volunteers have a regular table where we look forward to meeting you and spending time getting to know each other.

According to a recent survey by Sainsbury’s, “29 per cent of adults reported eating alone most or all of the time”. Yet eating with others can offer huge benefits to our sense of well-being through socialising and a shared experience. In our everyday work at West Norfolk Befriending, eating alone is something we come across especially often among older people who live on their own and we really wanted to offer a way for people to reconnect with others through food. That’s why we are pleased to run this lovely event each month.

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with us.

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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.

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The words ‘isolation’ and ‘loneliness’ are often used interchangeably, but there is more to it than you might think.

Loneliness is when someone considers the number and quality of their social interactions as unacceptable. Loneliness isn’t simply being alone or isolated, as many people enjoy this at times, but is the feeling of wanting more, socially. Some people can have many healthy relationships yet still feel lonely.

We consider isolation to be a situation where someone has difficulty in getting out of the house and fulfilling their social and other needs. This could be due to mobility problems, lack of transport access, an isolated location or a combination of all of these and more.

Loneliness is a feeling, while isolation is an objective situation.

How does isolation affect people?

Most of us will feel isolated at different points in our lives, and it can have a knock-on effect on our mental and physical health. We are social beings, so living in isolation can leave us with feelings of anxiety and sadness, or even depression.

Isolation can prevent us getting to the health services we need, or create a barrier to seeing friends and relatives. This can be due to a loss of confidence, and the longer we are isolated, the more daunting it can be to overcome those barriers.

Many of our clients have been used to an active social life, independently getting themselves where they need to go and not asking for anyone’s help. Surgery, ill health or the loss of their partner can leave them vulnerable and struggling to maintain social links, at a time when they need it most. It is often when people experience major life changes that they are referred to us. We help people to adapt to these changes and move confidently into the future.

How can I help isolated older people?

You can tactfully check in on them, signpost them to services that could help, and listen to their thoughts and feelings. This can be enough to lift someone out of their isolation and bring the outside world in.

We all want to be listened to and heard, and that is why our Befriending work is so important to our clients.

Our volunteer Befrienders love what they do. They listen without judgement, building trust over time through regular contact.

A friendly face and a kind word, shared stories and bursts of laughter – these are the moments that enhance peoples’ lives, and we are here to help create them.

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