One of the most common issues faced by carers today is loneliness and isolation, which is why the Carers’ Centre are launching a new telephone befriending programme for the Bath and North East Somerset area.
Caring can be incredibly emotionally draining and coupled with a lack of support networks carers can often find themselves close to breaking point.
“Befriending has been shown to be a very helpful, very simple solution to ongoing isolation and loneliness,” said Andy Graham, Carers’ Centre Volunteering Coordinator and the lead on this project.
“Our aim is to build more relationships with isolated carers and maximize the number of people we reach out to.”
Melissa Nash, who has worked as a befriender for a parent-carers befriending initiative, Face2Face, is supporting the project in its early stages.
“I am working with carers registered with the Centre who have indicated that they could benefit from a befriender.
“From my work at Face2Face I can say there is absolutely a need for this type of intervention.
“In my past role I have heard from people who have been through the programme and the change in them is really overwhelming.
“One mum we worked with was so agoraphobic she didn’t want to leave her house, but the befriender was able to coax her out, as well as talking through the problems she was having.
“She’s now gone on to set up her own support group,” said Melissa.
“Having someone to talk to means that person is no longer just a ‘carer’ or ‘mum’ – they can be themselves for a bit and find the space to step back from their caring role.
“Many of our volunteer befrienders will be carers themselves so it makes a world of difference to talk to someone who has some idea of what you’re going through.”
The telephone aspect of the befriending service is an attempt to fit in with and work around carers’ busy lives.
“As well as helping us reach more carers, there’s an intimacy to a phone call.” continued Andy.
“A regular call from someone who’s keen to know how you are can sometimes make all the difference.”
If you’re a carer and think you would like to talk to one of the befrienders, or if you would like to volunteer, give the Carers’ Centre a call on 0800 0388 885.