On Friday, James was delighted to meet Pippa May, the manager of West Norfolk Befriending, to talk about the vital role they play in helping to tackle isolation among older people in West Norfolk
West Norfolk Befriending was founded in 2002 and has approximately 40 volunteers 'Befrienders' who pre-Covid offered fortnightly visits to clients chatting over a cup of tea or taking them out for lunch.
The service helps people to enhance their quality of life; maintain their independence; reduce isolation; improve their physical and mental well-being; and identify risks to health and environment.
Befriending is offered for a year, with an opportunity to exchange numbers and maintain friendships after this period. Pippa informed James that there are plenty of ongoing friendships between clients and volunteers, showing the invaluable service West Norfolk Befriending offers.
James said: “West Norfolk Befrienders is one of the brilliant local charities making a positive difference to our community. It was encouraging to hear how they have adapted to continue to support people during Covid-19 and by providing a listening ear helping give people a link to the outside world.”
Since COVID, community togetherness has risen, however for organisations such as West Norfolk Befriending challenges have risen with visiting clients. Pippa explained the new 'phone-based model' that West Norfolk Befriending has taken on. Instead of fortnightly visits Befrienders and clients now schedule fortnightly phone calls, with some doing the occasional email.
With an average age of 80 years old, West Norfolk Befriending supports the elderly in society. Pippa explained to James the reasons why a referral is made in West Norfolk, she explained that in many cases retired couples move to the area in quiet areas and in many cases when the partner dies the other person is left isolated.
West Norfolk Befriending is currently funded via grants and donations including from the National Lottery and the Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk who support some of the core costs of the organisation.
To find out more or to support West Norfolk Befriending please visit www.wnbefriending.org.uk