Time to Talk Befriending, based in Brighton and Hove, has begun to branch out west and runs a pilot scheme in Worthing but this cannot continue without funding.
Homewise, based in Liverpool Gardens, recently became involved through staff volunteering and having seen how vital the service is for older people, the company is on a mission to raise the £10,000 needed to fund a part-time manager for the Worthing area to ensure the service can continue here.
Emily Kenward, founder of Time to Talk Befriending, said: “Ten thousand pounds is a significant amount of money for our charity. What it will enable us to do is really develop our work in Worthing.
“We have got 21 befriending matches happening over there but we are just scratching the surface in terms of meeting the need. So those 21 people, we can find ways of connecting them with each other, we can actually include them in our Christmas outreach, we will be able to match more people together so that we can start making an impact in reducing the feeling of loneliness over in that side of the county as well.”
Through befriending, Homewise staff met Bill and it was his story that inspired the company’s fundraising campaign, Big Blind Run 2018, which will challenge staff to work together to cover the distance from Brighton to Belfast by walking and running more than 600k.
Emily said: “I have to pinch myself when I think about how Homewise have linked in with us. They came to us to offer befrienders through their staff team who could visit somebody once a fortnight for company and friendship.
“We were introduced to Bill. He lives in a Guild Care home in Worthing and he is an absolute gem. He used to surf for most of his life, he was a veteran in the Navy, he has got a whole amazing history and he loves to chat and communicate with people.
“Since he moved into the home, his network had decreased so having the befrienders that are regular from Homewise is making a big, big difference in his life.”
She said one gentleman in Worthing recently said he would rather go without food than go without his befriender, who visits him once a fortnight for an hour.
“We also hear all the time how people just don’t want to live any more, they feel like they have no purpose, so actually connecting them to another person in the wider community can really transform lives,” said Emily.
“We provide one-to-one brefriending through volunteer recruitment and older people who are referred to us through social services, Sussex Police, hospital discharge teams, health professionals, people who are unable to get out for whatever reason, maybe limited mobility or health issues, and that model abled us to capture and research and ask people exactly what is it you’re missing, what could improve your wellbeing, what would you like from your community, and 94 people participated and each and every one of them said I feel totally isolated, I am really lonely, I feel invisible in society, I just want someone to come and visit me at home.
“We will do our very best to find them a brilliant volunteer that will visit them once a week or once a fortnight for company but we also will look at what other things they’re interested in, help them connect with the wider community.
“Most of the people who befriend would say it’s a completely mutually rewarding experience. Actually, what they realise is just how amazing the people are who they are visiting, that they have a rich history, yet before they visited they were stuck within the four walls of their homes.”
The Big Blind Run 2018 has been divided into two separate elements, starting on Friday, November 2, with a 10k coastal walk for all employees with the head office in Worthing. Then on Sunday, November 4, half the staff will take part in the RSBC Blindfold Run at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. This will be completed in pairs, with one of the two blindfolded throughout.
Emily said: “Just whatever you can give really does make a huge difference. You will be part of this big mission that we are on to tackle loneliness among older people and you will be helping to make a significant difference with that kind of money.”
Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thebigblindrun or more information and to make a donation.