Zara – Befriender
I have been visiting my friend now for what seems like years! She always brightens up my day and I do the same for her. The other day she said I was her brick! (Rock). I was touched by this. When I go visiting it takes me away from my own problems and rather than over thinking about stuff I can do something more constructive, productive and worthwhile. My friend benefits hugely from my visits and she is chirpier afterwards. Going visiting is a huge healing process for me and gets me through the darkest days when I’m terribly missing my Gran, who died a year ago now from illness. I was very close to her.
In a way, the friend I visit has replaced the caring, protective and nurturing side that Gran had. I talk to her mainly about positive things but we share the many down days together too. I feel comfortable and share it all with her. She happily shares her life with me too and I look forward to hearing all her stories. It is such a lovely, rewarding volunteer opportunity to do. On my last visit, we reminisced over children’s books – about feelings, family and emotions. She loved it. I write her cards, take in mags or fruit that she fancies. I ask if she would like anything for next time. She usually says! She enjoys talking and holds a good conversation. She always likes me to stay for teatime.
Volunteering as a befriender with Friends for Life feels good & does good! The friend I visit says things like ‘thanks for always being there’ and ‘I don’t know where I would be or how I would cope without you coming each week’. I always visit weekly but when I’m on annual leave from work I like to visit twice a week.
The care home my friend lives in is wonderful and there are no set times for visiting. I just come and go as I please. It’s a real home from home atmosphere and the staff are excellent and exceptionally dedicated.
Daniela – Befriender
My name is Daniela. I was born and raised in Southern Italy. I have been a volunteer for “Friends for Life” for a couple of years now.
We all do the same job, befriending residents in care homes, but for foreign people when they get to a certain age, whether through dementia or nostalgia, they really appreciate talking in their own language. It is a connection they value and it is something I can help with, even if they speak English.
We can share our culture, we can talk about places in Italy, their family and food…..especially food!
One of the residents I went to visit last year expressed a desire of drinking Italian Espresso, so at Xmas I visited him with a flask full of coffee, my Italian espresso cups and a Panettone (the Italian Xmas cake). Well, he was so happy and did not even want to share his Panettone with staff. Another example is we played cards with Italian Neapolitan cards in a game called “Scopa” and he was so good he was winning.
Communication is very important and gets them out of isolation. The resident I am befriending at the moment does not have much knowledge of English. He can get by, he says. We have a laugh and I interact with the English lady sitting next to him. I translate some of the banter they have and I think he is happier to know what she is saying. So, why am I a volunteer? The Million Dollar question. Well, we will all get old and I wish somebody will come and visit and be my friend in their spare time.
I love talking to people and I don’t want anyone to be isolated and depressed after you have worked all your life.
For me it is very rewarding to be a volunteer because I feel I make a difference to these “Friends”.