Volunteer Stories: St John’s Winchester

4 June 2021

St Johns Winchester helps older people live well, and volunteers are essential to the support they can offer. Find out below how getting involved as a Befriender makes a huge difference for befriendees and provides a wonderful experience for befrienders, too.

Being a lifeline as a befriender

Catherine Hudson Williams has been a volunteer with St John’s since 2019. She supports an elderly lady both within her home and during visits to the hospital.

Volunteering as a befriendee brings such benefits to both the volunteer and the person they are supporting. In Catherine’s case, it has enabled her to fully support someone who is frail living within their own home and has become a good friend to her.

Volunteers benefit from feeling they are really helping someone and the befriendee who feels the full benefit of having a friend to check in and chat to them on a regular basis. Catherine has been able to liaise with carers and in one case the emergency services to ensure that her befriendee is kept safe and well and acted as a life line to her in many ways. She has also shopped for her befriendee during the pandemic while she shielded at home. Catherine gained inspiration from her befriendee’s strong spirit, courage, and great humour.

St Johns offer an induction training, mandatory training, plus ongoing support from the Wellbeing team and Volunteer Coordinator. They invite volunteers to attend regular quarterly networking meetings and (once lockdown is lifted) Summer and Christmas Get-togethers. Volunteers all feel like one big family!

The transformative power of friendship

St John’s Hand in Hand volunteer Mike Thorpe befriends two elderly men who are living in isolation.

Volunteers with the Hand in Hand scheme make a difference by building up a friendship in many cases with someone who has no family or friends around to support them.

St John’s said, “Mike is a joy to have as a befriender. He is always keen to help us in any way he can and has acted as a driver to collect our members to take them to our Monday  Club before the pandemic, as well as befriending two very grateful Scheme Members.”

Mike has made a difference by really engaging with his two befriendees. He has supported them on short walks during the pandemic to get them out and about. One befriendee went into his GP surgery to thank them for putting him in touch with St John’s as it has transformed his life. This gentleman had been quite tearful since losing his wife in the early 2000’s but feels he has so much in common with his befriender and is delighted with his newfound friendship.

Anyone who has time even for an hour a week can transform the life of someone suffering from loneliness. Could you help? Opportunities as a Short Walk Befriending Volunteer and Hand in Hand Volunteer Befriender are open at St John’s Winchester.

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