The Connect project is about bringing people together to tackle loneliness and social isolation through volunteering. It is currently operating as a telephone befriending project, where a volunteer is matched with a person who has been identified as socially isolated in the Midlothian area. Most of the clients we work with are older people. Due to Covid-19, there is currently no face-to-face contact between volunteers and clients, as many of our clients are frail and physically vulnerable.
What is befriending?
Befriending is about offering support and companionship to people that need it most. It can result in more opportunities for people to get involved in their local community and often leads to improvements in self-esteem, social connectedness and general well-being. Befriending requires a friendly listening ear, patience, the ability to empathise and a non-judgemental attitude. Volunteers are offered relevant training such as dementia and mental health awareness, plus regular support and supervision.
Does it make a difference?
The clients we work with benefit immensely from the input of volunteers and report that their feelings of isolation are reduced as a result of the befriending relationship. Volunteers also give very positive feedback about the role and frequently remain involved with the project well beyond the initial befriending match.
For more information about Connect, contact Naomi.