Befriending Stories: I’ll give it a go…

A joined-up approach and listening to and referring people to others in the community who can help, is so very vital.

Read about how Toni and Jen were matched by our befriending service and how a wonderful friendship blossomed:

There was something about our conversation which resonated with me, so I told Toni that I would ring again the following week… 

Two phone calls later, Toni agreed that she had enjoyed our phone chats saying:

‘If you could find someone as kind and caring as you then I’ll give befriending a go.’

I matched Toni with a new volunteer-befriender, Jen, who had similar interests and although she was hesitant initially, she agreed to the match and Jen now rings her on a fortnightly basis. After the first call, Jen emailed me: 

I just wanted to let you know I called Toni on Thursday afternoon and we had a really lovely chat for about half an hour. I asked Toni when she’d like to chat again, and she suggested in two weeks’ time.’

When I contacted Michelle at Colchester Borough Homes to tell her that a successful match had been made. She commented:

 ‘I’m so pleased Toni has been persuaded to have a friend. This is a really good result. That you would not give up on my tenant and persevered with phoning Toni, has meant that she has now accepted a befriender and I am sure that Toni’s life will be enriched by this.’ 

This exemplifies the importance of a joined-up approach and how listening to and referring people to others in the community who can help, is so very vital.

We look forward to our calls!

About a month later, I made a follow up call to both Toni and Jen to see how their calls were going. Toni said she looks forward to Jen’s calls now, although initially Toni admits to being really worried about how they’d get on and wasn’t sure that a young person would want to talk to her: 

 ‘It’s so nice to have a friend who listens to what I have to say. I think Jen is 28, when you’re old you’re not sure young people want to talk to old people, but I really look forward to her calls and Jen is always cheerful and jolly. It’s strange having a friend who you haven’t met but she makes me happy. 

Jen’s getting married soon and I’ve heard about the wedding and I’m looking forward to it as well. Jen rang me yesterday and we spoke for about half an hour, I think I do all the talking, but she doesn’t seem to mind.’

Jen feels equally connected: ‘I wanted to be a befriender with Age Concern because I wanted to help people feeling isolated during the pandemic, to feel valued. I was a little bit nervous before my first chat with Toni but there was absolutely no awkwardness or silences in our first chat, and it lasted over half an hour. We couldn’t believe it! 

I felt really comfortable talking with Toni and we soon found a lot of common ground, including an unexpected, shared admiration for the Royal Family and a magnetism for stray cats in need!

Toni is lovely and I really look forward to our chats. It makes me feel connected to somebody in a different stage of life and I have such an appreciation for everything she has to say about her experiences. 

I would definitely recommend becoming a Befriender, to anyone who has time for a friendly chat with someone looking for a bit of company. It’s a lovely experience for both and I look forward to it every week.’