Would you be willing to befriend a person who is living with a palliative condition and is feeling isolated and lonely?

St Luke’s Hospice is appealing for volunteer befrienders, particularly in the Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich areas.

Catherine Holligan, Befriending co-ordinator at St Luke’s said: “There are many people in the community who are not able to live as independently as they would like to, due to living with a palliative condition. This can lead to a person becoming isolated, lonely and increasingly vulnerable.

“Volunteer Befrienders offer companionship, regular visits, emotional and practical support and provide a connection to the wider community. They can also support family members or carers by giving them a little time out.

“Each befriending relationship is unique. Often a Befriender will visit the person they are matched with weekly, or more often if they wish. They may sit in, chat and have a cup of tea or go out for a drive, visit a garden centre or share a meal together. They may offer support at GP or hospital appointments or help with doing the weekly supermarket shop.

“We currently have 15 people who are in need of a Befriender, and are urgently appealing for volunteers to come forward.”

Rachel Hughes from Winsford became a Volunteer Befriender for St Luke’s three years ago and was matched with a woman living with vascular dementia. Rachel said: “I visited the lady I was matched with once a week for around 18 months, before she moved out of the area and into full-time care.

“I like antiques, and so does she, so we used to visit antique shops or go to plant nurseries and have a cup of tea and slice of cake while we were out. We had some good laughs and we became friends. It made me feel good to know I was helping her to get out and about and also giving her husband a couple of hours to himself each week.

“I always say that volunteering is a selfless but also a selfish act, as you help others but it also makes you feel good at the same time. If you have a few spare hours a week and like to help others then I can definitely recommend being a Befriender.”

John has been a Befriender with St Luke’s for over three years. He says his visits made a big difference to the person he was matched with: “I remember the smile on his face when I arrived to take him to the pub. It was the first time in 18 months that he’d been able to get to the pub, which is a long wait for someone who used to go to the pub daily.”

Meanwhile Jim has found that becoming a Volunteer Befriender for St Luke’s has really benefited his life too. He said: “There is a sense of purpose to the day, just going out and sharing part of the day with someone else, not for financial gain but that warm feeling of doing something for and with someone else. There is something in sharing and experiencing, being part of someone’s life that feels more meaningful as a befriender than my normal day to day interactions.”

To become a Befriender you need to be over 18. Matches are based on needs and abilities, likes and dislikes, along with practical considerations, such as distance and timing. A Befriender does not provide personal care, advice or medical support.

For more information on how to become a Befriender please visit https://www.stlukes-hospice.co.uk/how-we-can-help/people-living-in-our-community/ or contact Catherine Holligan, our Befriending Co-ordinator, by calling 07496 073430 or 01606 555 687 for an informal chat.