Cyril Flint Befrienders was established after a Trafford resident, Cyril, revealed to his care worker that he was about to spend his 23rd Christmas alone since the passing of his wife. His story was shared in the local paper and over 100 people responded inviting Cyril for Christmas dinner. It was clear people wanted to help and in 2012 Cyril Flint Befrienders became a registered charity on a mission to combat social isolation and loneliness in older people by providing a free one to one befriending service.
We recruit, train and DBS check volunteers and match them up with a local older person with whom they have shared interests or hobbies with, to encourage long lasting friendships. Each friendship is different, just like our everyday friendships and each is shaped by the older person and what sort of friendship they think will help reduce their loneliness:
We have Don, who has never spent a Christmas Day alone since being matched with his befriender; Mary who now feels so much more connected to her family abroad, now that her befriender has taught her how to video call, and receive photos on her phone; Beryl who after being relocated, is integrating in a new community thanks to her befriender; Anna, who is enjoying reminiscing and having her memoirs read to her each week by her befriender as she can no longer read them herself; Edna who enjoys going out every week for coffee and cake now she has a befriender to accompany her; and many more!
The impact a friendship can have is truly amazing and we are seeking £25,000 to help us continue the work we are doing in the local community. This would cover around 1/3 of our running costs for a year, including expenditure such as staff salaries, costs of events such as our Christmas Party and marketing and publicity to help us reach those who are truly isolated in society and would really benefit from our service. In an average year we aim to create 100 new friendships, that’s 100 new volunteers and 100 new older people who will feel less lonely. We are confident that our service is having a great impact on reducing loneliness and isolation; our latest service review in July 2018, 93% of older people accessing our service said they felt less lonely and 77% felt less isolated as a result of having a befriender. In addition to this, 77% said they felt an improved mood and 97% said having a befriender come to visit gives them something to look forward to each week, showing that having a befriender not only makes difference during the actual visits, but it has a lasting impact on older people throughout the week. Older people also tell us that it has boosted their self-esteem and confidence knowing that someone is coming to visit them out of choice, rather than as a paid professional.
We all know how loneliness can impact on our mood, but not all of us are aware of the physical and mental implications it has, especially for older people. Studies have shown that 6-13% of people over the age of 65 report feeling lonely ‘all or most of the time’. Other research has shown that the impact of loneliness and poor social relationships on mortality is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day; Lonely people are at a higher risk of hypertension, poor sleep and the onset of disability and lonely people are also more prone to depression, cognitive decline and dementia. We want to combat loneliness and the harmful impact it is having on our older generations by bringing communities together and creating new and unique friendships.
Thank you for taking the time to read our post and we hope you are able to support us in some way! If you want more information about hosting one of our Quiz Nights or Coffee Mornings, get in touch!