Being a Befriender

08 November 2023

by Beth Wilson, Digital Content Specialist, MHA


I signed up as a volunteer befriender six years ago. I was matched with a lady called Margaret, her parents died when she was quite young and her sister lives in York (over 100 miles away). She’s lived in the same house for over 30 years, and she often spoke of feeling lost.

I started ringing Margaret every week, on the same day at usually the same time so she knew to expect me. Our conversations were always very simple, how are you doing? What have you done today? How’s your cat? Have you been outside today?

But, however simple the questions and conversation was, I knew that it meant a lot to her. She would often say ‘it’s so lovely to speak to you, thank you.’

Once the Covid restrictions lifted, I was able to start going to her home and sit with her for an hour or so, sometimes two.

Margaret always talked quite openly about being lonely and missing her family. She would often take down photographs in her house when she felt upset that reminded me of home. One I remember is of her village taken from the railway where she would go walking with her sister.

What became really clear to me was that I was sometimes the only person Margaret had spoken to for a few days. It wasn’t until the pandemic when I was living alone, and I hadn’t spoken to anyone in person for days on end that I hadn’t experienced that pang of loneliness before.

I distinctively remember a moment during a lockdown earlier on in the pandemic where it struck me, this must be what it’s like for older people like Margaret every day.  

That made me feel really sad.

I missed everyone, I felt lonely and jumped at any chances to speak to someone. On my daily walk, if I saw someone, I made sure I said hello and smiled at them.

You could provide moments of joy and connection for an older person. The beauty of telephone befriending is that you can be anywhere in the country, you just need some phone signal to connect.

Becoming a volunteer is simple and I’m sure even a ten-minute conversation would make a huge difference to someone who hasn’t spoken to anyone in a while.

Become a Telephone Befriender

Become a Telephone Befriender

We need volunteers to regularly call an older person and help reduce loneliness. Could this be you?

Apply Now

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