We recruit volunteer befrienders on a regular basis to help people with dementia live as well as possible in their own homes and local communities.
Florence and Charlie’s Story
Charlie was motivated to volunteer with the Bromley Dementia Support Hub due to family experience of dementia some years ago. She has been a volunteer dementia befriender for a year.
Charlie befriends around her flexible working hours and visits Florence, who lives with memory loss, every week. Florence lives a few streets away from Charlie in Orpington.
A few years ago when Florence was widowed, she moved from the coast to the borough where she had once lived many years ago. This was to be closer to her family.
Florence always makes a cup of tea for her befriender and they have “lovely chats”, about their living in different parts of the country and overseas, amongst other things. Both of their families relocated to Cornwall for a life by the sea, many years ago. Both ventures were unsuccessful and they have discussed this experience at length. Florence always has lots to say and has an excellent memory of her family’s adventures.
Another positive is that Florence is very keen on Charlie’s dog, Betsy, who stays in the garden during visits.
As a befriender, Charlie is giving Florence the confidence to feel more positive about her new home and to get to know her area a bit more. In October, they both attended the ‘Big Birthday Street Party’, a celebration for the Bromley dementia community held at Crofton Halls Orpington. They intend to venture out again together in the Spring.
“Charlie is a very nice lady and I look forward to her little visits. It’s just lovely to see her.”
“I have absolutely loved volunteering from the second I started. Florence and I spend time together each week talking and laughing. She never lets me leave without telling me how much she looks forward to our meetings each week, which makes me so happy.”
About the Bromley Dementia Befriending Service
The Bromley Dementia Support Hub Befriending Service supports people with dementia to stay active, interact with others and live as well as possible with dementia. The service provides people with dementia with social interaction and support to increase their confidence and ability to live in their own homes and local community.
Activities will be specific to the assessed needs of the person with dementia and will be decided with their agreement. They could include:
- support to continue with hobbies and personal interests or to discover new ones
- support to participate in local leisure and community activities
- support to carry out day-to-day activities such as a walk in the park or a shopping trip
- providing a break and respite from caring duties for family and friend carers.
Reasons to become a Volunteer Dementia Befriender
As well as contributing your time and experience to improve the lives of people living with dementia, you may benefit through:
- increased confidence
- an opportunity to learn new skills and boost work opportunities
- giving something back to your local community
- a feeling that you are making a difference.
What we need from our Volunteer Dementia Befrienders
We need you to:
- have patience and empathy
- be committed to delivering a high quality service
- commit time on a regular basis
- have good communication and listening skills
- know about or are willing to learn about dementia
- attend our induction, follow-up training sessions and 6-weekly Volunteer Dementia Befriender team meetings
- commit to being matched with a person with dementia over at least a six month period
- have a commitment to work with people from all backgrounds with dignity and respect
- undertake a full Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
What you can expect from us
As a Volunteer Befriender with us, you can expect:
- induction and ongoing training
- support from the Volunteer Befriending Worker
- peer support from other Volunteer Dementia Befrienders
- reimbursement of agreed out-of-pocket expenses.
How to Volunteer
Alan and Bryan’s Story
Alan who has recently retired, has been visiting Bryan who has dementia for nearly a year now. Bryan lives with his wife a few streets away.
Bryan was a carpenter and he is very happy pottering around with bits and pieces.
He takes an interest in the outside world, particularly the exteriors of buildings. This is because of his career in building refurbishment. Bryan is a physically active man who likes to be on his feet. In truth, he doesn’t like to sit still! With this in mind, Alan has taken his lead and makes sure that he and Bryan go out and about on his weekly visits. This was a challenge through the cold Winter months but even then, Bryan was keen to go out. They take the dog for a walk, visit the local pub or take a bus to a café in Bromley or to the garden centre at Swanley. If the weather is really bad, they play board games at home.
Bryan benefits from some male company with someone who understands dementia and has patience and understanding and Alan benefits too:
“I enjoy my time with Bryan and I am happy to volunteer two hours of my week to take him out. It’s also good to give his family a break from their caring responsibilities.”
The Bromley Dementia Support Hub is always looking for Volunteer Dementia Befrienders to offer one to one companionship for people recently diagnosed with dementia, to support them with activities in the home and local community.
The need is great and we welcome both men and women and we would like to see more men coming forward.
Eleanor Beardsley, Volunteer Befriending Worker with the Bromley Dementia Support Hub,
“Our befriending service depends on volunteers giving a few hours of their time a week to spend with people with dementia. Without befriending support, many people experience loneliness and isolation, both of which have been recognised as harmful to health. The service does help people diagnosed with dementia have more social interaction, increasing their confidence, do more and live as well as possible with dementia.”