Volunteers needed to help combat loneliness in Batley and Spen

Yorkshire Children’s Centre (YCC) is seeking volunteers for its community friend service in Batley and Spen to help combat loneliness across all generations.

By Jessica Barton
Friday, 28th January 2022, 2:35 pm
YCC is seeking volunteers across all generations to help combat loneliness and isolation.
YCC is seeking volunteers across all generations to help combat loneliness and isolation.

The free service is open to anyone over the age of 18 who feels lonely or isolated. The charity matches volunteers with service users based on location and interests with the hope of alleviating loneliness and creating friendships.

Currently, YCC is receiving far more referrals for lonely and isolated individuals than volunteers and currently has more than 60 people on its waiting list.

Lucy Martin, volunteering development officer at YCC, said: “Covid-19 gave us all a feeling of what it's like to be locked down, but for a lot of our service users that's just their normal, It's normal for them to not go out, to not see anybody and to not have visitors.

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YCC hosted a christmas mingle in December for service users and volunteers.

“We have seen more isolated people in need of support since the Covid-19 pandemic, especially amongst the younger people.

“Generally, a lot of people think of a befriending service as helping older people but it's not the case. There isn't an age limit with loneliness - somebody at 18 can feel as lonely as someone at 88, depending on their circumstance.

“Now we are just trying to make sure that everybody, younger people as well, are getting access to the support they need.

“Thankfully we have so many amazing volunteers who also take quite a lot from the service as well. The volunteer might not be in a completely isolated situation but they still feel a bit lonely themselves.

Alan, a service user, received a painting as a Christmas present from YCC.

“Sometimes they are helping and supporting each other more than they realise. It's certainly not a one way process, it is for both people.”

Stephen Halliday has volunteered with YCC for around three years and currently supports two service users. He described the service as a “wonderful experience” in which he has made real friends.

Stephen said: “I entered a dark patch in my life and It really did drag me out of depression, in a very positive way because I had something that I could offer rather than feeling despair.

“I went and visited the volunteering centre and through them I was invited to go along to a training session with the community friend service.

“The first friend I met when I started volunteering died recently from Parkinson's disease, but he almost immediately became a friend, not a befriend but a friend.

“I count myself very lucky to have met somebody with such resilience. We had our differences but we were able to meet, discuss and agree on things, it was lovely. I found it was a quid pro quo, we were both getting something from it.

“The service is about creating true relationships with other people and learning from each other.

“I would most certainly recommend people to join the service, dip your toe in the water and see what happens, I would encourage anybody to give it a try.

“I count myself lucky that I have found this niche and that it turned out nicely. It's a positive experience, a two-way experience and I am lucky to be a part of it.”

Tracey Twizell, 58, is also a volunteer with the community friend service. She said: “I have been volunteering for three years now. My role as a volunteer is to try and visit my befriender once a week and a telephone chat one or twice a week.

“When I first retired I found I had a lot of time on my hands and I knew I wanted to give something to others to help someone although at the time I didn't know how.

“I find the older generation have so much to offer, both in life experiences and humour, that I find it so rewarding being in their company. They should most definitely not be dismissed as the past generation.

“If anyone is considering volunteering I would highly recommend it and I hope you are as lucky in your chosen befriender as I have been.”

If you feel you could make a real difference to someone’s day and would like to be involved as a volunteer, email [email protected] or call 07849 398710 for an application form. Referrals for the service can also be made at: https://yorkshirechildrenscentre.org.uk

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