Denise Evans is a writer from Ormskirk, who became interested in volunteering during the pandemic. When the UK had its first lockdown, she searched online for volunteering opportunities and applied in November 2020 for our telephone befriending role.
We’ve had a chat with Denise about her experiences as a telephone befriender, so here’s what she had to say about her volunteering journey so far…
How did you find out about LVP?
I wanted to find some volunteering opportunities during lockdown, so I followed Lancashire Volunteer Partnership on Twitter. I saw a post about Telephone Befriending, so I filled in the form and I was successful.
When did you first apply and when did you start befriending?
I applied in November 2020 and started befriending quite soon after that.
How was the onboarding process?
The onboarding process was smooth, with good communication from Volunteer Officers Gary and Lesley, who talked me through the role and how they go about ‘matching’ me with a client. We discussed my availability and willingness to speak to more than one client, and I also did some online training and courses.
What attracted you to the role of Telephone Befriender with LVP?
I love to talk to people. I’m interested in people, and I like to take the time to hear about what people enjoy, whether they are experiencing certain troubles in their lives, and finding things we may have in common. I knew that more than ever, due to lockdown, there would be so many lonely and isolated people who may not speak to another person for weeks on end. The very least I could do was to take a little time to chat with them.
What does your role involve?
Getting to know the client, being open to listen and not judge. That was important, as it meant they were free to open up, but if they don’t want to, that is also fine. That was the beauty of it, chats can get intense but sometimes we just talk about shopping and TV. The more we talk, the more trust they put in me, which helped them feel less alone and vulnerable.
I think it helps to speak to a ‘stranger’ sometimes over a family member, in a similar way to how counselling does, however, I always make it clear I am not a professional!
My particular role aimed to assist with the client integrating back into society; suggesting new ways to enjoy their life, encouraging hobbies and interests, discussing how to communicate with family members, and being a general sounding board – it’s quite wide-ranging.
Is there anything that you’ve particularly enjoyed?
Hearing the tone in my client’s voice go from sad, defeated, and upset to positive, happy, and hopeful. Also, hearing them talk about themselves in a better light and hearing their confidence grow.
How does it feel to have helped someone isolated in your community?
It’s been rewarding, enriching, and humbling.
Would you recommend volunteering to others?
Yes, it helps give you perspective on your own life and a little boost that you’re helping someone else. That can never be a bad thing.
Refer Someone for Support
Anyone can ask for a telephone befriender, for themselves or someone they know who may be feeling lonely (please seek their permission first), by calling 01772 416 417 or online at Community Support Befriending Referrals.