Befriending Week is a time for us to celebrate our volunteers and reflect on what we have achieved over the past year.
This year marks 10 years of Befriending Week which gives us the chance to talk about the positive impact the service has on our scheme members, the huge difference our volunteers make and the work which goes on behind the scenes at Together Co to make sure we are creating connections to change lives.
Our Impact Report highlights just how much of a lifeline befriending was to many during the Covid-19 pandemic and how meeting face-to-face became a priority during lockdown.
In 2021-22, we supported 609 active scheme members, 124 new scheme members joined the service, and more than 50% of our matches were able to meet with their befriender in person.
As restrictions eased, scheme members were offered home visits, social groups, activities and events.
The benefits of befriending
Scheme member Lee, 42, has cerebral palsy and found it difficult to meet people until he came to Together Co. He was matched with 20-year-old student Alasdair who wanted to give back by helping someone else.
Lee said: “I was going to a group for people who have mental disabilities but I did not fit in.
“There was nowhere really where I could meet people but then my mum was given the details for Together Co. I got in touch and they found me a befriending match.
“Me and Alasdair meet at my flat and then usually go out to places like the pier or bowling at the marina.
“It has been lovely. I get very, very lonely but now I have a friend I can chat to and have fun with.”
Alasdair said: “Everyone has struggled with loneliness and it is a pretty bad feeling.
“I found out about Together Co and what the charity does resonated with me.
“I was very nervous the first time I met Lee but we got on very well straight away. Our friendship happened a lot more quickly and naturally than I expected.
‘I have never met anyone like Lee before and without Together Co it is unlikely our paths would have crossed.
“I would never have got the opportunity to see the world from Lee’s perspective. It’s a great thing to do.”
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© 2019 Together Collective a Company Limited by Guarantee registered in England and Wales: Company No. 03895574, whose registered office is Projects The Lanes, Nile House, Nile St, Brighton BN1 1HW. Together Collective is a registered charity: Charity No. 1083390