Suitable for: Any or All Locations
Estimated costs: Up to £13,000
Suggested frequency: Weekly
Hosted by: Your church/local community
The Link Visiting Scheme is a befriending service, based in the Borough of Wokingham, aiming to combat social isolation among older people. This is primarily through home visits carried out by volunteers once a week, for between one and two hours. This contact is often a lifeline to those receiving visits, as they may have not have contact with the outside world throughout the rest of the week.
Link also now offers weekly ‘Understanding Computers’ courses to enable older people to access all the internet has to offer, allowing them to communicate regularly with relatives and investigate local activities available to them. They also hold regular ‘Pie and Pint Clubs’, Singing Groups, Bowls Clubs and various outings and special events, supporting over 250 older people through a team of over 130 volunteers.
There is growing evidence of the detrimental effect that isolation and loneliness can have on health, well-being, and life expectancy of people of all ages. The model of The Link Visiting Scheme provides a crucial social point of contact which, in itself, helps to build self-confidence and self-esteem: often leading to improved mental health and independence. Consequently, Link friends can gain improvements in their mobility, and explore options to visit local clubs, church activities and events leading to the establishment of a wider circle of friends.
Volunteer visitors also gain from the experience of sharing in the life of an older person, leading to a greater understanding of life in earlier times. Volunteers often report a sense of achievement and mutual benefit by having contact with a member of the community who appreciates them.
Carol’s Story: "When we first met Carol she was quiet and withdrawn. She felt nervous at the thought of being with people she didn’t know and didn’t have the confidence to go outside on her own. She had a few health worries and her son lived a distance away. She was spending many days alone and speaking to no one. Like many of the older people we meet she was in desperate need of seeing a friendly face - someone willing to spend some quality time with her and show a real interest."
"After meeting her we introduced her to a volunteer who shared her love of gardening and wildlife. Some weeks they would take a trip to a local garden centre then pot plants together. The simple act of visiting began to transform her life and it didn’t take long to see the results. Her volunteer encouraged her to join a local club doing gentle exercise. We arranged for the library to visit regularly, to deliver books for her to read. We enrolled her in a club that took her out once a month on an outing and she came to our monthly pub lunch. Her mobility improved too and she began to take short walks in her neighbourhood and joined her local church!"
T: 0118 9798019
This idea can be found on page 209-210 of Hope Heartbeat ©2013 HOPE08 Ltd. For more ideas, Hope Heartbeat is available for purchase from the website above.