Sunshine Through the Window
While the whole nation is in lockdown, the severe consequences of the pandemic are felt by the most vulnerable, who have already spent five weeks indoors and counting. The No.1 Befriending agency is helping to tackle this with their new ‘Bringing Hope’ project. This builds on the important befriending work that has always been done.
“I am all on my own. I have no children. I cannot go out alone, not even to my own garden, so the only sunshine I have seen in these past five weeks is through my window. They say that since I can prepare food for myself, I cannot get any help in.” – says David, 85, one of the telephone befriending clients of The No.1 Befriending Agency.
“This is what I do when Ian, my volunteer, calls, I just moan. But without this, and my friend calling once a day, I would go insane.”
“David feels bad for what he calls ‘moaning’ to me. But can anyone blame older people for being upset? No one knows when this will end. I’m just glad I can make it a bit easier for him” - says David’s befriender volunteer.
The No.1 Befriending Agency is a social enterprise that was formed in 2016 to fight loneliness and isolation among the elderly through a voluntary befriending and a paid care service. This innovative business model has earned the Agency several accolades, including the No.1 Community Contribution Award to its funder, Audrey Mutongi, and has made it well-positioned in this crisis to react quickly and effectively to an increased workload.
“We knew we had to react quickly because our normal one-to-one befriending service, as well as our group events, had to be suspended. Since we work with people who are extremely isolated in normal circumstances anyway, we had to come up with a solution, and transfer to telephone befriending instead” says Marketa, a befriending coordinator and employee of the organisation.
However, this was still not enough of a solution, since the demand for the telephone befriending service suddenly went through the roof, and people, unable to go out, needed help with their shopping, too.
“In the first week of the lockdown, I did a round of calls to my befriendees, and I got so upset by how desperate they were, with some of them actually starving without any food left in the fridge, that we went around Glasgow with my colleague and did people’s shopping for them. However, we knew from the beginning that this would not be sustainable” says the befriending coordinator.
Luckily, after securing funding for three months from the Community Fund, The No.1 Befriending Agency was able to launch a new project, called ‘Bringing Hope’. With the new funding, the organisation will be able to respond to the increased demand and provide shopping for up to 80 isolated older adults. The telephone befriender role and the volunteer shopper role have already been advertised through Volunteer Glasgow, with an amazing response rate, and the staff team is already developing a series of new online volunteer training.
“It has been amazing to see how people have truly come together and are willing to help during this crisis,” says Audrey, the organisation’s funder and Managing Director. “We have been so lucky, – while so many charities and social enterprises had to close their doors, we have been able to quickly transform how we operate and respond to the increased demand for our service. I am really proud of us.”
Would you like to contribute?
If you would like to support The No.1 Befriending Agency to reach more vulnerable people across Scotland, they have set themselves the target of raising 30k by December 2020. This will ensure they can continue to fund all the important work being undertaken. Donations can be made at the ‘Get Involved’ page of their website today: