A team of volunteers are transforming the lives of lonely elderly people thanks to funding by Hammersmith & Fulham Council – and it all starts by recognising the importance of a friendly chat.
Bishop Creighton House in Fulham, has been running the befriending service for about 15 years and now regularly supports about 250 people aged over 60 in the borough.
Homeline befriending service is about 60 per cent funded by H&F Council.
“We know Homeline and other services run by charities in Hammersmith & Fulham make a massive difference to people’s lives, said Cllr Vivienne Lukey, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care.
“This is why we do everything we can to support them and many others in the borough who do such compassionate and vital work.”
Older peoples’ service manager Joy Houghton-Brown said the services they provide in H&F are vital.
“Isolation among the elderly is a huge problem, even people in sheltered housing get about one call a week from a warden and carers can have so little time,” she said.
“People say they feel happier and safer when they are receiving visits by befrienders but the big difference they say it makes is that there’s someone keeping an eye on them, someone who cares about them.”
The charity’s Homeline volunteers help people in a variety of ways, most popular being regular telephone calls, from one to seven days a week.
More than 100 people also receive home visits, sometimes to help with difficult tasks, such as complicated paperwork, and other times just to go for a coffee.
Volunteers also call or visit people in hospital and arrange Christmas parties and other regular social events such as bingo or fish and chip lunches, including laying on transport.
The charity’s befriending service, based at Bishop Creighton House in Lillie Road, Fulham, has about 80 volunteers but it is always in need of more. Email Miriam Baines at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 020 7385 9689 if you can help.
Bishop Creighton House, a registered charity, also runs a community centre, handyman service, home adaptations programme and other help.
H&F Connect 55+ is another service run in partnership with H&F Council which also runs befriending but focuses on social events for older people. Email Marianne at mmandujano’crightonhouse.org or call her on 020 7385 9689 to find out more.
Margaret has lived alone in sheltered accommodation for more than 10 years. Before meeting her befriender Maud she was never able to leave the house in her wheelchair.
She was referred to Homeline by the charity’s Community Rehab Team after a dangerous fall and a long hospital stay affected her mobility and confidence.
Maud takes Margaret for weekly trips to the park, along the Thames and for tea at a local café.
I’ve had good conversations with Maud,” said Margaret, 97.
“It’s been the only time I’ve managed to get out too. I’ve really enjoyed going for tea and seeing the park again.”
Maud said she found the experience just as rewarding.
“I’ve had a great experience of volunteering seeing Margaret,” she said.
“She is a very positive person despite the fact that she is stuck in one room and I like to be able to take her out and let her get fresh air and a change of scene. It is very rewarding.”