We offer comfort and joy to the lonely at Christmas

Southend Standard: We offer comfort and joy to the lonely at Christmas We offer comfort and joy to the lonely at Christmas

SCORES of volunteers across south Essex are giving up there time to help those who are lonely or isolated through a befriending service.

The scheme, run by the Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services, matches a “friend”

with someone over the age of 18 who, for many reasons, doesn’t have direct contact with people in the community.

That individual could be elderly or have a form a disability, which means they can’t reach out as easily as others.

The scheme, launched in April 2012, is funded by the Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group.

Due to its success, the service now operates in Basildon and most recently, Rayleigh and Rochford.

At present, there are 101 people across Castle Point and Rochford who have befrienders.

One volunteer is Patrick Nyamwanza, 38, of Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff.

Patrick is matched with a 24- year-old in Rochford, who has learning difficulties and wished not to be identified.

He spends two hours a week with this person, where they’ll chat about football, go cycling and sometimes go to the pub.

Patrick, who joined the scheme in September, said: “I like to give my time. It’s good to think I’m helping him to get comfort and to re-engage in the community he lives in.

“He really enjoys it and really engages in it. It’s about giving time and helping someone. A lot of people live on their own, so visiting people gives them confidence.”

Patrick, who is studying for a social services degree, said volunteering like this helps him find out more about social services, adding that helping people was his passion.

He said: “Being a befriender has benefited me, as I feel I am making a real difference to someone’s life and that’s what social work is all about, empowering and enabling people”.

Patrick will now look for clubs he can go to with his “friend” to help him integrate, so that one day he will feel comfortable enough to attend on his own.

The young man’s mother said the service had been a lifeline for her son.

She added: “I have noticed a huge difference in my son’s demeanour since Patrick has been his befriender.

“He is always talking about Patrick and what he would like to do on his next visit and where he would like to go.”

If you’re interested in becoming a befriender, or want more information about the scheme, contact Castle Point voluntary services on 01268 638416.

Comments (5)

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8:43pm Tue 17 Dec 13

Rio25 says...

Fantastic service - I was only saying the other day how those cheesey family Christmas adverts must be terrible to watch for those who are isolated and spending Christmas alone. Helping others is what Christmas is all about, so it's great to hear there is support out there
Fantastic service - I was only saying the other day how those cheesey family Christmas adverts must be terrible to watch for those who are isolated and spending Christmas alone. Helping others is what Christmas is all about, so it's great to hear there is support out there Rio25

9:48pm Tue 17 Dec 13

Leon__ says...

I'd echo (no pun intended!) what Rio says above, those are almost my exact sentiments, very well put by Rio. As for the volunteers, I'm pretty much an atheist but god bless you all! Great stuff! You're going to be a lifesaver for many, well done, max applause!
I'd echo (no pun intended!) what Rio says above, those are almost my exact sentiments, very well put by Rio. As for the volunteers, I'm pretty much an atheist but god bless you all! Great stuff! You're going to be a lifesaver for many, well done, max applause! Leon__

9:52pm Tue 17 Dec 13

Leon__ says...

Btw, Echo, it's 'their' not 'there' ;o) Merry Xmas!
Btw, Echo, it's 'their' not 'there' ;o) Merry Xmas! Leon__

7:31am Wed 18 Dec 13

CHRISTMAS CAROL says...

Wonderful wonderful wonderful. I am going to volunteer, see you all there.
Wonderful wonderful wonderful. I am going to volunteer, see you all there. CHRISTMAS CAROL

12:11pm Wed 18 Dec 13

Kim Gandy says...

Great bunch of people. Volunteering is fantastic and you make lots of friends - everyone's a winner ...

"SCORES of volunteers across south Essex are giving up there time to help those who are lonely or isolated through a befriending service."

They are giving up "their" time... not "there". Come on subs....
Great bunch of people. Volunteering is fantastic and you make lots of friends - everyone's a winner ... "SCORES of volunteers across south Essex are giving up there time to help those who are lonely or isolated through a befriending service." They are giving up "their" time... not "there". Come on subs.... Kim Gandy

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