Volunteers offer friendship to those who need it most

Council-led initiative announces drop-in sessions for volunteers interested in offering companionship to lonely people.

Published: Friday, 19th January 2018

Swindon Circles is looking for more volunteers to give up a small amount of their time to offer companionship to people who feel lonely or isolated.

The programme, run by the Community Health and Wellbeing team at Swindon Borough Council, looks to combat loneliness by pairing clients up with volunteer befrienders.

The scheme currently has 96 volunteers who support over 100 people across Swindon, but the team are always looking for more volunteers to join the project.

Swindon Circles is completely flexible for the volunteer as pairings are made based on the volunteer’s location and the time they have available. Hobbies are also considered so that volunteers can be paired up with someone who holds similar interests.

Volunteers tend to visit the person in their home, but some may also go out for the day together or chat over the phone.

Tony Hart, who regularly meets up with two clients as part of Swindon Circles, has formed lasting friendships with them both while also developing his own skills.

He said: “Seeing the pleasure and gratitude from both individuals on my weekly visits has built up my confidence and allowed me to branch out into other directions, such as teaching.

“Many of my friends and family have noticed what a positive difference becoming a volunteer has made to me as I now look forward to meeting new people thanks to my new found confidence.”

Another volunteer, Donna Maidment, said: “Volunteering has been an extremely positive experience for me as I’ve learnt so much and built a wonderful friendship with someone I would otherwise never have known. Our bond is so lovely and not only have I helped her, but she has also helped me.”

No past experience of volunteering is required as training will be provided by the Council’s Community Health and Wellbeing team.

Cllr Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults’ Health and Social Care, said: “Giving up just a short amount of time to help others offers a real sense of purpose and pride, while providing companionship to those who really appreciate it. Everyone involved with Swindon Circles reaps the benefits and I would encourage anyone who is considering becoming a volunteer to find out more about this rewarding scheme.”

Anyone who would like more information about volunteering for Swindon Circles can attend a drop-in session which the team will be running on the following dates:

  • Tuesday 23 January (12pm – 1:30pm), CR2 Civic Offices, Euclid Street
  • Thursday 25 January (5pm – 7pm), CR2 Civic Offices, Euclid Street
  • Friday 26 January (12pm – 2pm), Central Library
  • Monday 29 January (12pm – 2pm), Central Library
  • Tuesday 30 January (3pm – 5pm), Coffee #1, 1 Canal Walk, Swindon, SN1 1LD

For more information, please call 01793 465513, email livewell@swindon.gov.uk, or visit: www.swindon.gov.uk/healthandwellbeing.

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