A pilot service run by Royal Trinity Hospice in Wandsworth to provide companionship for people with progressive, life-limiting illnesses living at home will be expanded to support 500 people across central and southwest London after a funding boost from the Department of Health and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Trinity’s Befriending Service matches trained volunteers with people who are living with a progressive, life-limiting illness or who are elderly and frail. Volunteers provide social and practical support such as having a chat, playing games or help to take short walks. The service also provides a valuable short break for friends and family who are caring for someone at home.

Over the past year, the pilot funded by Wandsworth CCG has delivered 878 befriending visits to 52 people with progressive life-limiting illnesses. Over the next 3 years, Trinity aims to expand the service to support 500 people. To achieve this, Trinity needs to recruit a further 120 Befriending Volunteers.

Mat Hay, Befriending Project Coordinator, said “For people who have been independent all their lives, it can be frustrating and quite isolating when illness prevents them from getting out and about like they used to. Our friendly Befriending Volunteers can reduce feelings of loneliness and boredom and provide a much needed break for carers.

We are actively looking for new volunteers and I would recommend anyone with a couple of hours to spare to get in touch to find out more about this enjoyable and rewarding role.”

Alice, a Befriending Volunteer, said, “We all need a friend to talk to especially when facing challenging times and this role is all about being there for someone who may not be lucky enough to have family and friends around. I find being a Befriending Volunteer extremely rewarding – it’s only a couple of hours each week but I know it makes a big difference to the person I visit. This experience has helped me become a better, more compassionate person.”

Referrals to the service are welcomed from any health or social care professional. Alternatively, people who would benefit from the service can also contact the Trinity directly. Volunteers need to be aged 18 or over able to commit to volunteer for 6 months or more and for 2-3 hours per week.

To find out more about volunteering, or to refer someone for befriending support, please email Mat at [email protected] or telephone 020 7787 1063.