Time to Talk Befriending is an intergenerational befriending programme for isolated and lonely older people where we facilitate opportunities for them to connect and develop a friendship with our wide range of community volunteers spanning across the generations. As a result, we see a dramatic improvement in our members wellbeing (measured through annual reviews). We set up the Charity in direct response to a social action research project we undertook in 2012 where 94 older residents gave feedback to us on their needs and interests. We have a proven track record of helping people reconnect with their communities. We activate local people of all ages to help us address the issues of loneliness and isolation in a digital age and where their health was keeping them stuck in the four walls of their homes. We are motivated by our belief that older people should be respected and connected to their neighbourhoods, not hidden away and forgotten by society.
We receive a constant steady flow of both referrals of older people (average 25 per month majority from health and social care or authorities i.e. Police) as well as local people of all ages willing to be volunteers for us (8-12 people per induction every 4-6 weeks). The average age of our members is 82 and the bulk of our volunteers age between 20-55 years. We have grown from supporting 50 older people in our first year (2014) to 311 by December 2018.
We have a cohesive range of projects that enable our members to choose the option that best suits them. To clarify; we offer a package of:
• One to one matched befriending.
• Group peer befriending.
• Partnerships with nurseries, schools and colleges.
• Christmas events for those alone in the festive season.
• Intensive community consultation so our work is driven by the voice of older people.
• Chaplaincy meeting the spiritual needs of our scheme members upon their request.