Age Concern Liverpool and Sefton have space for new clients on their Befriending Service for those 50+ who are lonely or isolated.

Clients can be referred by their GP, Social Worker, a family member or friend, or they can make a self-referral. The service is completely free.

A Befriending and Re-ablement Officer will offer six weeks of support to assess the client’s wellbeing and their environment as well as ensuring they are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to. They will support them in their worries, encouraging a positive outlook and setting personal goals.

After the initial six weeks an isolated person who still wants support will be partnered with a volunteer who will befriend them.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic the volunteer would visit once a week.

Peter Davies, who manages the volunteers at Sefton, said: “The volunteer doesn’t have to do anything for them except be a friend. They can go for a walk, have a coffee, listen to music. They’re just there as a friend.”

Now the weekly meetings take place on the phone until restrictions lift.

The same volunteer attends every session with the aim to foster a genuine relationship between them and the client.

Peter said: “It’s lovely and it provides a lifeline. It is the only link that some of these people have with the outside world. It does the volunteer and the client a world of good.”

Around 500,000 older people in the UK go at least five days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone.

Peter said the story that sticks in his mind is one about a man who had been invited to a gathering for elderly people who were isolated.

“One of the men said: “I’ve got a lot to worry about in life but my main fear is that I’ll go without speaking to someone for so long that I’ll forget how to speak.””

Age Concern have found that the pandemic has brought more volunteers, as more people have the time to manage a phone call rather than a visit.

But referrals haven’t increased as much as expected despite the isolation that successive lockdowns have brought for many people.

There is a big concern that more people are experiencing loneliness for the first time and won’t be aware of the support available or how to access it, and may be suffering in silence.

If you would like to make a referral or find out more about the service give Age Concern Sefton and Liverpool a call on 0151 330 5678.

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