Celebration of Befriending in Brighton & Hove

To celebrate National Befriending Week, 1-7 November, the Brighton & Hove Befriending Coalition is holding a tea party for the public at the St John’s Centre and Café in Palmiera Square.

The event will run from 2.30 – 4.30 p.m on Friday, 6 November 2015, and will feature a screening of a short film as well as the opportunity for the public to talk about befriending and maybe meet some new friends.

The Remembering Today film, which will be screened at the celebration, gives a good idea of the simplicity of many befriending relationships.  Sandra, a sixty-eight-year-old woman who has mobility problems, said that having a befriender of her own age to chat to in her home makes her house feel more lived in. Whilst James, who is a befriender to a partially sighed man in his eighties, explained that befriending has reaffirmed his sense of community and that “being able to help somebody is tremendously rewarding”.

Anne Brindley, Older People’s Outreach Worker at St John’s Centre and Café explained:

“All the members of the Befriending Coalition thought that National Befriending Week would be a great opportunity to tell the wider public about the benefits of befriending.  Because it often takes place in people’s homes, it can be an invisible activity.  At our Celebration Event, the public will be able to chat with volunteers and the people they visit about their experiences while enjoying tea and cakes.”

Eleanor and Rachel smile together
Eleanor and Rachel smile together

Based on figures from the Campaign to End Loneliness, there are more than 3,500 people aged 65 or over in Brighton & Hove who are lonely all or most of the time.  Brighton & Hove Befriending Coalition was formed in September 2014 to bring together befriending organisations in the city to address the problem of isolation and loneliness.  In the last year, the coalition’s fourteen befriending groups have enabled over 600 volunteers to support more than 800 isolated older people, adults with physical and learning disabilities, and people affected by cancer. 

Sean de Podesta, the Manager of Impetus Neighbourhood Care Scheme, who is organising the Celebration Event with Anne, added:

“We will also be showing a short film by Anna Dutsch:  Remembering Today is about Dorothy, a 91-year-old woman who lives on her own, and her volunteer visitor Judy.  Every day, I see the impact that befrienders can have on the people they visit.  And I’m sure it’s the same for my colleagues in other befriending schemes.  And we see the benefits for the volunteers as well!”

Local charity Brighton & Hove Impetus brought together the Befriending Coalition in August 2014, uniting 18 organisations in the city working to reduce isolation and loneliness through befriending. The Befriending Coalition aims to share knowledge, resources and ideas on befriending to reach as many lonely people as possible in Brighton & Hove and the surrounding areas. The 18 organisations which form the coalition are: One ChurchImpact Initiatives, Hangleton & Knoll ProjectMacmillan Buddies, L’Chayyim, Royal Voluntary ServiceTime To Talk BefriendingImpetus Neighbourhood Care SchemeSomerset Day CentreAphasia Befriending ServiceGrace Eyre FoundationCommunity WorksStay Up LateLGBT Switchboard, St Vincent de Paul SocietyHelping HandsTrust for Developing CommunitiesEast Sussex Association of Blind and Partially Sighted People (ESAB).