Have you ever thought about becoming a volunteer befriender?

Demelza Hookway
Primary interest

Ready Friends WT background

Can you spare a couple of hours every week or fortnight to spend with someone who is lonely or socially isolated? Many organisations in Reading are currently looking for volunteer befrienders who could make a real difference to the lives of the people they support.

Befriending might mean visiting an older person who lives nearby, for a cup of tea and a chat, or it might mean supporting someone with physical or learning disabilities to pursue an interest or hobby. It can mean providing a link to the outside world for someone with dementia, or being a good listener for someone who is thought to be in the last year of their life.

Befriending brings many benefits for volunteers as well as befriendees – it offers the chance to connect with your community and learn new things. To anyone thinking of becoming a befriender, Fiona, a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Society, says: “Give it a go – it’s a really satisfying thing to do, it’s enjoyable and you make some new friends. The ladies I see, I look forward to seeing them … it’s just a really nice way to spend time.”

If you’d like to find out more about befriending, you are warmly invited to the Ready Friends Afternoon Tea in Reading Central Library on Tuesday 7 June, from 2pm-5pm. At this informal drop-in event, you’ll have the chance to talk to organisations who run befriending schemes such as Age UK Berkshire, Age UK Reading, the Alzheimer’s Society, Engage Befriending, Enrych Berkshire and Sue Ryder. There will also be the chance to meet with volunteer befrienders and chat to them about their experiences.

If you can’t make it to Afternoon Tea on 7 June, and still want to get involved, then check out the befriending opportunities on the RVA website (select ‘Befriending/visiting’ from the ‘What kind of task?’ drop-down menu) or get in touch with Ready Friends by emailing ready.friends@rva.org.uk or phoning 01189 372 273. Ready Friends is a new project run by RVA to promote befriending opportunities in Reading and encourage more people to volunteer as befrienders.