Tackling loneliness

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November 2-9 is Scotland’s first ever Befriending Week - a week dedicated to celebrating befriending’s successes.

The Social Exclusion Unit along with Age Scotland and others found that about 1 in 10 older people are feeling lonely. Social isolation increases with age and has a detrimental effect on a person’s health and wellbeing. Most commonly it leads to low self esteem and self-confidence and depression.

Even people who were previously socially active can become isolated as they grow older; for example, after a move, the death of a partner or friends, or if their health and mobility deteriorates.

However, for people receiving befriending, the social and emotional support they receive from a befriender can often lead to significant and lasting improvements in their emotional health, well being and quality of life. It also helps them to maintain their independence at home.

Since 1996 Kincardine & Deeside Befriending has been helping older people to feel less lonely by providing companionship, support and reliable relationships. Currently 70 very dedicated volunteers are giving up their time to regularly visit an older person in their home or take them on an outing.

Those who are being visited are mostly over the age of 80 and there are two who are 103 years old. Many have lost their confidence to go out by themselves and much appreciate if the befriender accompanies them or just takes them for a run in the car. Jessa Stevenson, Chairperson of K&D Befriending says: “It is just wonderful to see what difference volunteer befrienders make. Older people report consistently that their befrienders have improved their feeling of self-esteem and self worth, enabled them to get out of their home again, reduced their feeling of loneliness.”