The great­est gift is giv­ing some­thing back

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

Brenda has been vol­un­teer with the Buck­ing­hamshire Be­friend­ing Ser­vice for more than three years.

She said she finds the role re­ward­ing and wants to en­cour­age oth­ers to sign up.

She said: “I find be­ing with peo­ple makes me hap­pier and you get to learn about so many things be­cause we all have sto­ries to tell.

“The great­est gift though is know­ing that you have given some­thing back to so­ci­ety and mak­ing the per­son feel in­clu­sive in so­ci­ety. I don’t see the de­men­tia. My vis­its are based purely on hav­ing com­pany and good con­ver­sa­tion for both par­ties.

“I un­der­stand that the re­cent mem­ory is not as fo­cused as it once was, but we don’t dwell on it and the long-term mem­ory is very much still there and once we start we can talk for hours. We con­duct our­selves in a very normal way.

“We have ex­cel­lent con­ver­sa­tions and do ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing play­ing scrab­ble, cross­words, knitting and grow­ing run­ner beans and toma­toes.”

A to­tal of 85% of peo­ple with de­men­tia say that they strug­gle with iso­la­tion, lone­li­ness and de­pres­sion.

Be­frien­ders pro­vide com­pan­ion­ship and are matched with peo­ple de­pend­ing on their per­son­al­ity and com­mon in­ter­ests so those with the con­di­tion are able to con­tinue to do things they love from shop­ping, vis­it­ing the gar­den­ing cen­tre or a na­tional trust cen­tre to sim­ply just hav­ing a chat over a cup of tea.

An­other be­frien­der, Car­men, is also a Vol­un­teer Be­frien­der. She said: “I find my be­friend­ing vis­its in­ter­est­ing and re­ward­ing.

“De­men­tia can take away some­one’s con­fi­dence to so­cialise, com­mu­ni­cate and ven­ture out­side.

“I like com­mu­ni­cat­ing, en­joy shar­ing my ex­pe­ri­ences and I feel good when I have man­aged to make some­one else smile or laugh.

“I al­ways come away with a smile on my face and I look for­ward to my visit the fol­low­ing week.

“I feel that I have per­haps made a tiny dif­fer­ence to some­one. My be­friendee seems to be happy to see me each week and al­ways asks whether I will come back next week.”

To be­come a Be­friend­ing vol­un­teer, no ex­pe­ri­ence is needed and full train­ing is given along with reg­u­lar sup­port meet­ings.

Life doesn’t stop when a per­son is di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia.

Peo­ple of­ten still want to do the things they en­joyed do­ing be­fore.

This ser­vice of­fers the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for vol­un­teers to help peo­ple with de­men­tia to con­tinue to feel a part of their com­mu­nity and to do the things they en­joy.

There are 8,972 peo­ple liv­ing with de­men­tia in Buck­ing­hamshire and with the right sup­port peo­ple can live well in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Our vol­un­teers re­ally do make a dif­fer­ence.

To find out more about vol­un­teer­ing for the be­friend­ing ser­vice con­tact Sam on 01296 331722 or email bucks­be­friend­ing@alzheimers. org.uk

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