Maidenhead Advertiser

Give them a ring and get involved

Berkshire: Sight loss charity seeks telephone befriendin­g

- By Shay Bottomley shayb@baylismedi­ @ShayB_BM

Sight loss support charity Berkshire Vision is looking for volunteers for its ‘incredibly popular’ telephone befriendin­g service.

The Berkshire Vision telephone befriendin­g service, which launched at the start of the pandemic, has had ‘a hugely positive impact’ on the charity’s members.

During the first lockdown, regular calls were made to more than 400 residents across Berkshire, many of whom live in Maidenhead and the surroundin­g areas.

The call provided a welfare check, allowed for monitoring for changes in vulnerabil­ity and gave support with the issues of accessing food and medication through lockdown. Furthermor­e, the calls helped to reduce social isolation through befriendin­g.

In total, 4,239 calls totalling more than 81,084 minutes were recorded from the beginning of lockdown until July 4, 2020, when lockdown measures were first eased.

Due to the success of the service and increased demand for support, Berkshire Vision continued to offer telephone befriendin­g and last year more than 97,000 minutes of telephone befriendin­g calls were made, helping to reduce isolation and loneliness, which is often made worse by sight loss.

With the pandemic continuing into 2022 and with winter months still ahead, the requests to continue the service from members and volunteers at the charity alike has been ‘overwhelmi­ng’.

Berkshire Vision is now looking for more volunteers to meet demand, with residents who are able to spare an hour or two per week being encouraged to join the ‘rewarding’ experience.

Berkshire Vision CEO Laura Mitchell said: “Our telephone befriendin­g service is a lifeline for our members, many have told us that it really helped them through some very difficult times, and gives them something to look forward to each week.

“Our volunteers have also fed back that it has really helped them too and they have found being part of the service really rewarding.”

If you’d like to chat to someone about becoming a telephone befriender, call Berkshire Vision on 0118 987 2803 or email info@berkshirev­

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