Some ADCA volunteers provide befriending support to older people and vulnerable adults who are socially isolated, or who may find it difficult to participate in ADCA activities.
What befrienders do depends very much on the individual circumstances and needs of the people they help, so it's not easy to spell out exactly what the role may entail.
We asked a few of our befrienders to tell us about some of the things that their befriending activities have involved and how it has helped people.
Befriender 1 regularly takes X home from activities and accompanies X through the door and safely inside the house before leaving. On the way home one day, X revealed they were having a problem with medications, and had got muddled up. Befriender 1 was shown a bench where a large number of loose tablets of different kinds were spread around. X was taking about eight different medications at the time.
X had removed all the tablets from their blister packs to sort them into a pill dispenser, but had become confused and abandoned the task. Befriender 1 offered to return later with Befriender 2 (who happens to have appropriate skills) and help put things right. This they did, and also offered to collect the next prescription.
Befriender 1 & 2 reported X's difficulties to the pharmacy and asked if the medications could be pre-packed into dispensers for X in future, but the pharmacy was not able to take this on. So they took it on themselves to collect X's prescriptions and sort them, and did so routinely for a considerable time, to X's happy relief.
Some time later X experienced a health crisis and a doctor happened to come out to X's house on the afternoon that Befriender 1 & 2 were there sorting pills, and so was alerted to what had been happening with the medications.
On the next occasion that Befriender 1 & 2 went to to collect X's prescription, they found that the pills were already pre-packed into dispensers, on instructions from the doctor, and this has continued to be the case.
Y was introduced to one of ADCA's regular activities by a relative, and was willing to come along with that relative, but would not take part or speak to anyone.
Befriender 3 started to sit aside with Y and chat on a one-to-one basis until they got to know each other, without any pressure to participate. After some time Y became more relaxed about being there, and started to interact with other people from time to time. Later in the year Y also participated in one of the outdoor activities.
Although wishing to be part of activities, Z finds social interaction difficult.
Befriender 3 made initial contact, having noticed Z hovering outside one of the ADCA activities. Befriender 3 went out to chat, picking up on some shared interests in sport, and other matters. Befriender 3 also talked about what was going on in the group, making it clear that Z would be welcome to come in.
Befriender 3 continued going out to talk whenever Z appeared, encouraging but not pressuring, until Z felt able to come in and sit in with group activities, just observing at first, but then gradually beginning to speak to others, and make friends. Z now feels comfortable attending ADCA activities, and can relax with the people there.
Following the deaths of my elderly parents and the selling of the family home, the emotional turmoil took its toll and I was struggling to cope. The warm and welcoming community of Audlem took me in. I started coming to ADCA's Friday Coffee Club, and when Audlem Public Hall Annexe opened in 2017 I became more involved and volunteered at the Tuesday Day Club, eventually also becoming a volunteer driver.
I can testify that the Tuesday Club amply fulfils ADCA's stated aims: to help people be socially active and meet others locally, stay independent and improve their health and well being.
I observe how members integrate, and how some initially reserved and quiet people gradually become more open and start to enjoy themselves. These club days are good for the overall health and well being of all who participate, members and volunteers alike.
The same can be said of ADCA's Friday Coffee Club, the games afternoons and the Wednesday group in Hankelow.
I have visited a number of people in the area for years; some are old family friends and neighbours who now find themselves somewhat isolated, long before I heard the term 'befriending', or understood that 'befriending' is considered part of the caring role. Some of these people are known to ADCA, some not.
I first met A in Saint James's church — a lovely man, kind and gentle, recently widowed. I started walking back home with him after church for a cuppa and a chat. Then I began to call in several times a week when I was out walking. Walking is a fine antidote to mental health issues . I enjoyed his company and I know he appreciated the home visits. Sadly he died in 2018. I shall never forget him.
B moved to Audlem after her husband died and she had some health problems. She has a daughter nearby. Active and able-bodied, she comes to ADCA regularly but admits she often feels lonely, even though she has started to make friends. She has some memory problems but is always cheerful. She enjoys company and was previously used to seeing lots of people every day, so her situation as a newcomer is hard for her. I call on her 4 or 5 times a week, and walk her daughter's dog when she is staying over. She is very appreciative of all who call on her.
C is in a similar situation, a widow now living in Audlem with a daughter nearby. I collect her several times a week. She appreciates what ADCA does and is very grateful to the volunteers who collect and help her. She is quite unsteady on her feet and we all care for her.
D is retired and has complex health problems, but stays positive. Over the past four years we have watched football together and enjoy each other's company. However, it is becoming more difficult for him to have any social life apart from the care of his family. I still go to see him at home.
E is a long term Audlem resident now living on her own. I collect her regularly and take her home and see her comfortably settled in her living room. She is rather immobile and has carer visits three times a day. When she had to spend several months in a care home, I continued to visit her there. She remains cheerful amidst her difficulties and comes to ADCA regularly, also attending other functions when she can. I am very happy to help her as she finds it difficult to access the Wheelybus and other larger cars.
F lives outside Audlem and no longer drives, so is not able to get out much. His brother comes quite often to help him. I see him twice monthly and keep him aware of friends known to both of us. He is a family friend of many years and it is important for me to maintain that contact. He may show an interest in joining ADCA eventually.
These are just some examples of the people I visit. Befriending is so important to maintain, as it benefits both parties. I feel that I am in a small way following the example of my parents who did so much in the local communities. Sustained support, friendship and help means so much to vulnerable and isolated people.
I have increasingly enjoyed my involvement and commitments to ADCA and will continue to provide whatever assistance and help is required. It is so good for my own health and well being
I consider ADCA a wonderful organisation and a great service to the Audlem community. I admire the commitment of the officers, the trustees, the staff, and all the volunteers.
I consider myself just one of many wonderful and pleasant volunteers just trying to do our bit for this very worthwhile charity.