EVERYTHING WE HAVE DEVELOPED THROUGH THE CHARITY HAS BEEN BASED ON THE VOICES OF OUR OLDER MEMBERS.
We ask older people during group consultations, reviews, and assessments what they would like to benefit from within their community. Whenever a need or gap is identified, or if we are struggling to find volunteers in a particular area on an ongoing basis, we try to think creatively about how we can help people to become socially included, rather than continue to be stuck within the four walls of their homes. Group befriending is an outcome of these findings.
Group befriending helps those who cannot usually get out without support to be socially included. It provides an opportunity for older people to connect with each other in a relaxed social environment. We have noticed these connections have become particularly important since the pandemic, with members wanting to share their experiences with each other.
Our social events support around 150 of our scheme members each month. They take place in four venues across East and West Sussex: Portslade, Hove, Woodingdean and Worthing. Those attending enjoy a cream tea and plenty of opportunities to connect with their peers and our friendly volunteers. As with all of our services, these events are free.
We also provide free transport to the events, meaning that our members can get safely to the venue and home again. Many of the older people we support have mobility issues and have difficulty using public transport, and so would not be able to attend without this service.
Whilst this work is labour and cost intensive because of regular reminders and transport, we continue to see positive peer friendships forming, which is great to witness and well worth the work!