Case Study: LEAP Project Befriending Service

Mon 6 Nov 2023

LEAP’s befriending service offers one-to-one befriending and friendship groups to older people in Lanarkshire through their Hands On Project.

The Befriending Networks member matches volunteer befrienders with people aged 50 and over, to offer companionship to combat isolation and loneliness. The project currently has more than 100 befriender volunteers, giving almost 3,500 hours of their time to help others. 

The right timing

Jeanette was referred to the Befriending Service by the NHS Integrated Community Support Team. In her late 70s, she was experiencing depression and bipolar tendencies. She also suffered from chronic lower back and leg pain, and her mobility limitations reduced her engagement with the outside world. This isolation resulted in Jeanette having very low moods and a bleak outlook on life.

Covid and lockdown increased those factors considerably, severely affecting her wellbeing.

As restrictions eased, Jeanette was matched with Alison, a new volunteer befriender. Since that moment, a ‘wonderful friendship’ has blossomed. They have established a very close bond, which both are benefitting from.

Jeanette’s character has transformed considerably thanks to Alison's connection, support and friendship. They all impact positively on her mental health and wellbeing. Her confidence has increased, her anxiety has reduced, and she feels she copes better overall.

She describes her connection with Alison as a ‘wonderful lifeline’, valuing her befriender as a ‘being a good listener, caring, compassionate, understanding and supportive.’

'Chats with Alison (and going out for coffee) are the highlights of the week, talking for ages and putting things into perspective; balancing the mind from which a tremendous boost has been gained towards my wellbeing.'

Rejoining the community

Jeanette admits that she would still ‘be in a rut’ had it not been for the bond she now has with Alison. The support and understanding she provides have helped Jeanette to re-socialise herself back into the local community.

More recently, Jeanette has extended her outgoing nature to attend one of LEAP’s Befriending groups, further boosting her social confidence and connection.

Jeanette sums up her befriending experience powerfully, saying she is 'truly thankful for Alison coming into her life. She came in at the right time.' 

Become a befriender

For more information on LEAP’s Hands On Project and to enquire about becoming a volunteer befriender, please visit their profile on the Befriending Networks Directory.