Cornwall LivingIssue #86
Be a friend
We find out more about Cornwall’s stroke befriending service as it celebrates its 1st birthday.
Each year in Cornwall, approximately 1,300 people have a stroke – often leading to life changing challenges that can include both physical and communication disabilities. Life after a stroke can be lonely and the various after-effects can mean that people are at an increased risk of experiencing anxiety and depression.
“ I find being a befriender a rewarding and humbling experience, as you are supporting those who may feel isolated and alone”
The Stroke Befriending Service is celebrating its 1st anniversary; the service helps those who have experienced a stroke feel less isolated by matching them with a volunteer to talk about their experience, the volunteers then typically meet with those affected by a stroke once a week for six weeks offering support and encouragement.
Janet had a stroke in 2016 and has first hand experience of the benefits that can arise through participating in the scheme. Her stroke left her with severe communication difficulties, which meant she couldn’t communicate with her family properly. She was subsequently matched to a peer befriender, Margaret, who she bonded and laughed a lot with. When giving feedback about the service Janet exclaimed: “This is the most I think I have ever been able to talk since I had my stroke, thank you so much.”
Janet now attends the Penzance stroke support group set up by Margaret and husband John. This is a huge leap for her, as for two years after her stroke Janet rarely ventured outside the house. Janet has also become friends with Jonathan, who also attends the group as a result of meeting John and Margaret through the befriending service. These previously isolated people now have new friendships and a support network for talking about the challenges they face.
Neil, another volunteer who has had a stroke himself and has encouraged clients to take up new hobbys says: “I find being a befriender a rewarding and humbling experience, as you are supporting those who may feel isolated and alone.”
These stories show the positive impact volunteering as a stroke befriender can have on someone’s life. The service is currently in urgent need of volunteers for the programme so if you, or anyone you know is up for being a befriender, then contact Volunteer Cornwall and discover how you can be a friend to someone who needs you.
" I find being a befriender a rewarding and humbling experience, as you are supporting those who may feel isolated and alone"