Acorns Befriending Service – January 2015

For those of you who use TRIP transport in Honiton or know about TRIP you will probably also know about ACORNS Befriending Service.

If you go to the website: and scroll down ‘News Update’ on the Home page you will find the following:

Befriending Service now running – do you know anyone who could benefit from this service?

Do you have any time to help out with being a befriender?

Help and instruction given.

The co-ordinator of the service is Carol Smyth, and Carol would love to hear from anyone who feels they would like to learn more about becoming a befriender or feel they would like to be ‘befriended’ themselves.

At the present time volunteers are befriending 15 people in the Honiton area and Carol is looking to link up 16 more (2 of whom live outside Honiton).

Befriending can take many forms; it could involve going round for coffee once a week, having chats on the telephone, helping with shopping, taking someone to a games morning at the Methodist Church, a hug. ACORN befrienders provide companionship for those people in later life who are not as mobile as they were, with friends and family living far away.

Finding volunteers can be more difficult than would at first appear. Many people don’t like the idea of the DBS check (Disclosure & Barring Service – a requirement for all volunteers working with children or in health and social care). This does involve the sharing of personal information, including proof of identity, with the Police, in order for them to inform the ‘employers’ of any serious misdemeanours, but if you do not have a criminal record there is nothing to worry about.

Many people in retirement, as well as work, lead very busy lives and as it’s not appropriate to befriend someone in the same village Carol is finding it difficult to encourage people with transport to become befrienders. It is, however, immensely rewarding and with training and support from Carol and her team volunteers are not in danger of being drawn into a deeper relationship than they would wish for.

Many older people can go for days without seeing or talking to anyone and in an attempt to help alleviate such isolation and loneliness Esther Rantzen recently launched The Silver Line:

“A confidential, free helpline offering information, friendship and advice for older people, open every day and night of the year. There is no question too big, no problem too small and no need to be alone.”

In their leaflet they state that more than half of people over 75 live by themselves with one in ten suffering intense loneliness but reluctant to ask for help. The Silver Line provides a:

“Chat with someone who cares…. It’s the human contact that gives all of us something to look forward to.”

Calls to The Silver Line from a landline are free:

0800 4 70 80 90

Or from a mobile at local rate:

0300 4 70 80 90

If you have a spare hour a week and would like to find out more about ACORNS Befriending Service call Carol Smyth at TRIP on: 01404.46549

If you would like to visit the TRIP offices, 29-31 New Street, Honiton EX14 1HA Carol is normally there on a Tuesday morning.

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