Fifers celebrate thousands of hours of befriending
This week, Fifers are celebrating the fact that they are spending thousands of hours of “quality” time together to help prevent loneliness and isolation across the Kingdom.
This is part of National Befriending Week, 1-7 November, which is an opportunity for the hundreds of befriending services across the country to celebrate the activities undertaken and support given by thousands of volunteer befrienders who spend a couple of hours a week in the company of lonely, isolated or marginalised people.
In Fife there are 10 linked projects funded by Fife Council and Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, alongside other services and informal befriending, working together to tackle the growing health risk of loneliness and social isolation on all our communities.
The latest research shows that the health risk posed by loneliness and isolation is comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity, and has a similar influence as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Loneliness puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and depression as well as have a 64% increased chance of developing dementia.
Befriending in Fife comes in many forms and there are befrienders for all ages. Befriending could just be having a cup of tea and chat, trying new activities or reconnecting with the local community.
Some befriending can also be goal-orientated, allowing someone to learn a new skill, or become more confident in certain tasks, like using public transport. One of the befriending projects operating across the whole of Fife is Kingdom Companions, offering a personal goal service.
Michaela Lumley, Kingdom Companions’ Coordinator said: “We know the latest research shows that loneliness and isolation can have a massive impact on health, but the fantastic thing about befriending is that we can all make a difference to tackle this.
“And it only takes a couple of hours a week, but that can mean the world to someone who is isolated.
“However, we’re only touching the tip of the iceberg in terms of reaching out to those in Fife who could do with some companionship, that’s why we are always seeking more befrienders. No qualifications are needed just a willingness to make a difference and then get in touch.”
For anyone who wants to find out more about befriending in Fife, contact Fife Voluntary Action on 0800 389 6046.