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You’ve got a friend in me

HELPING older people stay connected and reduce feelings of isolation is the aim of the B-Friend Hub which is delivered locally by Strabane Community Project.

The essential service makes daily phone calls to around 125 older people and has become a life-line to all involved.

The importance of the project was highlighted as part of Befriending Week which runs from November 1-7. The annual campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact befriending has on individuals and communities in helping to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and ensuring member’s health and safety.

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The B-Friend Hub project is a home and telephone befriending service delivered by Strabane Community Project into the town and surrounding areas. Daily morning calls are made to over 125 older people in the town and surrounding areas by a team of dedicated, passionate and committed volunteers who receive training and support to enable them to fulfil their role in helping older people in their own homes, helping them to stay connected within their communities.

A recent report on the benefits and impact of the B-Friend Hub project demonstrated the multiple and mutual benefits for both clients and volunteers. A total of 100 per-cent of survey respondents said they would recommend the service to a friend.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the home visit and face-to-face befriending service was paused back in March. Telephone befriending has continued for all clients with the project experiencing a increase in referrals during the past six month period.

This year Befriending Week will be celebrated in less traditional ways. With celebration events and gatherings on hold for now, many of the week’s activities will go on-line.

To mark Befriending Week Omagh Volunteer Centre, which is the lead partner in the project, has designed a book of befriending quotes from older people and volunteers which captures the impact the befriending experience and the project has been having for them.

“The Little Book of Befriending Quotes, Thankfulness, Appreciation and Inspiration” is dedicated to the clients, volunteers and friends of the B-Friend Hub project. A copy of the book will be delivered to every client and volunteer during Befriending Week as a gesture of appreciation and togetherness.

The National Lottery Community Fund announced this week that a further uplift of £48k will be made available to the three projects in Strabane Omagh and Fermanagh. This will allow for a further enhancement of the project and will provide resources and activities to support and encourage local older people through the winter months.

Ursula Gallagher, manager of Strabane Community Project, and the BFriend Hub co-ordinator, Michael Cooke, would like to thank the team of volunteers who donate their time and talents daily to bring happiness and purpose to older people locally.

They added, “The volunteers are core to the success of the B-Friend service and have been instrumental throughout the pandemic in delivering a vital life line of communication and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.”

• For information on the project, or to find out about becoming a volunteer, email micky@thebfriend.org or call Micky on 07591 951928

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 4 Castle Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT82 8AB