…. our befriending co-ordinator

As we are currently celebrating Volunteers Week, I have been asked to write a blog post about what goes on behind the scenes in the befriending project. Grab a cuppa and have a read.

As with all days, this particular day starts with a large coffee whilst I read my e-mails and check the befriending Twitter account @CarersBefriends. This is where I keep up to date with what’s on in Leeds (so that I can let the befrienders know about anything that may be of interest to the carers that they are spending time with, not so I can look at cute cat memes!)

Today my diary is pretty full. There is a new volunteer befriender coming in first thing to complete their DBS check. We also need to sort out their mobile phone and ID badge before they can meet the first carer they will be matched with. We have a discussion about the carer I have potentially matched them with, making sure that they have things in common and are free at the same time, which is often the most tricky part of my job!

There’s a new volunteer role to recruit for so I’m spending time finishing the role description and making sure that the interview questions are written.

Then on to meet Valerie (our volunteer co-ordinator) to do some planning for the Volunteers Week thank you, which will have taken place by now.  How will we say ‘thank you’? And just as importantly, how many afternoon teas do we need to order?!

Just enough time before lunch to call a carer who has been referred for a befriender. The initial assessment is started by phone before arranging to meet them in a local café to find out more about who they are as a person, not only as a carer.

Following a lovely lunch of leftovers, it’s off to Cookridge to introduce a carer to a potential volunteer befriender, which means that it’s time for another coffee! The introduction sessions always make me nervous even though I have done lots of them; waiting to see if 2 people who have never met will get on well enough to meet up regularly is slightly stressful.

However it is all worth it when things go well and by the end of the hour they are chatting away together. This is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, only surpassed when I call a carer to check how the befriending is going and get feedback like this:- ‘I am feeling as though I can cope better’ or ‘I feel more confident and have been able to join clubs’ and my favourite ‘she brought my smile back’.

My job is so varied and no two days are the same. From recruiting new volunteer befrienders and writing the training, to finding out about both the volunteer and the carer and their likes and dislikes and the ‘will they get on’ moment, to writing policies and risk assessments. One thing is certain, this is a role that can never be called boring!

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering at Carers Leeds click here.

Nikki Pattinson, Carers Befriending Co-ordinator