7 years on in our mission to combat loneliness
23rd February 2019 is a very special day for us here at Cyril Flint Befrienders as it marks 7 years since we became a registered charity! It is also a chance to reflect on the past 7 years, the work the charity has done, the incredible people we’ve met along the way and those who are still such a vital part of our work today.
Our story began with a gentleman named Cyril Flint, who revealed to his care worker that he was about to spend his 23rd Christmas alone since the passing of his wife. His story was shared in the local Sale & Altrincham Messenger and over 100 people responded inviting Cyril to spend Christmas with them and their family. From the outset, the support we have had from the local community has been incredible; so many people have been so generous with their time, committing to volunteering for an hour a week to help combat isolation and loneliness in the community. Many volunteers have managed to commit to volunteers despite having a very busy family life and work commitments, others have had more spare time and have been able to extend their visits to be outings or longer get together. All are passionate about helping reduce loneliness in their community.
Each friendship is truly valued by the older people we help and that is so evident in the wonderful feedback we receive, one of my most recent favourites being from Edna who said before she met her Cyril Flint Befriender ‘I never thought I would have a best friend again’.
How we do it
Our mission as a charity is to combat social isolation and loneliness in older people by offering a one to one befriending service. It’s a simple service model, but the results are so far reaching and in 2018 93% of our older people advised that they felt less lonely as a result of having a befriender and 77% felt less isolated from their community. It is our hope that not only are we combatting social isolation and loneliness, we’re also creating stronger, more connected communities, one where older people don’t feel ‘forgotten about’ or ‘no longer needed’.
We’ve seen some incredible friendships form from Beryl and Tracey and their shared loved of nature, reading and anything Manchester City! To Lydia and Maureen, their trips to the allotments and Maureen re-kindling her love of the sewing machine; to Brian and Paul and their weekly trips out; to Dorothy and Caroline and all the new cuisines Dorothy has sampled since their friendship began! Just like our everyday friendships, each friendship is different and there is nothing better than hearing a once lonely older person, speaking so fondly and so excitedly of what they have been doing with their befriender! In fact, the visits have such an impact that 50% of our older people advise that having a befriender has boosted their self-esteem, as it makes such a difference knowing someone is visiting out of choice, rather than as a paid professional, demonstrating that friendship really can make a huge difference to people’s lives.
We don’t have the tools or medical experience to measure, but we are hopeful that as each friendship helps to reduce an older person’s loneliness, it will also help to ward off the harmful impact loneliness can have on a person’s physical and mental health including early onset of Dementia, cognitive decline and putting people at a higher risk of the onset of disability.*
Looking to the future
It is extremely rewarding to be part of a charity that sees so much good happening on a local level, to hear of friendships and the adventures that people have had together and to see visible changes in older people as a result of having a new friend. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us in our journey so far, our volunteers, our fundraisers, grant providers and everyone who has helped us to raise awareness, we simply could not have done it without you! Here’s to many more birthdays and hundreds more friendships!
If you would like to find out more about getting involved with Cyril Flint Befrienders visit our website here: www.cyrilflint.org
We are really keen to make links with local individuals, organisations and business who can complete fundraising activities for us, no matter how large or small, one off or as an annual event. All will help in raising awareness of our work, the issue of loneliness and help raise much needed funds to keep us operating and reaching more lonely or isolated older people. More info available by clicking here.
Or email [email protected]
If you know an older person who lives in Trafford or South Manchester, would benefit from a new friend, please tell them about our service, or with their permission, make a referral here.