Today marks the start of Befriending Week, a chance to highlight the important work our telephone befrienders do to help people to rebuild their confidence and maintain their independence.
Our telephone befrienders make a real difference to people affected by macular disease by offering them a friendly listening ear.
One of our volunteer telephone befrienders, Helen, was at hospital when she first became aware of the Macular Society, and decided to get involved.
She said: “At the hospital, the local blind society had a stand with lots of different information and I got a leaflet about the Macular Society there.
“They asked for volunteers and I thought: ‘I can do that’.”
Helen, who has macular disease, doesn’t consider herself as having special skills that mean that she can volunteer as a befriender. In fact, she thinks that many people have the right skills but may not realise how much they have to give.
“You only need to listen and not be judgemental, and be positive. I’ve met some people I wouldn’t meet otherwise.
“You have a lot of experience in talking to people, especially if you’ve worked in a bar, or customer services or similar roles. Lots of people have these skills and life experiences and they can use them to help.
“People need to know that help is there and they can keep going. That’s what I always try to get across. I feel like there’s a lot I can pass on from my own experiences. I’m sure that does help.”
We’re always looking for volunteers to become telephone befrienders and use their experiences to help others. If you would like to help by volunteering as a telephone befriender, or if you would like to have a befriender call you, find out more here or call the Advice and Information Service on 0300 3030 111.
It is thanks to funders such as the Masonic Charitable Foundation that we are able to continue to offer vital emotional support to people affected by macular disease.