Aberdeen City Befriending Partnership

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

The potential ill effects of isolation, loneliness and reduced independence are well documented and can be acute, with compromised physical health due to inactivity and poor mental health being two very particular risks. The Aberdeen City Reshaping Care for Older People partners are very aware of this. ‘Reducing isolation and loneliness’ and ‘optimis(ing) independence’ remain key priorities in their Change Plans, hence their unequivocal backing for the ACBP.

Through its support, the ACBP will seek to directly address these priorities and help prevent the poor health and can otherwise result. The ACBP wants to help ensure that older people’s lives are about ‘living well not just living’.

What you did?

The recent establishment of the Aberdeen City Befriending Partnership (ACBP) – a process which was facilitated by ACVO – is intended to maximise the contribution that the local third sector can make to supporting older people. It is also a way of getting relevant third sector activity embedded in local strategic planning, including Community Planning and the process of creating the new local ‘joint commissioning strategies’ for older people’s health and well-being.

The service aims to support people over 65 who have become or are at risk of becoming isolated and disconnected from their community and have lost or may lose their independence.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

Sheila McLaughlin, 77, is already supported by ACBP partner Living Well Befriending Project and befriender Christine Coutts. She says the weekly visits have made ‘a huge difference’ to her life.

“Just having the chance to talk, to set the world to rights or to actually get out and do something, a lunch club or even just shopping, has added a whole new side to my life. It’s about fellowship. The company is great and it makes you feel so much better in yourself”.

Christine, a retired nurse, talks about the ‘precious time’ she spends with Sheila saying ‘I’m just happy to be making a difference”.

Linda Holdworth, enjoys the support of the local Parish Nursing Network, an ACBP partner, and befriender and qualified nurse Iris Pirie, who is attached to Sheddocksley Baptist Church.

Linda says “I’ve been through a lot, I have lost some family members and had some real health problems. People don’t really know how you feel inside and I had stopped going out. This is about companionship. There’s help when you need it, you can express yourself. I’ve been to bereavement counselling and the Clan House (a local cancer support service) but it’s also about simple things like just going for a drive in the car or gong to a café”.

Iris looks forward to her weekly visit to Linda saying of befriending “It’s a simple thing but it changes people’s lives.”

Contacts - to find out more

Jane Russell, CEO, Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations (ACBO) JRussell@acvo.org.uk

01224 686073