Visiting Friends support

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

This initiative tackles social isolation and support to maintain independence through a blend of timebank support, befriending and a focus on person centred outcomes.

Person of 90, isolated within her community since the death of husband, struggling with long term and deteriorating condition; feeling lonely and unable to cope with her garden yet resistant to ‘giving up’ and moving into care.


What you did?

  • As a 90 year-old, life-long resident of Helensburgh and a former school dinner lady, M.M raised her and own family whilst caring for generations of primary school kids. M.M. had been a very active member of the community and spent many happy years with her husband in Helensburgh. This year, after 60 years of marriage she lost her husband. He had helped her a great deal in the house as in recent years she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, a condition which is severe and worsening. Her husband was also the gardener, and MM loved her garden and the smell of flowers.
  • Alone in the house every day and unable to get out, occupational therapy referred M.M. to Visiting Friends. The Visiting Friends co-ordinator met with M.M. and her daughter and all agreed to start a befriending relationship. Meeting to identify the outcomes MM hoped for it became clear that not only did MM feel lonely but was upset and distressed at the state of her beloved garden, which had huge emotional significance for her.  She said it had been a source of pride for her and her husband and that he had won local awards for the garden. Although it was going to take a little time to implement befriending, assisting with the now neglected garden was somewhere we could make an immediate start. Gardening volunteers from AVA were working in M.M’s garden within a week.
  • After months of neglect, M.M’s garden was once again taking shape and a buzz of activity. The overgrown bushes in front of her door was pruned back so M.M. could see if anyone was approaching. ‘It’s been sounding like the United Nations in my back garden…they have been wonderful. It is so good to hear laughter again’ M.M’s daughter said having the volunteers in the garden was a huge help for her too and really helped to lift her mom’s spirit. Soon after the gardening work, M.M had an initial friendly visit from her befriending volunteer. ‘It’s the happiest I’ve seen my mum in a long time.’ Said her daughter. M.M would eventually like go to a group for the partially-sighted in a nearby local church. Her befriender can now help to make this possible. ‘I am so grateful for all you have done for me.’  MM has said she cannot believe how her life has changed and the new opportunities now available.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

  1. Isolation and loneliness is reduced with befriending
  2. Emotional well being is improved; a garden can be a physical reflection of how someone feels. Neglected, it was as lonely as MM herself.
  3. Peer support and contacts through timebank volunteers
  4. Practical support and help around the home
  5. Independence is maintained
  6. Further support, and social contact is available

Contacts - to find out more

Glen Heritage, glenn@argyllvoluntaryaction.org.uk  01631564839