From 1-7 November, charities across the UK will be celebrating National Befriending Week. The theme of this year’s event is ‘befriending is support’.
Epilepsy Action’s Befriending service matches users with a friendly volunteer for regular chats either online or by phone.
Befriending matches a person in need with a volunteer with similar interests so they have something in common. They then speak weekly at the same time and day over the phone or online. It is for anyone affected by epilepsy who is over 18.
To celebrate Befriending Week we spoke to some of our users and volunteers.
Before using the Befriending Service, AJ was very lonely.
“Befriending has helped me to find myself again and has given me hope back. I have learnt how to respect myself and how to adapt my life to be more epilepsy friendly.
“It has taken me time but I feel like a different person now, I still have seizures but I feel in a much better place and like I have my sense of humour back.”
Volunteer Adam gained the confidence to talk to her family members about their epilepsy by joining the befriending team.
She says: “Learning about epilepsy has given me the confidence to speak up about my families’ experiences without fear of being judged.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people. I am a natural humanitarian and enjoy aiding others in any way I can. I believe my family’s unique experience with epilepsy together with my positive attitude can make a difference to the lives of our service users.”
Chris recently celebrated one year of being a befriending volunteer.
He chose to become a volunteer because he had experienced bullying, social isolation and mental health problems due to his own epilepsy.
He says: “As a volunteer, the befriending service offers a good range of resources, dedicated, trained staff and supervision. We also get the chance to meet other volunteers.”
If you are interested in becoming a Befriender or would like to receive support, find out more at Befriending – Epilepsy Action