Breaking the Ice: How Befriending Schemes Tackle Winter Loneliness

13.11.2023

Many individuals in the UK experience feelings of isolation during the winter months. In fact, studies have shown that 1 in 4 adults feel lonely some or all of the time, during the cold season. When the temperature drops and the days aren’t as long, it can be a challenge to connect with others.

 

Local befriending services help people that may be struggling, to find companionship and emotional support. A person’s life quality can be significantly improved by having someone to connect with.

 

Two’s Company Befriending scheme

 

At Linking Lives, we don’t want anyone to feel alone. Our aim is to help those who are experiencing loneliness, feel more connected. We provide useful advice, and training for our volunteers, and of course, we encourage the use of our Two’s Company Befriending scheme.

 

Our programme pairs up someone who seeking companionship with one of our volunteers. The service has gained popularity over the recent years, offering a friendly ear to those experiencing feelings of loneliness.

 

We also partner with a number of local churches which provides people with a chance to connect. This gives those who feel isolated a stepping stone to becoming a part of their community. Our befriending sessions are conducted either as home visits, phone calls or a hybrid of the two.

 

Valuable connections

 

Those who make use of befriending schemes are usually seeking a sense of companionship, that they may, for whatever reason, have lost at some point. Such schemes provide much-needed comfort during the time of the year when socialising is naturally much harder.

 

What we love to see, is that these connections regularly continue past the winter months, often forming lasting friendships. Having this valuable company can significantly improve mental health and eliminate feelings of isolation.

 

Creates volunteer opportunities

 

Befriending services present opportunities to lend a helping hand in your local community. As a volunteer, you can learn valuable communication techniques while also enhancing social awareness. These can then be applied in areas of your life, even your career. But not just that, offering your time and support to someone who would normally spend wintertime alone is extremely rewarding.

 

Engaging with the local community

 

For those who are unable to leave their homes, befriending schemes create a way to still feel connected to the local community. Elderly people don’t always have the chance to be social. Having a companion helps them to still remain socially engaged and emotionally supported. Engaging with someone from the local community can instil a feeling of belonging and purpose, which has a positive impact on their mental health.

 

Encourages more social activities

 

Many people don’t feel comfortable doing things alone, 8 million people in the UK struggle with social anxiety. A cosy visit to a coffee shop or a festive event is usually much more enjoyable with the company of someone else. Having that support can also increase confidence, which makes socialising with others, much easier.

 

Meeting someone different

 

Our dedicated volunteers come from all walks of life. Through Two’s Company Befriending, connections are possible between individuals who may not have otherwise crossed paths. Building these connections can be just as fulfilling for both parties. Sharing experiences and conversations can be a great way to see the world through someone else perspective.

 

Summary

 

Befriending schemes are extremely valuable, especially to those experiencing loneliness this winter. Socialising can be much harder as the temperature drops. Two’s Company Befriending works by matching volunteers with a person in need of companionship and support.

 

Sessions usually consist of home visits, phone calls or even be a combination of both. Having this companionship can significantly increase the mental health of a person. Loneliness is complex and can be heightened during the winter, befriending schemes are simple, yet extremely effective at creating valuable connections.

 

If you’re seeking a companion or you want to find out how you can get involved, and volunteer, get in touch here.

By Hannah Walters

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