Mentoring and Befriending Foundation: Individual case study - York Blind and Partially Sighted Society

Individual case study - York Blind and Partially Sighted Society

About the project

The York Blind and Partially Sighted Society’s ‘Home Visiting Service’ offers practical help, emotional support and befriending to visually impaired adults (primarily those over 75 and living alone).  The Service aims to prevent social isolation and helps to maintain independent living skills by providing a weekly or fortnightly visit from a volunteer in a befriendee’s home.  Help offered by the befriender includes reading and answering mail, accompanying the befriendee for a short walk or helping with shopping, choosing large print or talking books, conversation and companionship.

The Home Visiting Service has been awarded the MBF’s Approved Provider Standard. The Society also has the Duke of York’s Community Initiative and consideration is being given to working towards Investing in Volunteers later this year.

The relationship

The client, Miss H, is 94 years old and lives independently in a small bungalow. She is registered blind.  She has no surviving family with whom she is in contact; neighbours look out for her and one friend visits weekly.  Prior to the befriending process Miss H spent a lot of time on her own, was anxious, mildly depressed and worried about what was going to happen to her.

At first the befriendee found it difficult to stick to the ground rules of the relationship and would sometimes put off visits for no apparent reason. However a joint visit with the Scheme Co-ordinator ironed out some of these early difficulties and since then the relationship has gone from strength to strength.

What difference has it made?

Since having a befriender Miss H has received support and practical help which has enabled her to continue living independently. “My befriender has helped me in practical ways, such as filling in names and addresses in thick, black pen in a large print address book”. 

Miss H says: “The befriending service has helped me feel less lonely”. She explains that “meeting someone new and having someone to talk to” has had a positive impact on her life.  She is comforted by the knowledge that someone comes regularly once a week to spend time with her.

Prior to the befriending relationship Miss H would become frustrated if she mislaid something; now she is more relaxed and can laugh about things.  She is also more willing to let the befriender help her – an indication of the element of trust that has been established.  Miss H explains “I feel able to share parts of my life that I have not shared with others, for example my war service”.

The Scheme Co-ordinator says: “She is a happier person, who laughs more than she used to, including at herself”.

Miss H’s befriender also feels that she has benefited greatly from the relationship: “After a period of ill health I needed something to get me out of myself; to build confidence and self-esteem.  Also I was keen to do something of benefit to the community.  I have always related well to elderly people.  During the time I have been visiting both my grandparents have died and I found my befriendee was of help in allowing me to talk about them.  She understood my sense of loss as she has seen many people known to her die during her long life.”

In addition, the befriender feels that she developed her listening skills and now recognises the difficulties faced by visually impaired people.

Project details

Name – York Blind and Partially Sighted Society Home Visiting Service
Project Type – Befriending
Location – York
Phone – 01904 636269
Project Co-ordinator – Alison Cragg