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The perfect match as Ripon befriender scheme brings joy and happiness

The perfect match as Ripon befriender scheme brings joy and happiness

When Danny and Janet were matched as befrienders, neither of them knew just how well they would get on.

They had just spent the morning together in the garden before coming inside for a cup of tea and a chat – they are full of laughter, singing each other’s praises and saying how they never run out of things to talk about. A truly unique friendship has formed.

Both local to Ripon, Danny (28) and Janet (90) share a background in the military which provided a wonderful foundation for their bond. Janet grew up the daughter of an army officer and worked as Training Estate Manager for 12 years at the barracks where Danny is now based.

Danny is currently in the army and works full time as a Corporal Reconnaissance Crew Commander. After moving to Ripon and wanting to find more connection with his new community, Danny decided to volunteer with Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP Ripon & Rural) as a befriender.

“It was about being part of the wider community and doing something outside of my day-to-day job," he said. “We typically see each other one or two times a week when I’m not away with work. If I go away for an extended amount of time I usually just call if and when I can. We go out for a coffee, go to the garden centre, I help out in the garden, we sit and chat, or go out for a walk"
"We live less than five minutes from each other so it’s really easy to give Janet a call or pop in to see her whenever I have some spare time."

“I just get a good feeling knowing that I can come and see Janet. I one hundred per cent benefit from this as well. There is so much to get out of being a befriender.”

Janet has found Danny to be a “breath of fresh air”, saying: “I know it sounds cliché to say but we just click”.

“Danny adds a whole new dimension to my life, it’s a fresh perspective and something new. It provides a link between the generations which is so important for your mental health. Plus, it’s really handy to have someone young and able around to help do any jobs that I can’t do on my own.”

Restrictions on going out and meeting others has left vast numbers of older people feeling lonely, isolated, and forgotten. Older people told us they go days without seeing or speaking to anyone and feel like prisoners in their own homes. Unsurprisingly this had a knock-on effect on their mood, with older people telling us they feel down, tearful, and doubtful that anybody cares about them.

Janet lives alone, has no family close by and is gradually losing her sight, but says having Danny just around the corner has been “enormously positive”: “I just know that the day will be a good day because I’m seeing Danny. The more elderly people that can have a befriender, the better they will be.”

With a survey showing 94% of clients expressing a rise in their wellbeing, feeling much less lonely, HELP intends to continue to play its best hand in continuing to improve their quality of life.