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Contact Point for Befriending Launched to tackle Isolation in Brighton & Hove

A new service to streamline befriending services across the City is being launched this week. Local charities Impetus, Impact Initiatives and Time to Talk Befriending have joined forces for the first time to create a single place to find out about befriending in Brighton and Hove. The aim of the new Contact Point is to direct referrers and volunteers to the best suited befriending group in the City. It is part of a new project to ensure that befriending is available to people across the whole city. There is more information at www.bhbefriending.org.  Jo Ivens, CEO of Brighton & Hove Impetus, explains “We are delighted to be part of the new initiative. We know from years of experience with our own Neighbourhood Care Scheme that it can be very confusing for people who need a befriender to find the right organisation to go to.  Now, simply by phoning a single number (the Befriending Contact Point), they will be guided to the most suitable group for them.  It will also make things much easier for busy health and social care professionals to access befriending for their clients. Isolation is a critical issue in Brighton and Hove and we look forward to continuing to expand the work of the partnership, supported by the CCG.” In 2014, befriending organisations including Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme, Impact Initiatives and Time to Talk Befriending, came together to form the Brighton and Hove Befriending Coalition to share good practice, resources and discuss more effective ways of working together. Last year the eighteen groups in the Coalition enabled more than 600 volunteers to support over 800 older people, people with learning, physical and sensory disabilities, people with cancer, carers  and  others at risk of isolation and loneliness. Befriending relationships can change the lives of both the befriender and the person they visit. “They’re a life saver – they assuage my loneliness to a very acute degree. There is something I can reach out for. They replace my need for medication, for the NHS.” (Scheme Member, Impetus Neighbourhood Care Scheme) “ The befriending has been an absolute lifeline to us…..Peter’s visits give us a well needed break from each other and also something for us to talk about together later” (Carer for somebody with dementia – Impact Initiative) “I am not sure how much longer I could have gone on without having someone to talk to”. (Scheme Member, Time to Talk Befriending) These mutually rewarding relationships are organised and supported by experienced and skilled befriending organisations who ensure that that the partnerships are effective, safe and structured. Anyone who wants to know more can simply phone 01273 229005 or email: contact@bhbefriending.org. The new service is supported by Community Works and Brighton & Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, who realise the devastating impact that isolation and loneliness can have on health and wellbeing. A CCG spokesperson said: “NHS Brighton and Hove CCG recognises that social isolation is an issue for many in the city. We are delighted to be able to support the development of the single point of contact for referrals to Befriending services, which will help ensure that people have access to these services in a timely and co ordinated way across Brighton and Hove”