I am a month into my befriending and WOW, it feels like a bit of a baptism of fire. My first 2 calls were heartbreaking. Neither of the clients had seen anyone for ages and were both very low and sad. Thank goodness I didn't have addresses for them as my immediate instinct was to go to see them. I gave myself a good talking to and remembered Caroline at Age UK Northamptonshire's wise words, my job is to listen and support. But did I help these two clients? I have no idea but when I asked them both if they would like me to call again in a week's time they both said “yes please”, so I guess I'd done something right!
Week 2 - One client's circumstances were deteriorating and he asked me to call back the following week but my other client was much chattier - we had a good 35 minute conversation.
Week 2.5 - This weeks dilemma was that 10 more missions were added by Age UK Northamptonshire to the Volunteero app. All were new Clients wanting befriending. Naturally, I begin to read their little biographies. Big mistake!! They all need this befriending service so badly and all massively tug on the heartstrings. How do I choose and how many can I realistically give the time to! I re-read my last blog where I said I would take 2 clients - by the end of week 2… I was up to 4.
Week 3 - By this point, I have 4 clients to make weekly calls to. Luckily, I feel like I am getting in the swing of this. The calls are taking longer than I thought they would but I am really enjoying listening to these wonderful people who have such amazing stories to tell and I get it. By telephone befriending I can have multiple clients in a way that I couldn't if I were face to face.
After I have spoken to each client via the app I write a little report, I include subjects we have discussed so I have points of reference for next week's call as my memory is rubbish. If I have any major concerns about a client I can alert Caroline via the app. It's a very straightforward system to use from my end and I am rather proud of what Ash and his team have produced.
It feels very strange listening to a complete stranger's life. They are surprisingly keen to tell you all about their lives, families, friends, and past and present circumstances. You get to know them quickly. The flip side of this is that it pulls on my heartstrings. I would call them daily if time allowed but that's not good for them either. I know I need to keep to weekly calls and be able to be a cheery voice at the end of the phone that they hopefully begin to look forward to hearing from.
I have just come off the phone with a lovely client, she told me all about her life and we had lots of laughs. She has been good for my 'soul' I hope I have lifted her spirits a little. I look forward to speaking to her next week.
I had my fears and concerns when I started this journey but apart from my first week I can honestly say I feel I am getting into a little rhythm now, I have had fantastic support from Caroline, love the app and look forward to my weekly calls.
I will check back in a couple of months' time. Any guesses for how many clients will I have by then???