Can You Offer Friendship To Someone Battling Loneliness?

Wimbledon Guild is looking for befriending volunteers

Wimbledon Guild is appealing for volunteers as part of National Befriending Week 2016, which runs until Tuesday.

The charity is appealing for volunteers to come forward who may be able to offer friendship to someone in Merton who is battling loneliness or isolation.

The Wimbledon Guild team have highlighted Mitcham as the area that most needs help and would like to hear from anyone who may be able to spare an hour or more a week to support an isolated or lonely member of the community.

Befriending Week aims to raise awareness of the increasing issue of loneliness in our society, and to promote the work of befriending services across the UK.

Research has shown that loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Figures reveal that social isolation is harmful to health and that lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It has been shown to be worse for health than other well-known risk factors, such as obesity and physical inactivity.

Wimbledon Guild volunteer Elena Vaquero moved to the UK from Spain and shortly afterwards while her husband was working abroad decided she would volunteer to become a befriender with the charity.

Chief Executive of Wimbledon Guild, Wendy Pridmore, said: "We really can't understate the importance of the work that our befriending volunteers do. The support and friendship that they offer in breaking the isolation and loneliness that some people experience is vital. But we need more people to come forward and pledge an hour or more a week to help others.

“We would particularly like to hear from people who could help in the Mitcham area.”

Many of the befriending volunteers have found that helping others has enriched their lives.

Elena, aged 47, from Wimbledon, said: "Befriending has changed my life. I now have a friend who I enjoy being with. I help with practical things like shopping online, we cook together. We have a connection.

“At first I thought this would benefit me and help me to understand the community I had moved to. But we have both benefited from this. We have built a relationship and our emotional wellbeing has been enhanced.”

The Guild has launched a social media campaign to highlight the benefits of befriending for both volunteer and the person in need.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering can contact Wimbledon Guild on 020 8946 0735 or visit for more information.

November 3, 2016