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BESS service co-ordinator Linzi talks about starting a new service during Covid-19 lock down

A butcher, a baker (but not yet a candlestick maker!) from riding Red Rum to riding a motorbike professionally. From serving in the war, to beauty queens and dancers or a seamstress working in the mills. Not forgetting the love stories, book worms, dancing in the halls, interior designers and one pot cooking wonders. These are the stories of the people we support.

For a few years now I have been working with those who might be considered lonely through being isolated from society. Its a wonderful job, and as you can see I have met a few interesting people. Each new referral bringing the possibility of a life story that both inspires and drives forward the work I do.

In my recent blog I spoke about how heartbreaking it was to send home lots of lovely volunteers and close the weekly friendship groups at Empowerment (where BESS service is part of a big family of support). But being faced with the pandemic – it was no time to stop. In fact it was the most perfect time to launch a new service, one I have wanted to do for over a year now.

BESS BUDDIES was created in just under a week and after two weeks we now have four (amazing!) volunteers and a community of seventy five local residents we contact each week. This is a long term support network made up of phone calls, text, email, zoom group meetings and a social group chat.

Feedback from these residents range from ‘It’s nice to talk to someone different each week. My usual phone calls are with doctors or professionals about health’ to ‘You are the light at the end of the tunnel’. We have had stories of books bringing neighbours together who didn’t realise they read the same author and as life stories unfold connection is made.

This connection is what reduces the feelings of being socially isolated and in turn less lonely. The ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ isn’t just the phone call it extends to when the pandemic is over and the BESS BUDDIES team will continue to support but in person and face to face. The weekly groups will resume and those seventy five residents will be invited to meet each other.

We hear talk about the ‘Blitz Spirit’ but what the BESS BUDDIES team are discovering is that it never left some people. It just takes one phone call, to work with kindness and a bit of time to empower people to make real and positive change to their own lives.

If you, or someone you know, would like to join the conversation then search #talktoBESS. If you are interested in the weekly groups please see below.

Remember loneliness does not discriminate and BESS BUDDIES are here.

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