Compassionate Neighbours project looks to support more local people

Pam, 80, from Harlow, was referred to the Compassionate Neighbours scheme after the death of her husband Del in September 2018. Pam had been referred to the scheme because of her complex health issues, which were being affected by the loss of her husband.

Following an initial assessment, Compassionate Neighbour Sylvy, 75, from Harlow, was matched with Pam. Sylvy’s husband had also recently died which meant they had this in common. Sylvy started visiting Pam on a weekly basis. “We just clicked straight away,” said Sylvy. “We both lost our husbands last year and I know that we can talk about them together and it’s ok just to talk.”

Pam admits she was feeling lonely, as she had little by way of a support network. Her sister-in-law use to visit every other week – and she has her nine year-old dog Jesse for company – but she didn’t get out or see anyone else. “I was feeling really down before I met Sylvy. Sylvy is my Compassionate Neighbour, but she’s also my friend. The Compassionate Neighbours is a marvellous scheme, bringing friendship into people’s lives.”

The Compassionate Neighbours scheme is currently supporting more than 100 people who are socially isolated and frail, or at the end of their life. During the coronavirus pandemic this support moved from being weekly visits to telephone support. Compassionate neighbour manager at St Clare Hospice, Stacey Towler, has also been training more compassionate neighbours, with a revised digitally delivered training programme. There are now 135 trained Compassionate Neighbours.

Due to Stacey’s successful recruitment and training programme, she is now seeking referrals for Community Members. People who are socially isolated and moderately frail or have a life limiting illness who might benefit from companionship and friendship in their life. Stacey has recorded an explanatory film to introduce the project, describe the support offered and encourage referrals.

If you are working with anyone who might benefit from the project, and would like to refer them, please contact Stacey or visit the St Clare Hospice website.

Picture credit: Pam and Sylvy developed a strong friendship which has continued via the phone during the COVID-19 pandemic. © St Clare Hospice.

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