December 9 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 13, 2013
An eager new band of volunteers yesterday began a journey to brighten up the lives of vulnerable people across the city, as part of the Norwich Evening News’ A Friend in Need campaign.
A Friend in Need is a campaign run by the Norwich Evening News and Voluntary Norfolk to increase the number of volunteer befrienders in the city.
Inspired by the tragic case of a Lakenham man found dead at home in January 2012, who may have been dead for months before being discovered, the campaign aims to reduce loneliness and isolation by pairing vulnerable people with volunteers.
Not all the clients on Voluntary Norfolk’s books are at risk, but all benefit greatly from spending a couple of hours a week with a befriender.
A Friend in Need this year won high-profile backing from Norfolk coroner William Armstrong, and its impact on the city has been recognised with it being named Community Campaign of the Year at the EDF Energy East of England Media Awards in February 2013. To find out more, call Voluntary Norfolk on 01603 614474.
Nearly 150 people have agreed to give up their time to help someone less fortunate since we launched our befriending campaign last June.
But with more people asking for help, the group of volunteers who completed their training at Voluntary Norfolk headquarters yesterday will meet just a fraction of demand, says the charity.
And you can help – by giving up just two hours a week.
The new volunteers, who come from all over the city and a variety of different backgrounds, signed up for reasons ranging from altruism to career development.
Among them was Nigerian biomedicine student Jonathan Ogwunte, who decided to put his volunteering experience to use by becoming a befriender.
“I do a lot of volunteering because I feel it is necessary,” said the 24-year-old. “The most important thing is to interact with people and know how people feel.”
Mr Ogwunte, of Earlham Road. hopes that volunteering will give him an edge in applying for a medical degree after graduation next summer.
Fellow volunteer and mum-of-three Naomi Stumpf, was advised to sign up after a careers event at the Forum, and hopes volunteering will give her an edge as she looks for work.
“I need something that will fit with school hours and could be a step into a career,” said the 36-year-old of Blithewood Gardens, Sprowston.
“I also want to feel good about being there for somebody who might not have anybody else.”
Volunteer Laura Gambling, 56 and a former legal secretary, added: “I’m at an age where I’m not of interest to employers, and a friend of mine suggested volunteering. I’d like to think it could lead to paid work.”
Volunteering manager Andrew Morter said new volunteers were needed to meet rising demand.
“It’s fantastic that these new volunteers have joined us, but demand is always outstripping supply. This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
“But they will help to end social isolation in parts of the city.
“Just an hour a week doing something the befriender and client enjoy – it’s hard to put a price on that but it’s may probably the most important thing that’s happened to that person that week. What the volunteers do is priceless.”