The Befriending Support Team, Leckhampton Court Hospice
The Befriending Support Team at Leckhampton Court Hospice currently has 20 volunteers, seven of whom have loyally been involved ever since the team was newly set up in May 2015.
During this time, the volunteers have supported 41 people living in the community with a palliative condition and delivered 871 hours of befriending support. The team has ably demonstrated teamwork by maintaining high levels of participation in the monthly team meetings facilitated by the Befriending Coordinator. At these meetings over the past year, team members have shown great generosity to each other, honestly sharing both what has gone well and also the challenges that they have faced in their roles.
Some of the challenges they have discussed and problem-solved together include:
building a meaningful rapport with a befriendee they have just met
finding ways to engage with a befriendee who has little or no speech
maintaining empathy and patience with a befriendee who is depressed and negative.
One example amongst many is a volunteer who has consistently visited a depressed befriendee every week for 14 months, and has, almost without fail, managed to lift her mood and leave her smiling by the end of each visit.
The team have also consistently inspired managers with their sensitivity, flexibility and resilience. They are constantly seeking new ways to respond to the changing needs of the befriendees; for example by finding imaginative ways of taking someone on an outing, or encouraging and supporting them to pick up a lost skill or interest which rebuilds their confidence or sitting quietly to be a comforting presence with the person at the very end of their life.
Another example is a volunteer who has supported his befriendee to clear a lot of clutter from his flat, tackle his considerable body image issues by starting to go out again, and consider how to revitalise his long-neglected skills in art.
We could have nominated numerous individual volunteers from this team for individual awards, but decided that this was inappropriate because the greatest strength of the service can be found in the diversity of personalities and skills that the different volunteers across the team offer, and in their flexibility and their willingness to complement and support the Befriending Service and each other.
Leckhampton Court’s Day Hospice Nurse Katherine Grace describes them as “a beautiful service from a team offering friendship and comfort to people in their time of need”.