Sheffield friendship volunteer urges others to support older people loneliness project
A dual language local woman is calling on others to volunteer for a charity project which aims to curb loneliness amongst older people in Sheffield.
Wiktoria Abramowicz, aged 21, signed up for Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care’s (SCCCC) Good Neighbour Scheme seven months ago.
Now she is using International Volunteer Day to urge others to give time for an isolated, older person in their area and to consider supporting an inclusive befriending scheme designed to particularly support those from diverse backgrounds.
Wiktoria said: “I signed up for the Good Neighbour Scheme because I wanted to support my local community during the pandemic. I wanted to take on a challenge as well as gain insights about myself and the world around me.
“I visit and telephone Anne regularly. Of course, during lockdown, we could only communicate via telephone, but as the restrictions have lifted I am now able to visit Anne in her own home while still following government guidance.
“We clicked instantly- I was a bit worried that the age difference would affect our relationship, but it was the complete opposite. We have an amazing rapport, and we are very good friends. Our bond is great. I always look forward to seeing her and getting the chance to speak to her one-on-one is a highlight of my day.
“We have conversations about a lot of different topics such as our families, childhood memories, our values and identities, life lessons, pets, life events and many more. I love her sense of humour; she never fails to make me laugh.”
Wiktoria also speaks Polish and is appealing for others with an additional language to come forward and volunteer for the Inclusive Community Care Project – a sister project of the charity’s flagship Good Neighbour Scheme.
The Inclusivity Community Care project particularly aims to provide targeted support to older people from diverse backgrounds, some of whom face cultural or language barriers which prevent them from accessing the support they need.
“I speak Polish, and although I haven’t been matched to a service user who would benefit from this, I know there are lots of older people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds who would love to receive this type support.
“Having someone who can relate to them would make them feel more included and definitely bring joy into their lives. If you want to make a difference to people from diverse backgrounds, I would highly encourage you to apply and become a SCCCC volunteer.
“The thing I like the most about being a volunteer is that helping older and vulnerable people creates a sense of purpose and makes you feel like you’re making a difference in someone’s life.
“It is an amazing scheme which combats loneliness for people. This scheme can truly change the service users’ life that’s why if you have some spare time I highly encourage you to join SCCCC,” Wiktoria said.
SCCCC’s Good Neighbour Scheme aims to help the older members of the community by enhancing their quality of life. The service is provided free of charge with the basic aim of helping to combat loneliness for people over 65 living in Sheffield.
SCCCC is currently recruiting new volunteers to be paired up with older people for support. A full induction and DBS checks will be carried out to ensure all volunteers are suitable to support older service users.