Towards Better Days: A Day with Our Volunteer

Spending time with Daphne Medcraft and Richard Fry together feels like you’re in the presence of lifelong friends – all the more amazing to think that they didn’t know each other four months ago!

Daphne was introduced to Richard following his application to become a volunteer befriender with Voluntary Norfolk’s “North Norfolk Health Volunteers Service.” He applied as he wanted to have that connection with an older person again after having such a close relationship with his grandparents, whom he had sadly lost. He also wanted to “give something back” and find a work/life balance.

Daphne was referred to the service following recommendation from her community physiotherapist to have support to go out for short walks to aid healing of a leg condition. She doesn’t live too far from the beach at Bacton and used to enjoy taking walks along the water’s edge. However, she explained that it’s quite a busy road and she felt she needed support to do able to this, as she lives alone.

Following their introduction, Daphne joyfully reports that they have become “great pals” and that Richard is “lovely.” He visits on a weekly basis and they are thoroughly enjoying each other’s company and have done various things such as going out on short trips. Richard has taken Daphne out for lunch but has also cooked for her. They are even planning a trip to Southwold!

During each visit there is a mutual respect and a great deal of chatting about all sorts of topics. Richard describes his visits as giving him a “different dimension to my working week and it’s nice to give something back.” They both agree that they equally get something out of the befriending partnership and that it shouldn’t just be one sided.

Daphne is in no doubt as to the difference Richard’s visits have made in her life, “he’s lovely – I don’t know what I’d do without him. And even when he’s not here, it’s a great comfort to think about what we’ve said and done, and to know that he’s not far away and he cares about me. It makes me feel a lot less lonely even when I’m on my own.”

Make Your Own Mark

“Volunteering is always a two-way street,” says Natalie Hickman, the Voluntary Norfolk coordinator who introduced Richard to Daphne and supports the arrangement. “Daphne and Richard are a great example of how a befriending volunteer not only enhances the life of the person they’ve visiting, but can make a big difference to their own life too! Whilst there is a lot of loneliness across Norfolk and beyond, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to transform the situation – for both the volunteer and the person they visit.”

Voluntary Norfolk is keen to hear from anyone who would like to become a Health Volunteer. If you are 18 years old or over, enjoy meeting and spending time with other people, and can put aside an hour or so a week to change a life and make a new friend, please contact  Natalie Hickman on 01263 519454 or via email.