Befriending charity Friends for Life secures vital grant to support isolated elderly people


January 4 2023

Bedford charity Friends for Life, which provides a much needed befriending service to elderly and isolated care home residents, is aiming to triple the number of people it can support thanks to a major grant from the Harpur Trust.

The funding has enabled them to appoint a new general manager this month (January) to drive ambitious plans to boost the number of volunteers who can visit lonely residents living in the Borough’s care homes.

Friends for Life which currently has 50 volunteer befrienders is also embarking on plans to broaden its range of outreach activities.

New GM, Jane Eimermann, brings with her a wealth of experience from other charities and will lead the charity’s small team of staff and volunteers.

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Terri Harrington, welcomed the £65,000 grant funding which is phased over three years: “This funding from the Harpur Trust has really helped us to step up our plans. It will make an enormous difference to us and to the people who need us.

“We know there are hundreds of older people in local care homes who would benefit from our befriending and other services. With more volunteers we can begin to reach them and provided much needed support to enrich what can be very lonely lives.

“The impact of the pandemic in the last couple of years has added to the social isolation experienced by so many older people who have no family or close friends to visit them. Our volunteers provide a lifeline service to bring a friendly face into their world.”

Call for volunteers

Friends for Life is now aiming to grow its volunteer numbers to be able to support up to 180 older people by 2025.

Its volunteers focus on befriending those in care homes in the Bedford area, who may often have dementia and often have no family or friends to visit them.

As well as its befriending service, over the last couple of years FFL has also introduced a rolling programme of poetry reading and Music for Memory sessions as well as arranging for robotic animals and creative materials to be made available to the residents. Future plans include increasing the number of schools they work with, boosting the cross-generational work which we know benefits both the school children and residents.

Information about opportunities to become a volunteer can be found at Get Involved » Friends For Life Bedford or contact volunteer co-ordinator Pauline Carter