Case study: Julie – “I was feeling suicidal”

The benefits of befriending go far beyond the two hours a week volunteers and clients spend together.

The benefits of befriending go far beyond the two hours a week volunteers and clients spend together.

Julie, 71, lost her husband George to illness last summer.

She suffers from a condition that affects her ability to use her legs and the death of George, her carer, left her unable to involve herself with activities at her sheltered accommodation in Bowthorpe.

As well as grieving for her husband, she was left feeling isolated and vulnerable.

With few visitors and fewer chances to get out of the house, Julie's self-confidence began to falter.

'I was feeling so lonely, and so alone. I didn't know what to do,' she said Julie.

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'I wrote a letter to myself, saying that I was feeling suicidal.'

She showed the letter to her doctor, who told her she was suffering from depression.

'I didn't know what was going to happen, or if I was ever going to feel better,' she said.

After seeing an article in the Evening News, a neighbour recommended Julie contact Voluntary Norfolk to find out about the possibility of a befriender visiting her.

For the past four months she has been visited by Louise, who comes round for a chat, sometimes bringing cakes she has baked with her young children.

The regular visits have begun to restore Julie's confidence, and she now takes part in social activities at the community centre.

'Julie is so much better than she was. She's now has got things to look forward to, at least one thing every day to do,' said Louise, 35.

'I don't do anything special, but we sit and talk and we both enjoy it. We have a lovely time.'

The meetings have helped Julie to start coming to terms with life without George, and to begin enjoying life again.

'I still talk about George a lot. I have to,' she said. 'I haven't got all my confidence back yet, but things are so much better now.'

'If other people in my situation can get as much help and joy from having a befriender, then I would certainly recommend it to anyone.'

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