Highland Hospice’s Helping Hands befriending service is working in partnership with NHS Highland’s community teams to launch an initiative to support people in Inverness.
Helping Hands has been supporting people in Ross-shire since 2016 by recruiting and training volunteers to provide companionship and support to those living at home, helping reduce social isolation and offering carers a break.
The Helping Hands Inverness Neighbourhood Befriending Service launches in May 2018 and will support people to live as independently as possible within their own homes and communities. These individuals will be identified by NHS community teams as being in need of companionship, or having carers who are in need of respite. The Inverness service is not just for individuals with a life shortening illness – it also reaches out to those who need short term support; this could be, for example, after a life-changing event such as bereavement or on discharge from hospital.
Volunteer befrienders, who are given full training by Highland Hospice, will then be matched with a suitable client who they will visit at home, usually between 2 to 4 hours a week, to provide help and support tailored to their individual needs.
The service will be delivered in the ‘neighbourhood model’ used by the NHS which has communities at its heart.
Rhiannon Pitt, Area Manager for Inverness and Badenoch and Strathspey, NHS Highland said, “We are increasingly visiting people who are in need of companionship and non-clinical support to do everyday tasks. The Hospice’s Helping Hands initiative has been a great success in Ross-shire, and we are delighted to be introducing volunteer befrienders in Inverness.”
She added, “The type of things our clients need help with are everyday activities which many of us take for granted. These can include companionship, help with hobbies and interests, going to church, doing things around the house and assisting with practical tasks such as letter writing or shopping. Having someone to help, for just a few hours a week, will make a huge difference. “
“The befrienders will be central in linking with the community, which is something we are striving to achieve through our ‘neighbourhood model’ ”.
Susan Smith, Highland Hospice Helping Hands Service Manager said, “We are delighted to see the expansion of the Helping Hands service to cover Inverness through our partnership with NHS Highland.”
“It is wonderful seeing the difference we are making in the Highlands by providing a befriending service in Ross-shire and working with various partners to support befriending services throughout the Highlands. Our partners at present include the Friends at Home service in Sutherland, Skye and Lochalsh Friends and Neighbours service and North Coast Helping Hands service. We are actively working towards partnership arrangements with other organisations and hope our support will enable befriending to be available no matter where you live in the Highlands.”
She added, “Volunteer befrienders are crucial to making this service happen, and I would urge anyone who can spare a few hours a week to get in touch with us if you are interested in supporting people in your community. The Helping Hands volunteers find their role rewarding and just love making a real difference in people’s lives.”
The Helping Hands Inverness Neighbourhood Befriending Service will begin in selected areas of Inverness with a view to being expanded across the city as the service permits.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer befriender, please visit www.highlandhospice.org/volunt... or contact the Hospice’s Voluntary Services Office on 01463 227902.