"The befriending service 'Helping Hands' is there to support people throughout the Highlands. We work in partnership in many areas but we deliver a direct service within Inverness and Ross-shire.
Most people are referred for support as a client, when they are lonely and isolated and looking for companionship and a bit of practical support.
However in relation to COVID-19 particularly, we have had more requests for support for carers. They feel that the clients may be already getting the support that they require; they don’t have any great needs at that time - but the carers are often on their knees. The times for respite from being with the person that they love often isn’t there any longer, as a number of the day services are shut. That’s when the one-to-one support can be invaluable.
Some of the time it's a telephone call, so it's just to chat.. sitting with a cup of coffee at each end and sharing about how life has been that day, what has been on their mind and what the challenges have been.
It's always good to talk about looking forward to things and to think about the positives in the day. Sometimes telephone support just isn't working and you really need to see a person, to have that contact. In that instance we are able to offer face-to-face support, and we do this socially distanced within the home. We sometimes go and sit with the client to enable the carer to go off, to do their shopping, go out for their exercise, and just generally catch up with friends for a little while.
That little bit of respite just enables them to come back and to share again with the person that they love the different things that have happened in the day, to be able to carry on doing the caring role.
It's not a sign of weakness or failure, needing support from others. It's a sign of great strength knowing when to ask for it.
Befriending is such an informal, relaxed thing, and it's there for you should you need it. If you feel that we can help, if you’re looking after somebody with a chronic, life-limiting illness please give us a phone at the Highland Hospice and just ask if we can support either you, the carer, or both of you."