The story of CHAIN 1977 -2012

by Ron Rowlands

Befriending  Scheme

 It was in June 1997 when the management committee agreed to a suggestion from The Hungerford Surgery to explore the possibility of setting up a formal ‘Befriending Scheme’.

The Scheme needed a ‘Befrienders Administrator’ to organise the inevitable paperwork, recruit befrienders etc . and the local health authority agreed to advertise locally for someone to fill the post.   They were fortunate in recruiting Pat Honeybone who, after an interview by Social Services and  meeting doctors from Hungerford surgery was duly appointed.  She then had to attend a Counselling course.  She also had to be vetted by the police (as did all befrienders joining the scheme).

Having cleared all the preliminary hurdles, Pat’s task was to recruit reliable befrienders, arrange suitable courses and make arrangements for them to be vetted..  She soon managed to find the befrienders but finding people to be befriended proved more difficult.

It is recorded in a Committee minute dated January 1998 that Pat and Betty Grant, the Office Manager at the time, felt let down by lack of referrals from the surgery.  However, albeit in a small way, the scheme did eventually get going and for some years regular help and assistance was given on a ‘one to one’ basis to about a dozen  people needing help, and many long term friendships came about.  Most, but not all, of those needing befriending, were elderly.

Pat recalls befriending a young person who was trying to recover from drug abuse. There were also medicine collections for a one parent mum with a small baby and several granny sit-ins between change–over of paid carers.  One refusal had to be the request by an elderly lady for the befriender to cut her toe nails ‘not allowed’ !

In May 2000 Pat passed the job of Coordinator to Brenda Abrahams when the number needing befrienders was just six and in 2004 Brenda passed the job to Noreen O’Grady.  Noreen gave up the job in  September 2005 and it is recorded ‘no need at the moment’ (for a replacement).

Although numbers were small, those befriended by this scheme were undoubtedly helped in many ways and it is known that contact between some original befrienders and befriended continues still, on an individual basis, in 2012.