27 February 2017

Exeter Leukaemia Fund (ELF) is launching a befriending service in East Devon, and is on the look-out for volunteers.

The pilot scheme, called ELF@Home, is dedicated to relieving isolation and improving the emotional well-being of people suffering from blood cancers and blood disorders in East Devon.

Sue Rose, the ELF@Home project manager explains why the service will be important;

Research shows that social isolation has a significant and dramatic impact on recovery times for patients.  We also know that the effects of rural isolation across Devon add to the pressures on people’s physical and mental health.   This research, combined with the feedback from the patients and families ELF already helps shows that there’s a real need for this important service.”

ELF@Home will pair up patients with haematological conditions with trained volunteers who will provide emotional and practical support tailored to the needs of the patient. They might help with advice, household jobs such as shopping or finding other support services as well as being someone to talk worries through with.

The new service will help people like Ann Foster, a widow who receives treatment at the RD&E for a blood condition who told us why she thinks the service is so needed;

“You try not to withdraw from people but that’s what you want to do. My husband and I had been married 53 years. We literally did everything together. That’s what’s hard when you’re on your own. Doing all those jobs that you’ve shared.”

“I think the idea of a befriending service is wonderful. What I’ve found hard to accept is that’s the sort of thing I’ve always done for people. I always hope I’ll be able to cope but you don’t know do you?”

“I think the befriending service is a lovely idea. It’s amazing how many people would need it. Even neighbours wouldn’t know how lonely someone living next door is. Friends who live far away say to me ‘are your neighbours good?’ and I’d say, ‘well John next door is 80, Andrew that side is a bachelor, so he’s at work all day, the people across the road are business people so they’re out all day’, so really I don’t see anyone. It doesn’t bother me as such but then I have to think what if I needed someone?”

ELF is looking for caring individuals who can offer a few hours a week of befriending support.  Volunteers will be provided with full training for this rewarding and fulfilling role.  If you think you could help please contact Sue Rose, ELF@Home Project Manager, Tel 07841027228, or email sue@elfcharity.org.uk.