16 April 2019

Octavia befriender awarded

Care awards banner original

On the 25 March, the Westminster Care Awards celebrated a number of individuals who devoted time to look after someone with a long-term illness or disability or provided outstanding support for carers.

We are delighted that among the awardees there is an Octavia Befriender, Riccarda Savorani, who was highly commended within the Befriender, voluntary or community carer category.

Riccarda joined the Octavia Foundation’s befriending programme in December 2017, motivated by the psychotherapy course she has been attending and interested in improving her listening and care capabilities. “I like doing volunteering in my neighbourhood,” says Riccarda, “as it makes me feel more integrated in the area I live in and more in touch with local people and places. This is why I picked Octavia, a local charity.”

So far, Riccarda’s experience as a befriender has been very positive, as has built a sincere friendship with Meryem (her befriendee) in the last year and a half. “It is really pleasant to see Meryem and perceive that she is happy and committed to meet up, even if she is not in the best mood, due to her psychological conditions. Meryem and I meet at a really nice coffee shop on a regular basis,” she adds.

“One of the most fulfilling moments I can think of,” she mentions, “is when we laugh together, maybe for a joke or a comment; I feel very close to Meryem on those occasions. I have also been able to realise that ours is not a one-way relationship. Back in January, Meryem was very close to me when I had to interrupt our meetings upon my mother’s hospitalisation; when we started seeing each other again, Meryem’s support was marvellous. Volunteering has allowed me to appreciate how much the other person can offer you and how much you can learn from listening to others’ experiences.” 

Riccarda is keen to continue with her befriending engagements in the future, doing her best to integrate them in her work, studies and volunteering schedule.

Thinking about people who would like to do volunteering, she adds “The advice I would give is to have a go and enjoy this experience to discover more of themselves. You can learn a lot, about different people’s realities, about new cultures and habits and, above all, about how important and marvellous human relations are!”

Congratulations Riccarda and thank you for the great work you do, it makes a big difference.

Westminster Care Awards 2019 video

If you are interested in dedicating some of your time to become a befriender or would like to know more about our befriending programme, please contact Sharon Imo by phone (0208 354 5681) or email (sharon.imo@octaviafoundation.org.uk). Alternatively, you can refer to our website to obtain more details and to submit an online application: https://www.octaviafoundation.org.uk/volunteer/

Riccarda Savorani