21 December 2023

The power of Befriending – Dave and Robert’s story

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Dave and Robert have spoken on the phone every week for three years. Dave – a volunteer at our Befriending Scheme – gives just an hour of his time each week to call Robert, but the impact this has for both of them is tremendous. 

We asked Dave if he would share with us the reason that he decided to become a befriender with Octavia. He candidly shared that it was a decision that he made after his father sadly passed away. Reflecting on his father’s last years, Dave shared with us that he now recognises his father was quite lonely at times and that he wishes he could have done more to change that.  

With a very proactive mindset, Dave decided that he could channel his wishes into helping someone else. He was then – through limited capacity at his own workplace’s befriending programme – directed to Octavia’s Befriending Scheme. Here he was interviewed by one of our Befriending Coordinators, and carefully matched with befriendee Robert.  

Dave remembers how, before their first call, he was quite apprehensive: what would they talk about? Would they have anything in common? But after three years, he sees his friendship with Robert as “proof that the tool of telephone befriending can build meaningful relationships.”. 

Dave’s original motive for befriending was to work through some feelings of regret after his dad’s passing, but he stressed that this has now given way to the mutual bond he has built with Robert. The pair talk about everything from their love of football, through to sharing the highs and lows of their personal lives.  

Robert’s wife has progressive dementia and has therefore moved into a care home for both her and Robert’s wellbeing. This hugely challenging and very emotional change has been hard for Robert, but having Dave to talk to about it each week has really helped him to process his feelings and feel less lonely.  

Dave’s own dad suffered with dementia, and he understands first-hand how difficult it is to see the changes that the disease causes in a loved one. Through their weekly chats, the pair are able to work through their own difficult experiences together, sharing stories and support in equal measures.  

Last Christmas, Dave and Robert met in person for the first time at our annual older people’s Christmas Party. They both had a wonderful time, and really valued being able to enjoy some festivities together.  

This year, we are holding smaller parties at various locations – including some of our care schemes – for older people in our community. You can help to bring some festive joy to older people, who otherwise may not get to enjoy Christmas, by donating to our Winter Campaign here. 

All funds raised will go towards these parties – including catering, entertainment and transport – and to our befriending service, to keep it running efficiently and to help us to match even more befriending pairs next year.  

You can find out more about our befriending service here. 

A special thank you to Dave for sharing his story with us.