Loneliness Awareness Week 2018:
Become a Community Navigator volunteer
New service tackling loneliness reaches 400 referrals – and calls for more volunteers to give isolated older people the lifeline they need
Over 400 people have now made contact with the new Community Navigators Bristol service, which was launched last year. The service helps people over 50 feel less isolated by connecting them with their community. With Loneliness Awareness Week (a campaign run by the Marmalade Trust) taking place between 18-22 June, Community Navigators Bristol is calling for people to volunteer as navigators so the service can support more people than ever.
If you become a Community Navigator volunteer you’ll be giving people who are feeling lonely the confidence to get more involved in their community. You’ll visit them in their homes, find out what matters to them and share information about what’s on locally. Then you might go along with them when they try something for the first time.
Laura Thacker and Gemma Holden, Community Navigator Coordinators for the service, said: “If you are interested in becoming a Community Navigator, we’d love to hear from you. You’ll get to make a life-changing difference to the wellbeing of local people, develop some new professional skills, become a valued member of our vibrant volunteer network, and meet lots of interesting people. We’ll also give you friendly support and training to help you make a success of your role – and the hours are flexible.”
Tony, 83, a Community Navigator volunteer from Fishponds, said: “Volunteering has been really rewarding. I like getting to understand the person I’m supporting and see them change – and want to change. Some people I meet haven’t been out of the house for three months. Even walking with someone to the bus stop can help them believe that this is what their life could be like. I was definitely nervous when I first started. How would people respond to this old git knocking on their door? But experience and some supportive training have given me confidence to sit down with the person and set some goals together. This is what life is about: meeting people, exchanging feelings and sharing some laughter.”
Sandra*, 66, who was referred to the service in north Bristol by her GP surgery, said: “Community Navigators is an absolutely amazing service. I was living alone after my husband passed away, and I was feeling very isolated, low and depressed. I didn’t go out at all. But when my Community Navigator made contact I felt like I could talk to her without being judged. She signposted me to lots of different things – befriending, help with my garden, coffee morning, lunch club, housing options and helped me access financial support and counselling. It was a relief to have someone to hold my hand while I took baby steps. It made it easier for me to try things on my own.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer yourself or if you would like to make a referral to the service get in touch.
*Name has been changed.