Alice Denman, a 1st year Psychology student at the University of Bath, shares her befriending story as a volunteer with 3SG.
“As many have found, living in lockdown is extremely different from normality. Personally, I struggled with the transition between constantly seeing friends, to seeing absolutely none. Once leaving University and returning home, I was so pleased to be with my family, but I did miss the social life I had at Bath. Lockdown made the days tedious, which I mainly filled with binge-watching Netflix… Although, having so much spare time led me to compare my circumstances to others. Of course, I missed my friends and Bath, but I questioned how different I would feel without my family during this crisis.
As a result of this reflection, I was keen to involve myself in supporting an individual who was isolated during this crisis. I frequently fundraise and volunteer in my free time, so I began searching for opportunities and learnt about the befriending scheme from 3SG through the Students’ Union website.
I am going to refer to the individual I was paired with as “Jenny”. At the beginning of the lockdown, Jenny was not prepared to talk with me. Entering lockdown was tough for everyone but she was particularly struggling. I kept attempting to contact her and after our first call, we frequently spoke throughout lockdown. Jenny went from reluctantly speaking to me to “looking forward to our calls, as they always made her feel happy”; so much so, she began to call me herself for a chat. Not only did our calls make Jenny feel happier, but our chats always made my day too. Every call was comprised of endless topics, where there was never a dull moment speaking about the adventures she had in her life and how pleased she was to be laughing about them again. Hearing about Jenny’s experiences has encouraged me to reflect her ways and make the most of every moment. The optimism she possesses despite the current struggles she is facing is something I admire greatly.
I am so glad I volunteered as a befriender during this crisis and I believe it is so important to put aside some time for others who may need a friendly voice. I will be keeping in contact with Jenny as I would love to hear how she is getting on seeing her family, friends and pet tortoise again! The friendship the experience has developed is something I am so grateful for. I hope other students are inspired to use their free time in a way which benefits others after lockdown ends. If you are willing to listen and are aiming to make a positive impact in someone’s life then I would go for it.”
3SG provides support for local charities across Bath and North East Somerset. Since the start of lockdown, they have been working on numerous initiatives to try and reach vulnerable people and provide support with food, medicine, housing, mental health and money matters.