Befriending charity is ‘making a very positive difference in people’s lives’

Jo Ivens, CEO of Brighton and Hove Impetus SUS-161214-104604001
Jo Ivens, CEO of Brighton and Hove Impetus SUS-161214-104604001

A Christmas campaign by a Brighton and Hove charity aims to combat loneliness and isolation over the festive season.

Brighton and Hove Impetus, a befriending charity, has more than 300 volunteers who give up their time all year round to help around 1,000 people across the city every year.

Jo Ivens, chief executive of Brighton and Hove Impetus, explains why the charity’s work is so important, not just at Christmas, but all year round.

She said: “Around the Christmas holiday season there is more of a focus on ‘togetherness’ and family. School and work holidays combine with decorations and adverts that spread a Christmas message.

“For some it’s a fabulously happy and indeed social time. For plenty of others of all ages, it can be a lonely and isolating time.

“Loneliness isn’t just around Christmas of course but it can be a particularly tough time for anyone missing someone or with a limited social network. We provide support to a wide variety of people whether they’re single, parents or grandparents – loneliness can and does affect lots of people in many ways.

“Thirty-six per cent of Brighton homes house people who live alone, 33 per cent of those are people over 65 years old. Those figures mean an average of 23 people per street across the city are on their own. Whilst some will enjoy that, we know from our daily charitable work that a sizeable portion of those will in fact be struggling with loneliness.

“Seventy per cent of people we help tell us isolation is the most difficult aspect of their life. Living alone is a proven significant factor in loneliness.

“The effect of loneliness and isolation makes people more prone to depression and illness – indeed it can be more damaging to our health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The good news is there are things we can all do to help.

“Our team of 300 volunteers give over 11,000 hours of support each year. We provide simple and specialist help to people experiencing isolation and loneliness.

“People tell us that our work makes them feel much better and more able to cope. We know we are making a very positive difference in peoples’ lives. The need for our services is growing. We really need your support to help us respond. 

“You can reach out - as a friendly neighbour or become a volunteer befriender with us. You can also donate to support our charitable work.

“Please support our Christmas appeal: Donate £5 by texting the word CONNECT to 70060.”

How you can help

There are a number of ways to get involved, to ensure ‘no one is lonely in Brighton and Hove’ this Christmas.

- You can donate £5 by texting CONNECT to 70060 to give £5 to Impetus.

- Volunteer with Impetus and help people in your local community feel less isolated.

- Fundraise – get your friends together, put on an event, do something silly for sponsorship; every penny really does count.

- Spread the word – help make the campaign come alive by championing it on social media. Follow @BHImpetus on Twitter.

For more information, visit: www.bh-impetus.org