Give your time as a Christmas gift to end isolation

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

Tuesday, 13th December 2016, 1:03 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 5:11 am
Impetus volunteers Guy lloyd and Zoe Lyons

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. Two of those volunteers are well-known: Zoe Lyons, a comedian, and Guy Lloyd, a radio and TV presenter. They have revealed what made them start volunteering with Impetus, and why they back the charity’s campaign slogan that ‘no-one should be lonely’ – especially at Christmas.

Guy Lloyd, an Impetus volunteer and radio and TV presenter, said: “I’ve been with Impetus for nearly a year now and I have to say it’s brought so much joy to my life and hopefully to the person I visit. I feel very lucky in my job as a radio and TV presenter but you can get a bit lost in it all and last year, I decided I wanted to give something back to the community and do something that could change a person’s life, hopefully for the better.

“My background before getting in to the world of media was social care and I spent five of the 13 years in that career, specifically working with the elderly.

Impetus volunteers Guy lloyd and Zoe Lyons

“I loved those five years and made a lot of friends. You can learn a lot from people that have lived and continue to live a full life. I always knew that I would go back to it eventually and so it’s lovely to be involved and supporting someone again through the Impetus scheme. Particularly because the person I see, can get very low and depressed, with feelings of isolation and loneliness a common theme. He lost his wife a few years ago, and he’s found it very hard to adapt to life alone.

“I see him once a week for an hour and we just sit and chat. It may be a little thing but it means a lot to him and I’ve really got to know him. Over the last year, he’s joined a community group in the local area and been on holiday for the first time in years. He still has his down days but I know I’ve made a little difference and I think if we can all do our bit, whether it’s with this charity or another, the world will be a better place. It feels like a time when we all need to look after each other.”

Zoe Lyons, an Impetus volunteer and comedian, said: “I first became aware of the work of Impetus and the Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS) after I performed at a gig for them in Brighton. I was so impressed by all the people I met that evening who volunteered in the local community that it made me think about what I could also do. I travel a lot with my work and I keep odd hours, but being a volunteer is great because you can fit it around whatever schedule you may have.

“I love the simplicity of the idea behind the NCS, it is a good neighbour befriending scheme, matching volunteers who can provide support to older people in the area.

Dorothy is supported by Brighton and Hove Impetus

“The person I visit for an hour each week is really quite remarkable, he is now house bound because of his age as he is in his mid-90s. He was quite adventurous when he was younger and very able and we have quite a few shared interests including skiing and travel.

“He occasionally asks me to get him some things from the shops but mostly we just have a lovely chat and last summer we hired a wheelchair and took a few spins down the promenade, a place he used to like to roller blade until the age of 78, when he decided to give it up.

“This Christmas I would urge you to consider giving the gift of your time to a person near who is perhaps lonely and isolated. The one thing I have learned from volunteering is that you actually give up nothing, everybody gains, it is such a rewarding thing to be able to do.”

How you can help Impetus

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. It costs just £10.35 to provide weekly befriending support for one isolated person.

- 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 or to volunteer, visit: www.bh-impetus.org