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Friendly Befriending

Local Catalyst Launa supported Gary to set up his own small enterprise – Friendly Befriending. Launa took Gary through the Community Catalysts’ development programme which gave him the confidence to set up in a legal, safe, compliant and sustainable way.

In this piece, Gary shares his reflections about setting up Friendly Befriending, and Pamela talks about the impact Gary’s community enterprise has had on her.

Reflections on setting up Friendly Befriending – Gary

I’ve been working in Social Prescribing and Mental Health for nearly ten years and in that time, I’ve continuously seen the same issue day in, day out…

“…People need people to feel human. They also need to be heard & until they are, their identities will continue to be ‘wrapped up’ in their clinical ‘labels.'”

So, I always found that exploring the individual – as a person – was more successful than trying to address their issues.

Nobody can really fix anybody’s issues so it becomes a case of ‘Let me listen to you and the answer will pop up’.

I had the idea for ‘Friendly Befriending’ for years but just needed some guidance and this came via Launa from Community Catalysts. Her approach was friendly and non-judgemental.

“Without Launa, I never would’ve set up my own business. Just having somebody there with the knowledge and attitude that Launa possesses has made the whole experience a joy to be a part of and I highly recommend Community Catalysts.”

The impact of Friendly Befriending – Pamela

I am 78 years old and live alone In Worcester. Before Covid I used to go to different clubs nearby but they all shut during lockdown and have not started again. I had been stuck at home because I have a few issues with my health.

“I had become lonely, depressed, anxious and I did not go anywhere. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was even talking to the television for company.”

I know Gary as he used to work with my daughter at the local surgery. He had helped me with a few things in his old job, so when I heard he was visiting people to be friends with them I thought he would be ideal to help me. He is so calm and I trust him; I can tell him anything.

“He is not like a carer. He is like a friend (I don’t say befriending, ‘cause it sounds like he is my boyfriend!)”

Gary has helped me get out of the flat again. We have been to the Next café, to the Warndon Hub and to the garden centre where I bought some shoes. We have a laugh together.

Because I am happy again now, I have started going out again on my own. I might even have overdone it a bit, but I have been to Sainsburys on the bus and to Age UK in town. I have been back to Kingdom Hall where I can see my many friends and I even went to town for a work reunion and saw eight of my old friends. I was part of the ‘A’ Team and it was lovely to see my work friends again.

Find out more about Friendly Befriending