2 April 2024

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Meet your compassionate neighbours

Compassionate Neighbours

Compassionate neighbours connect with someone at home to help people feel supported and part of the community.

Being diagnosed with a long term or terminal illness can leave people isolated and alone. In fact, illness aside, many of those living in our communities already face isolation, with few people in their lives to offer company and support.

Helping to combat and alleviate loneliness has become an ever more important part of St Christopher’s
work in the community.

For five years now, this has included our Compassionate Neighbours initiative, which pairs community-based volunteers with people who have long-term, life-limiting or terminal illness, or who are older and socially isolated. Volunteers are known as Compassionate Neighbours.

They connect with someone at home to help people feel supported and part of the community.

Hundreds of people have made valued connections with people they wouldn’t otherwise meet. On our fifth anniversary we wanted to thank those who have been involved, and we got to hear the stories of what being part of it has meant to people.

Billie, Compassionate Neighbour

Many friendships have blossomed since the scheme first started, and the volunteers who shared their stories at our event said the same thing: they have all got a huge amount out of being involved too.
Take Lorraine, who was matched with her community member, Raymond, over a year ago. “I thought: ‘Yes, he’s right for me,’ because I was also looking for someone to talk to, and Raymond made me laugh. That’s what I needed.”

How easy is it to be a Compassionate Neighbour? We think that all it takes is someone who would like to show support, kindness and friendship to someone else in their community. It works on the idea that whoever we are, we all have skills, interests and something special to offer. It doesn’t require specialist expertise or large amounts of training.

Ron, Community Member

Many current Compassionate Neighbours have jobs, families, and other commitments of their own.

We know that taking part needs to be flexible and local to fit in with people’s lives, and these are key features of the project. We think this is why lots of different people want to get involved: the youngest Compassionate Neighbour is 17 and the oldest is 92!

Most importantly, the relationship between matches is based on respect and mutual benefit and because of this, individual relationships flourish.

Ron and Ann Talking at the 2023 Compassionate Neighbours Event
Ron and Ann

We currently have over 120 Community Members across South East London who are matched with Compassionate Neighbours, but as people are really interested in being part of the project, we always
need more volunteers to join in! We would love to hear from you about becoming a Compassionate Neighbour and supporting someone in your community. Click here to discover more.

:: This story was from our Spring/Summer issue of Connect magazine. To read the full magazine, or to sign up to receive future editions, please click here.

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