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Our new Befriender Service offers people a listening ear - Northern Ireland

Befriender volunteer Roberta McCullough on a telephone call

A retired nurse is encouraging others living with diabetes to pick up the phone and use our Befriender Service, here at Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, to combat loneliness since the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions.

Volunteer Roberta McCullough is providing a friendly, listening ear to local people living with diabetes who are feeling anxious or isolated.

Roberta, Secretary of the Ballynahinch Diabetes UK NI Support Group, said; “The Diabetes UK NI Befriender Service offers regular friendly chats with one of our volunteers who know what it is like to manage diabetes during these strange times. We are walking in the callers’ shoes so understand the worries they may have and have the information to sign post them to local services that can help support them if needed.”

The scheme, that is made possible through funding from the National Lottery Community Fund NI, helps establish and build a befriending relationship with the volunteer, providing friendly conversation through either regular calls or emails.

Roberta, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for ten years, added; “I have befriended a lady who lives alone and although she has family living nearby she missed chatting from meeting up with people at social gatherings and church during lockdown."

“I think the Befriender Service is very timely at the moment and it offers a lifeline to people who prefer to chat on the phone rather than access support online. I would encourage anyone who feels they could benefit from the service to get in touch. There is no need to suffer in silence.”

To avail of the Befriender Service e-mail nivolunteering@diabetes.org.uk or call 0746 9154 823 between 9am to 5pm to contact a member of the Diabetes UK NI team.

If you have any questions about diabetes please call our Helpline 0345 123 2399, Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.

Meet Dawn, who is one of our Befrienders, as she tells you a little bit more about what to expect.

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