Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for people with diabetes and also their families

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Tom's story - volunteering as a befriender

Tom Rush

Tom Rush

Diagnosed with type 2 in 2008

“I look forward to phoning my befriender scheme friends. Talking about diabetes was the ice breaker for us in our first few meetings but it rarely is now."

Tom Rush is one of our longest standing volunteers and very much a valued member of the diabetes UK charity in Northern Ireland. Tom's most recent role as a volunteer throughout the last year has been becoming a befriender. He has had a very positive experience with all his referrals. 

Volunteering

Tom's experience as a befriender

During the various lockdowns we had throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we set up a befriender service. This aims to give extra support for those living with diabetes who may need it or are feeling lonely. Our befriender volunteers are at the other end of the phone to offer a listening ear and some friendly chat. They also help to point you in the right direction of other support services and information. The befriender organises calls and guides the discussion. They create a safe and respectful environment where the person feels comfortable sharing their experiences and thoughts.  

Tom Rush is one of our longest standing volunteers and very much a valued member of the diabetes UK charity in Northern Ireland. Tom's most recent role as a volunteer throughout the last year has been becoming a befriender. He has had a very positive experience with all his referrals.  

Tom is currently talking to two people through the befriender scheme. They stay in touch once a week, and Tom says he looks forward to the calls just as much as the referrals.  

“I look forward to phoning my befriender scheme friends. Talking about diabetes was the ice breaker for us in our first few meetings but it rarely is now. We talk about families, books, film and tv, current affairs and all sorts of things. I think my two friends like our discussions. They tell me that anyway.

"John is 90 plus and lives alone. His daughter visits him frequently and between them they manage his T1 very well. He is very knowledgeable about all sorts of things and has a very interesting large family circle. He is the eldest and is clearly a very important part of his family clan. If I was asked to describe John I would tell you ‘he could talk for Ireland’. My other friend is a lady who has a similar outlook on life to me. Her and I often sort out the cares of the world, one by one, of course. We have a bit to go before the job is done!”  

Tom himself has type 2 diabetes, so can empathise with our referrals and share knowledge from his own experiences. They also have conversations around their shared hobbies and life experiences. This has also been massively helpful for Tom in lockdown, as he's enjoyed building up a rapport and friendship with them.  

Tom encourages and supports the people referred to the befriender service to contribute and reflect. He also listens and raises anything which causes concern to him. He provides informal, social support and has formed a trusting relationship with his referrals. He's helped to reduce isolation, vulnerability and loneliness in people living with diabetes.  

Through being a befriender, Tom has ultimately increased awareness of the support available. He's also signposted where referrals can find more information, helping them to manage their diabetes better. 

His involvement in the charity over the years has been invaluable to us. Tom goes above and beyond the requirements of a general volunteer. He is flexible, reliable and committed and has a passion for diabetes. Tom gives so much of his time to a cause he believes in, in order to help others in the process. Tom is an excellent befriender volunteer, which is clear in the feedback received from his referrals. 

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