Swan Centre’s Support For Women

A befriending service which helps women who have become lonely or isolated is continuing to flourish thanks to a grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

The Swan Women’s Centre in Bootle received a three-year grant of £76,800 last year, using the investment to fund the Befriending Service which helps many women from the Sefton area.

The charity as a whole is designed to support women to achieve mental wellbeing and provide services for women who experience anxiety, depression, stress or mental health issues.

“Our role is to support women in Sefton who have become lonely or isolated due to barriers caused by poor mental health,” said Karen Christie, CEO of the Swan Women’s Centre.

“Volunteer Befrienders will support women in Sefton who are unable to fully engage in their community and who would like to take steps towards socialising and accessing services independently.

“Each woman using the service will be in regular contact with a volunteer who is committed to supporting them over the longer term.

“We will aim for around 12 months support, but this can be shorter or longer depending on each woman’s needs.

“There are a number of shared aims of the befriending project, for both the women who will be matched with a Befriender and those who take on the role of a Volunteer Befriender.

“Both groups of women will benefit from reduced isolation and loneliness, increased confidence and sense of wellbeing and the Volunteer Befrienders will support women to engage in activities within their community starting to help them building a network of mutual support.”

Contact between volunteers and the women they befriend is primarily face to face but can include telephone and email conversations, home visits, company for activities or hobbies, and help with using public transport or going shopping.

This can also be extended to helping the women overcoming anxiety by accompanying them to other important duties such as medical or welfare appointments, helping attend a Food Bank or Citizen’s Advice Bureau, or attending housing or employment meetings.

The Befriending Service is one of several different support services provided by Swan Women’s Centre, with others including counselling, a Therapeutic Allotment, Group Therapy, holistic therapies and creative activities.

Full training is provided for volunteers who are supported by the Befriending Co-Ordinator at the charity. Current volunteers range from 21 to 76 years old, and the women currently being supported are 21 to 90 years age though the service also works with women from the age of 18.

Karen added: “The Steve Morgan Foundation has enabled us to reach out and befriend women in our community who otherwise would continue to experience isolation and loneliness and instead are beginning to take part in activities and build their confidence and improve their well-being.”

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