Boost for Befriending Lewis

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The Befriending Lewis team has been awarded £149,958 of Big Lottery Funding through the Improving Lives Fund.

This money will help the organisation to sustain the volunteer Befriending service across the Isle of Lewis for the next three years.

A spokesperson for the group, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the award of this grant to our service, and would like to thank the Big Lottery Fund for recognising the incredible benefits our service can bring to our community, and having the faith in us to deliver it across the Isle of Lewis.”

Befriending Lewis, administered by Volunteering Hebrides, part of the Third Sector Hebrides Group, was launched in November 2015, in response to feedback from the community that the service was urgently needed all around Lewis.

In what has been a busy pilot year for Befriending Lewis, much has been achieved.

Two staff members successfully completed accredited training through Befriending Networks UK, a bespoke befriending training course was then developed and delivered to 30 exceptional volunteers, with other specialist training provided to volunteers such as dementia awareness, sensory impairment and first aid.

All this initial preparation has led to over 30 long term befriending relationships being formed, with over 2000 volunteer hours being delivered in the community.

The spokesperson continued: “None of this would have been possible without the hard work, belief and dedication of our volunteers, of whom we can’t talk highly enough.

“This includes our fundraising efforts over the year, which has included a curry night, a charity skydive, store collections and much more.

“Our thanks go to local suppliers; Car Hire Hebrides, Loganair, Scottish Coop, Charles MacLeod Butchers, Williamsons Fruit & Veg, Grillburger and Angus Clinton Windows for their generous donations to our various events.

“Our grateful thanks also go to Hebridean Housing Partnership, Lewis Carnival Committee, Voluntary Action Fund, CNES Ward Members, for their much appreciated donations.

“We are also grateful for the support and interest shown from pupils of the Nicolson Institute who have also raised funds and awareness of the service.”

Partnership working has been developed and strong links have been established between Befriending Lewis and CNES Social Work, Alzheimer’s Scotland, The Samaritans, WI Sensory Centre, the Nicolson Institute, and others, as well as many Befriending services around Scotland.

Although Befriending Lewis does not currently benefit from any form of local or national health or social care funding, funding applications will continue to be submitted to all awarding bodies.

The spokesperson concluded: “We are confident that our second year will be as positive and successful as our first year!

“We would like to build on our strengths and the strengths of the people involved with the service.

“The Befriending Lewis team are a mix of dedicated individuals, volunteers, staff, friends and supporters who each put their heart and soul into ensuring that the service runs effectively, and the award of this Big Lottery funding will energise and inspire all our volunteers and supporters going forward.”

To find out more about the service visit: website