Matthew has been a telephone befriender with Deafblind UK for the past three years. As a Producer for BBC News, he has a busy lifestyle but was keen to find a way to make volunteering work for him.
“I wanted to get involved in some volunteering but my work hours can be a bit chaotic and I’ve got a young family. Befriending on the phone was a good practical solution.” He said.
The 42 year old father of two from London was matched with Deafblind UK member, John from Merseyside. He calls John once a week for about half an hour which leaves time for him to fit in electric guitar lessons and dragon boat racing as well!
Matthew said: “We talk about all sorts; what he’s been up to, sport, politics, his family and mine. He also talks a lot about his experiences in the army which is fascinating. I usually get a couple of jokes thrown into the mix as well.”
John, who is 85, has severe sight and hearing impairments after being injured in the Korean War. This makes everyday tasks extremely difficult and as a result, John’s social activities became increasingly limited. “A lot of services in our society are just not easy for me to access which is really frustrating. But I really look forward to Matthew’s weekly call. We have a good laugh and it’s great to have someone to talk to without worrying about going out and about.” Said John.
Although the two talk every week and consider themselves to be good friends, Matthew and John have never met in person. Matthew said “At one point John was going to be in London for an event but it sadly didn’t happen. If I ever happen to be near Liverpool I will definitely visit him.”
Matthew has made volunteering fit around his other commitments and it has really paid off. “I’ve made a good friend. I look forward to our conversations. It’s a great thing to do, you get to know someone very well and it’s so much fun!” He said.