Lexi has been a volunteer with Deafblind UK since 2022 as one of our Befrienders, where she was paired with Evelyn. Evelyn had been feeling increasingly lonely as her age-related sight and hearing loss made it harder to get out and about. The pair have become firm friends chatting regularly on the phone these past months.
We feel incredibly lucky to have kind, passionate volunteers like Lexi on the team. They show our members that someone cares about them and wants to help them – and we couldn’t do what we do without them!
We asked Lexi about all things volunteering – from what inspired her to apply, to what it’s like to volunteer with Deafblind UK.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to volunteer?
By mid-2022, I was eager to get involved in some voluntary work and found Deafblind UK. I learned about Deafblind UK’s visions and values and was shocked to learn that almost 400,000 people in the UK are living with deafblindness.
It was clear that the charity promotes human kindness, compassion, and community. The volunteer telephone befriender role seemed to be a perfect opportunity for me to donate my time, not just my money.
What was the application process like?
The application process was simple, and well structured. Applying for other volunteer roles sometimes felt like a shot in the dark, but Deafblind UK has well-established processes.
There is lots of information about all the volunteer opportunities, which is great for someone like me who likes to have a nosey around.
Once the online form was complete, a team leader emailed me about the next steps. All the people that I have spoken to from Deafblind UK are kind and friendly, which makes the whole process feel like a breeze.
I completed a DBS check and took a series of online training modules. The modules took me a few hours, and at the end of the course I learned a lot of valuable information about deafblindness, confidentiality, and sensory loss.
Can you introduce us to your Befriendee?
I’ve been speaking to my Befriendee, Evelyn, for over six months.
I call Evelyn every Tuesday at 11 am on the dot. She is in her 80s, so she’s got a lot of interesting stories to tell me. She reminisces about the pet monkey she had when she was a girl, her time in the Wrens, and her travels over the years.
Evelyn has lived so many lives, and I love hearing about them. She has friends dotted all over the world, and it’s not unusual for her to tell me that an old friend from a bygone era has popped up out of the blue. It amazes me to think that in twenty or thirty years I might have friendships that last as long as Evelyns’.
What’s your favourite thing about befriending – has it changed anything for you?
Being a befriender reminds me of the innate kindness of people. Overall, volunteering with Deafblind UK has had an extremely positive impact on my life.
With all the stresses of modern life, it’s nice to take a step away from my own problems and focus on someone else. Evelyn has experienced so much in her lifetime, and she helps to put some of my dilemmas in perspective.
This befriending role has reminded me that everyone has a rich inner life. It’s a shame to think that I might not speak to amazing people because of superficial things. Deafblind UK has bridged the gap between two generations, which has had a lasting impact on my life.
Do you have any advice or tips for someone thinking about becoming a Befriender?
My advice is to jump right in.
Deafblind UK has a very well-established support team. I have a review with my contact Jennie every few months, which really helps to iron out any issues. If it doesn’t work out, at least you gave it a go. If it does work out, you’ve just made a friend for life.