Befriending, Orkney: 'Get together for a Yarn'


Voluntary Action Orkney Adult Befriending Service, in partnership with Community Social Services, bring together residents in care homes and day centres with volunteer befrienders to break down barriers through crafts, games and ‘yarning’. The aim is to enhance residents’ lives through reminiscing, craft activities, playing games, ‘yarning’ and to break down barriers between generations. To date some of the activities include looking at ‘memory boxes’ for Orkney Crafts and Industries, old photo albums, planting bulbs, an art project and enjoyed a good yarn along the way. In general, registered befrienders are expected to undergo training and commit to a minimum of 6 months befriending, once successfully matched. Visits/outings normally take place on a weekly, but on a flexible basis. Befrienders are also required to attend regular support meetings with the Co-ordinator after the first 6-8 weeks, and reviews will then be carried out every 6 months. There is an open door policy for additional support.

Monthly visits have been beneficial to both parties, with the Befrienders gaining an insight into the current lives of older people as well as learning from them how society in their community has changed over the years. Those involved gained enormous benefits from the social interaction, which in many cases prompted long-forgotten stories and memories, making for many hours of enjoyment. Inevitably there are challenges, not least in finding activities to suit people with mental or sensory impairment. However it is hoped that, in time through working together, suitable activities can be found to meet most, if not all needs. It is all part of the learning process!

‘Get Together for A Yarn’ has been welcomed by participants and has gained positive feedback in reviews from both the statutory and voluntary sector. The group has been allowed to create its own direction and momentum by selecting activities that arise from discussions.

“I’ve enjoyed it immensely – everyone is so nice and helpful.”
“I’ve been remembering things from my past which has been lovely.”
“There should be more of these events for people. It’s been a grand day, I’ve laughed and laughed!”