Each day across Britain around 100 people are told they are losing their sight. Could you volunteer as a Christian befriender to help one of them?
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV)
Every day, 100 people in the UK learn that they are losing their sight.
Such news can be traumatic, and can bring increased risk of depression, anxiety, loss of confidence and social isolation. Though professionals can offer expert help, people struggling with the emotional and practical implications of sight loss need much more time to adjust than busy professionals can give. Yet only 1 in 5 have someone to support them at this tough time and only 1 in 12 are offered any form of counselling.
That’s where Journeying With comes in. Launched by Torch Trust, Journeying With brings Christian volunteers from local churches alongside people at their times of need with sight loss, to help them adjust to change and ensure they have good support in place.
The volunteers offer confidential support for a few hours each week, over six months. This could be visiting the client at home, meeting out and about, or being a listening ear over the telephone. Volunteers help to connect clients with other local services and to ‘be there’ for someone as they adjust to change. Times of crisis can raise deeper issues in life, so Journeying With also offers the opportunity to pray and discuss deeper feelings and faith.
If you are a health or social care professional or know someone who might benefit from having a Journeying With volunteer, do get in touch. The scheme is open to clients over 18, who are losing sight and live in a scheme area.
If you are a mature Christian who can give a few hours each week to help someone through tough times with sight loss, we would love to hear from you. You don’t need any special skill or experience – full training and ongoing support will be provided – but you do need the ability to listen, empathise and ‘act as a friend would act’.
Local schemes are usually set up with one local church or network ‘owning’ the programme, supported by a volunteer coordinator / team, so that everything reflects local needs. Torch provides full training and guidance on setting up a scheme, so if you would like to know more, do get in touch.
Her coming through the door and 'shining'… Just coming to the door - that means a lot because I don't have many people coming here at all. I'm so lonely, very lonely. I had so much to do before this happened, then all of a sudden you've nothing to do.
I wouldn't have talked about things the way I do now. I wouldn't have talked to other people because they have problems of their own. I would have kept it all to myself. Whereas with [my befriender] I could confide in her and she was a good listener…
She's been a real friend. Somebody I could speak to about the way I was, the way I felt.
Talking to someone like yourself, it helps to be able to talk about your faith - it comes back to you when you are talking about it, it comes back to you both.
I would definitely recommend it. I would tell them about the change it makes in your life. Having somebody new coming in and discovering new friends.
It makes a great change in your life. If you get the right volunteer they are a great companion to you. They listen to you and talk to you. There is no distance between you - they are very friendly.
To read some stories about how people have benefited from having a Journeying With volunteer please see our 'Success stories' page.
Supporting people through their sight loss journey is both a privilege and an opportunity. It is an area of work in which you can make a very real difference. The vision of Torch is to provide the required training and resources to make this a reality in your church.
To find out more about the becoming a volunteer fill out the 'Expression of Interest' form or contact the Journeying With team to arrange an appointment to discuss befriending opportunities in your area with a member of our Journeying With Team.
For general information please download
For details about the various voluntary roles please download
(Print, giant print and audio copies are also available. Please contact the Journeying With team to request copies.)