2D Ltd, a volunteer centre in County Durham, has created a volunteer ‘buddying’ scheme where people with long-term conditions help others with similar health needs to live and feel better.
2D’s buddying project recognises that people with long-term conditions have much to offer in terms of time, enthusiasm and knowledge to help others (and themselves) lead better lives.
Volunteers help their buddies in many ways – from sharing tips on alternative therapies they’ve found helpful to simply having a cup of tea and a chat with someone who may have become isolated or lost their confidence.
The hope is that people who have been supported by volunteers will go on to help others in the future.
A year on from project launch, Michele Armstrong, CEO of 2D Ltd, says the results have been encouraging so far: “There are many positive benefits to real people, who had almost written themselves off. It’s taken nine months working with one gentleman who was at an all-time low, but he has just had an interview for a volunteering position.”
One of the project’s volunteer buddies, herself a sufferer of MS, added that she has also found volunteering hugely rewarding, helping her rebuild her own confidence and regain a sense of purpose:
“When the door of the consulting room closes we might have the special key to help someone with their ongoing concerns. I understood the dilemma the person I was helping was facing, because I had been in that dark place before. It also made me feel useful, an emotion I had not felt for a long time!”
In February 2013, 2D Ltd was awarded £50,000 through the Volunteer Centre Programme to develop the bespoke advice and guidance service for people with long-term conditions and a further £50,000 of follow on funding to expand its services.
Michele Armstrong, CEO
To find out more about the benefits of involving people in their own and others’ healthcare, check out Nesta’s People Powered Health project.