Image: The Rt Hon John Redwood MP and Councillor Adrian Edwards, Chairman of West Berkshire Council, together with representatives of TiM, Link Visiting, and supporting organisations.
John Redwood MP was among the guests attending the launch of a new befriending service in Burghfield and Mortimer last Saturday, 20th April.
TiM stands for Together in Mission, where the “mission” is for local churches to work together on projects which benefit the community. TiM is made up of 10 churches and since 2009 has set up a community fun day, a community cafe (Café B which hosted the launch), and a School Pastors project at the Willink School. All of this has been in response to what local people have said themselves they would like to see set up in their communities.
TiM Friends aims to provide extra care and support for older folk who find themselves on their own, lonely, and who would welcome someone to chat to, take an interest, and become a friend. We will provide home visits, regular telephone calls and opportunities to get out and mix with others, perhaps at a lunch club or pie and pint day (more popular with men!). We believe this will make people feel valued and appreciated, and life a bit better overall.
The project has been set up using a model pioneered by Link Visiting, operating successfully in the Wokingham Borough since 1998. Recently, Link has been exploring ways in which further befriending schemes could be developed nationally, and has been developing partnerships with interested churches and faith groups. TiM Friends is the first such project to be set up using this approach.
John Redwood warmly commended TiM Friends, recalling that his mother had visited older folk after her retirement and just how enjoyable and worthwhile it was for her as well as for those visited.
The next step for TiM Friends is to recruit more volunteers. Bev French and Sian Laflin (the two project Co-ordinators) explained that a warm and caring personality was the best qualification for a volunteer and that training and support would be provided throughout. They hope to work closely with other local voluntary and statutory organisations to deliver the best service possible. We were delighted therefore that the launch was attended by Councillor Adrian Edwards, the Chair of West Berks Council, as well as by other local councillors, representatives of community and professional bodies, and local church leaders.
The launch concluded with a prayer of blessing given by the Rev Charles French of the Well Church, Burghfield Common.