Community Befriender Volunteer Described as ‘Wee Best Friend’ as Success of Initiative Continues to Grow

12th March 2024
Frances and Befriender Volunteer Pauline Millar

“I visit Frances once a week and I keep her company. We chat and enjoy having a bit of a laugh together!” These are the words of Lisburn based Community Befriender Pauline Millar who has been visiting 91-year-old Frances at home for the past six years.

Providing chat and companionship to help reduce loneliness and social isolation for older people within South Eastern Trust areas, the Befriender service continues to provides invaluable assistance to many people.

A retired GP receptionist, Pauline explained how she became a Befriender through information leaflets that had been placed in the surgery. “I thought this was something I could do as I was searching for some voluntary work so I applied,” said Pauline.

Pauline said that she saw a need within the elderly community for companionship as, “I believe that they can sometimes be forgotten and they need a bit more support, especially when living alone. I visit Frances once a week for around one hour and I know that Frances appreciates the company as her family are not close by.”

Pauline continued: “When Frances and I had our ‘match meeting’ we just hit it off straight away! I look forward to coming to see Frances and she looks forward to seeing me. Our friendship is very much a two way thing and it is very rewarding for both of us. Frances classes me as her ‘wee best friend’ which is just lovely. Frances is very much a friend too.”

Frances described how much she looks forward to Pauline’s weekly visits as “there is many a lonely person out there.”  “We sit and chat and that means a lot to me.”

“We chat about everything, Pauline is very good company.”

South Eastern Trust’s Volunteer Befriending Facilitator Lynn Shields described how she had seen “many relationships blossom over the years and the creation of really close friendships”.

“The importance of the Befriending service is to reduce social isolation and loneliness for those in the community who are aged 65 and who live alone. Through the service we offer the chance to become a volunteer by telephone or a weekly visit. We currently have around 40 people availing of the service.”

Lynn continued: “We could not run this service without our volunteers. What they do really makes such a difference.”

If you are interested in becoming a Volunteer Befriender please contact 02897566934 or email