Befriending and community

October 30, 2020

The impact of lockdown has had an unexpected effect on neighbourliness. It has started to bring communities together in a positive way, forging new links and support in many ways across streets, estates, villages, towns and counties.

In March and beyond, people rallied round to make sure vulnerable and elderly people were able to get their shopping, prescriptions and other essentials. Virtual strangers who lived next door to one another met on the pavement during the weekly clap for carers. Others formed groups to make PPE for hospitals, walk dogs for those unable to get out, or provide conversation and entertainment for those who were alone in isolation.

We helped each other in a thousand different ways, and it felt good to be doing something proactive when we felt so helpless.

Befriending Week

Befriending Week, 1-7 November is an opportunity to carry on that public spirit, or to extend the hand of friendship to others who may be isolating or lonely. Brought to us by Befriending Networks this year’s theme #BefriendingIs invites you to define your meaning for befriending and use that to make a connection with someone who needs a friend now more than ever.

At Music for Dementia, we believe #BefriendingIs: Starting a musical conversation. Musical conversations are an excellent way of making connections, especially when other communication becomes difficult. Music has a way of bridging the gap and enabling people to share an experience together.

Find out what they enjoy

The person you know with dementia may be a family member who you are increasingly unable to chat to. Why not play them some music from their era (usually hits from the time they were aged 11 to 30) and see what they enjoy listening to? You can do this down a phone line or video call if you aren’t able to see them in person. You could then make a playlist for them and pop it onto an MP3 player as a surprise gift.

Perhaps the person you know with dementia is a neighbour – can you call round (socially distanced) and ask for their phone number so you can start a friendship, then introduce music as a topic of conversation? Rediscovering favourite music will be a new companion for them during the hours that they are alone, too. Perhaps you can lend them a DVD of a musical to talk about at a future date.

For other ideas on keeping the music going, please take a look at our Musical Guide.

Happy befriending.