We nominated our Volunteer Befriender Jasmine Charles for a Southwark Star award - and on the 26th May 2023, Jasmine went to pick up the award. At a ceremony at the Tate Modern Jasmine (pictured above with her daughter Claudia) was awarded a Southwark Star for her incredible work with her befriendee, Janie*.

Jasmine was matched with Janie in 2018 and has been visiting her weekly ever since, reverting to phone calls during COVID. When Janie was more mobile they used to meet in a local café but more recently Janie has felt less able to get out due to her reduced mobility, hearing impairment and recurring issues with her mental wellbeing. As Janie has become more and more housebound, Jasmine has visited her more often for a lively chat, to offer a listening ear or to do a small shop. She regularly brings Janie a hot meal; her favourite being Bangers and Mash on a Thursday, and a Roast Dinner on Sundays.

As well as ensuring Janie gets some regular company and a hot meal or two every week, Jasmine has offered a range of vital practical support over the years. This includes:

· Complaining to the Housing Ombudsman in order to get Janie’s landlord to carry out repairs and to ensure adequate lighting in the communal parts of the building – this included getting compensation for Janey due to the condition of her flat.

· Alerting Social Services to the worsening situation Janie was in, which resulted in her getting two carer visits a day.

· Supporting with phone calls to GPs and Eye clinics, and accompanying to hospital appts as Janie worries that she cannot always hear what is being discussed.

· Keeping an eye on her carers and liaising with the care agency with any concerns

Jasmine describes Janie as ‘such a sweet lady, always very grateful and friendly and kind’ but also knows that she is very socially isolated. Janie has no family close to her, with most of her extended family back in Ireland, and just one other friend, who is able to visit every other weekend. This friend tells Jasmine that she simply doesn’t think Janie would have survived without her.Like many volunteers, Jasmine offers a lifeline to someone experiencing loneliness and who has become increasingly vulnerable. Her commitment to Janie is huge, not just the practical support, which has been life-changing, but the emotional investment, kindness, care and company, which we believe has been life-saving.

When asked what she enjoys most about her volunteering Jasmine says that she ‘just likes seeing things getting done for Janie and seeing her happy and comfortable’.

*the service user's name has been changed.