The Re Connect project offers a peer befriending scheme in Gloucestershire for people affected by Stroke, Dementia, Aphasia, and other long term health conditions, and their carers.

Re-Connect empowers people with long term health conditions (LTCs) and carers across Gloucestershire to live fulfilling and socially connected lives through a peer befriending scheme.

Befrienders are trained and supported to share their experiences of living with a long-term condition, to offer support and help build confidence.

People living with a long-term condition, such as dementia, aphasia, or stroke, support other people with a similar condition. This can be through one-to-one visits at home, care homes, in the community, in a group setting and in the stroke units at Cheltenham Hospital and the Vale Stroke Rehabilitation unit at Vale Community Hospital.

Our Befrienders understand the challenges faced by people living with a long-term condition and offer support by sharing their own experiences, and theytell usit makesa difference to their own lives too.

The project demonstrates that the best long-term support can be found within communities, and we encourage people to attend our local peer support groups. Our informal groups are a great place to share experiences, offer ideas, support each other, as well as rebuild confidences. We work closely with county-wide networks, running training alongside our Befrienders in partnership with Stroke Association and theStroke Education team at Oxstalls; communication and aphasia training, dementia training and first aid for staff, volunteers, participants, and carers.

As a result of our work communities involved have become more accepting and inclusive places for people with a LTC to live. People with LTCs reporting a positive change in their communities towards more inclusive attitudes. People are becoming more able to self-manage their LTC and are therefore more resilient, joining on line forums, support groups, becoming a Befriender.

They report increased confidence to self-initiate and make life choices, more positive feelings about social inclusion, less depressed and lonelyand altogether happier.

During the pandemic of 2020-21 we radically changed how we support people, reacting swiftly to local need. We suspended our 1-1 and hospital visiting and put our groups on hold, resuminggroups briefly during the summer in a covid safe environment. We ran some walking groups instead of meeting inside, which were very popular. We implemented and ran a pen pal letter writing scheme and a telephone befriending service. In total 23 people are in the pen pal scheme, 70 people in the groups, and to date there have been 581 phone calls made.

Please click HERE for our referral form