Award-winning volunteer combats loneliness in the local community

12th Jun 2024

A volunteer at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust has developed two community groups to support those experiencing loneliness.

Bally Barquer, is passionate about helping people following her own previous experience with depression and feeling alone.

As a result, she set up Connections 4 Volunteers at the Trust which meets once a month and Apna Wellness Social group for those within the Sikh community.

Speaking during Loneliness Week (10-16 June), she said: “I want to make a difference, and after my experience of bullying and battling with depression and isolation, I decided to take a hold of my life. I know what it’s like to feel lonely and I didn’t want anyone else to experience that too.

“Setting up these groups gave me a sense of purpose, where I hope to continue to inspire others and pass on my knowledge to people in my local community where we can focus on reducing isolation.”

Connections 4 Volunteers began in July 2023 and is an opportunity for members to share their experiences and widen their network within the Trust.

Bally set up Apna Wellness Social group in May last year when she recognised that members of her community needed support.

She continues to help by organising regular coffee mornings, supporting those who speak Punjabi by teaching them English, and being an active confidant to members. She has also set up an allotment that they can tend to.

In 2022, Bally went to on to be one of the 490 shortlisted volunteers who were recognised as a Platinum Champion for their outstanding contribution as a volunteer for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

She said: “I was overwhelmed with the award that I had achieved – I love my role as volunteer at the Trust, where I support and advise staff and patients how to navigate around our busy site. This role has helped me to build my confidence, to give back and to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

To join the Apna Wellness Social Connection please contact Bally via email at for more information.

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