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Shipley and Bingley befriending service seeks volunteers
Shipley Area Links Befriending Service is taking referrals all the time, but cannot meet demand.
Joy Mills, from Shipley and Bingley Voluntary Service, which helps runs the scheme, said more befrienders were desperately needed, particularly men.
Befriending involves regular visits to a person in their home by a local volunteer. The partners are matched up and a routine, and hopefully friendship, is established.
Research shows people feel less isolated, have increased confidence and reduced anxiety as a result.
Around 20 older or ill housebound people are waiting to be partnered, but only six volunteers are waiting to be trained.
“We work to pair people up as locally as possible. It’s nice for people to meet their neighbours and they don’t have a long journey then,” Mrs Mills said.
“A lot of the befriendees are in their 80s or 90s, but we do take people who are in their 60s, or even 50s, if they’re disabled or feeling isolated.
“The visits do make a big difference to people. They do say they really, really appreciate the friendships that they make.
“When they get referred, they often say they haven’t spoken to anybody that week and it’s really lovely to have a proper chat with somebody when you go round to visit. They really appreciate someone paying them some attention.
“One of the chaps came to our last Christmas party and apart from hospital visits, that was the first time he’d left the house since 2009 when he visited his wife’s grave.”
People can refer themselves to the befriending scheme or be referred through social services, families, home-from-hospital services or district nurses.
“We get referrals in all the time and people can join at any time as volunteers,” Mrs Mills said.
As well as home visits, befriendees are invited to parties twice a year with volunteers. The latest was earlier this month in celebration of £287,639 from the Big Lottery Fund which the befriending service was awarded in June.
The scheme started in 2009 and is also run by Health Action Local Engagement.
To join, contact befriending co-ordinators Joy Mills, of Shipley Area Links Befriending Service, on (01274) 781222 or Lesley Danson, of Health Action Local Engagement, on (01274) 271088.
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