A BEFRIENDING Scheme is appealing for volunteer drivers to help isolated people get out and about around the district.

The Shipley Area Links (SAL) Flexible Befriending Scheme covers Shipley, Bingley and surrounding areas, and matches people aged 50 and over with trained volunteers to provide company for those who don’t have family or friends nearby to visit them.

The new service, funded by Lloyds TSB, will help people who might not otherwise leave the house to attend social groups and activities by providing transport.

It is estimated about 30 per cent of people aged 50 or more in Bradford district live alone. Some of these people have no friends or family nearby to visit them and do not attend social activities. For some of the people SAL work with, their Befriender is their only social interaction.

The SAL service, funded by Big Lottery Community Fund, and run by HALE and SBVS, offers three variations on Befriending: visits whereby a volunteer will visit the older person in their own home once a week; a Walk and Talk service where a trained volunteer will accompany the older person on a short walk to help maintain mobility; and Telephone Befriending where a matched volunteer will ‘phone for a chat, provide ongoing support and be there as a listening ear.

The SAL team is calling for volunteers for all aspects of the befriending scheme, but particularly need volunteer drivers. Befriending training is provided, expenses are covered and volunteers receive on-going support from the SAL Befriending team. There are also regular get togethers and catch up meetings where volunteers can meet up with other befrienders for support.

Lesley Danson, Befriending co-ordinator at HALE, said: “ Volunteering can be a great way of ‘giving back’ to the community and we have found its really beneficial to both parties.”

Anyone interested in volunteering as a driver or in providing company for isolated people please contact Lesley Danson on (01274) 271088 or Joy Mills on (01274) 781222.

For more information on the SAL Befriending scheme please visit the HALE website haleproject.org.uk