AN URGENT appeal has been launched for volunteers for Age UK Bromsgrove, Redditch and Wyre Forest’s (BRWF) befriending service.
The plea was made after a woman came into the Standard’s office who was due to be alone this Christmas for an advert to appeal in for some kindness.
We contacted Age UK which, as well as contacting her, also told us about the desperate need for people for the befriending service.
Jo Hughes, spokesperson for Age UK BRWF said: “Members of The Standard team experienced first-hand the impact loneliness is having on members of our community when an older person came into our Redditch office enquiring about placing an advert in the paper just so that they could have someone to talk to.”
Described as a ‘lifeline’ by its users, Age UK BRWF’s Befriending service is based on friendship, with volunteers regularly visiting a person in their home and/ or calling them for a chat, helping people maintain those all-important social connections.
‘Service is a lifeline’
The service, which is free and not time-limited, regularly supports over 300 older people across North Worcestershire however, due to rising demand and a need for more volunteers – particularly in Redditch – there is currently a waiting list of people seeking support.
Jo added: “Loneliness is considered by many to be one of the largest public health challenges we face.
“It can affect anyone but, as we get older, factors including health issues, reduced mobility, caring for a partner, bereavement, living alone and living on a low fixed income, increase our risk of loneliness.”
Research by the national Age UK team earlier this year highlighted 1.4million older people in the UK are often lonely.
Jo said: “It is often said one of the most valuable things that you can give its your time.
“If you can give an hour or so of your time a week to visit or call a local person, please visit the Age UK BRWF website.”
Visit ageuk.org.uk/brwf/get-involved/volunteer/befriending-volunteer/ or call the team on 01527 570490 to find out more about becoming a Befriending Volunteer.
The charity also wants to encourage everyone to #TakeACoupleOfMinutes to check in on older relatives, friends and family members to make sure that they are doing okay – those couple of minutes could have a huge impact.