Befriending service in need of volunteers

Community seniors worker Debbie Wood, centre, serves afternoon tea D14301499a
Community seniors worker Debbie Wood, centre, serves afternoon tea D14301499a

VOLUNTEERS are being sought ahead of the launch of a new scheme targeting loneliness and social isolation.

Upper Beeding Baptist Church is hosting the befriending service, which will offer home visits as well as social events.

An afternoon high tea was held at the church, in Church Lane, on Friday, to bring together potential volunteers and service users.

Entertainment was provided by the Bjerkreim Gospel Youth Choir, which is on tour from Norway.

Community seniors worker Debbie Wood, who is co-ordinating the new service, said: “The event was a great success. The 45-piece choir went down a treat, as did the fabulous selection of sandwiches, cakes and pastries.

“Forty older people attended the event and all went away having had an amazing afternoon high tea.”

She is preparing for the launch of the Link Visiting Scheme on Thursday, September 11, at an event from 7pm to 8.30pm.

She said: “We would love to have a number of volunteer visitors trained and ready to be matched with lonely and isolated older people in the communities of Upper Beeding, Bramber and Steyning prior to that date.”

She is looking for people who can spare an hour or two once a week for home visits.

“The contact is often a lifeline to those receiving visits. Social events and other clubs will also be developed.”

The high tea was the first of these events.

Debbie said: “I have been tasked with developing activities as a faith-based response to reducing social isolation and loneliness.

“At the moment, we will have volunteers who will go and visit people in their homes for a chat.

“Other things will follow on from that, for example afternoon teas like the one we had on Friday and friendship lunches.

“As we start to understand what the needs are and speak to people more, we might develop things like computer courses or training in how to use a mobile phone.”

Debbie, who was taken on in March to set up the service, said it would be aimed at people aged 50-plus who are isolated, either living independently, in care homes or in supported living accommodation.