MORE people are needed to help befriend older or injured Cotswold residents who may be living isolated lives in rural villages. The appeal has been made by Cotswold Friends, which helps provide weekly befriending services to 274 Cotswold residents, along with charities Churn Good Neighbours and People for You. The service was set up after the three charities joined forces in 2013 and successfully applied for five years of funding from the Big Lottery. The charities say an evaluation of clients who joined the scheme last year showed people felt less lonely and isolated because they had a regular visitor and all of those accessing the befriending service said they would recommend the service to others.
An evaluation of the service’s 262 volunteers also revealed they too felt they benefited from the visits. One volunteer said: “My client and I go out for coffee once a week, followed by a small supermarket shop. “He says he really enjoys our trip, which is good. “What I am really amazed about is that I really look forward to it too.” Amanda Howard, CEO of Cotswold Friends, said: “There is such a need for more volunteers to join the befriending services in the Cotswolds. “We live in a beautiful area of the country but many villages are isolated and local services are limited. “A regular visitor can make such a difference to someone who lives alone, can no longer drive or use public transport, and has no family to visit them. “If you can spare a little time and enjoy the company of others please do consider becoming a befriending volunteer. “You will be offered training and support and travel expenses can be paid.” More information about becoming a befriending volunteer is available. For the north Cotswolds, contact Sheryl Murray by emailing Sheryl@cotswoldfriends.org or calling 01608 697007. For Cirencester and villages, contact Ro Lyon by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by calling 01285 380030. For Tetbury, Fairford and Lechlade and villages, contact Sue Black by emailing email@example.com or calling 07810 630167.