Cirencester befriending group Churn Good Neighbours appeals for more volunteers as waiting list grows
SOMETIMES all it takes is a cup of tea, a friendly chat and a warm smile to stop an elderly person from feeling alone.
But with the numbers of those feeling isolated on the rise, especially in the Cotswolds, one organisation is calling on kind-hearted people to help fill the void in a lonely person’s world.
“We just need more volunteers. We have always got a lot of older people waiting,” said Ro Lyon, manager of Churn Good Neighbours, a free befriending service in Cirencester.
“Just when I think the list is starting to go down, we will get a wave of new people coming forward looking for a friend.”
The scheme, which was introduced six years ago, puts people in later life and on their own in touch with a weekly visitor who can offer companionship for an hour or two.
Since its inception, Churn Good Neighbours has organised more than 8,000 visits to lonely people across Cirencester and has recently expanded further across the district.
“We now cover more than 25 villages in the Cotswolds but there are still a lot of people out there waiting for a friend,” said Ro.
“Having a friend come and visit can increase a person’s confidence, wellbeing and resilience so that they are able to deal with the situation they are in.”
Ros, a volunteer with Churn Good Neighbours, has been visiting her 90-year-old friend Muriel once a week for more than two years.
“I love my volunteer role. It is just so worthwhile, I go home at the end of the day and I am smiling,” said Ros.
“I have always loved listening to older people talk about their lives. Muriel could write a book, she has lived an amazing life.”
As part of the appeal, Ro is keen to see more male volunteers step forward to help out the men in the Cotswolds who are living alone.
“We have more and more men on our waiting lists now. There must be some younger retired men out there looking to fill their time,” she said.
Ro said that it can often be hard for people, especially men, to admit that they are feeling alone and would like some company.
However, she said that joining a programme such as Churn Good Neighbours has endless rewards for both the visitors and the people being visited.
“It’s all about the conversation really, a lot can be achieved by both parties through a simple conversation,” she said.
Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer with Churn Good Neighbours should contact Ro Lyon on 01285 642566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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