The charity has run a successful Befriending Service – where volunteers have been matched with older people based in North Tyneside for the last 20 years, but because of lockdown and people’s need to self-isolate they had to adapt their service to socially-distance.
The telephone service has been so popular that the charity looking to develop this even further and has appointed a new Telephone Befriending Co-ordinator to run it, who starts in mid-September.
Head of Charity Services, Yvonne Probert, said: “Loneliness can affect people in very different ways and even if an older person has family and friends, they may still have times when they may feel lonely or are in need of friendship.
“Our befriending services offer older people a chance to share their stories, make a new friend and connect with someone outside their usual social circle.
“It is fantastic that we have many more people coming on board to receive support from Age UK North Tyneside, but we are always on the lookout for more people to work with – both as befrienders and befriendees.
“Looking forward, we will be rolling out more virtual and telephone support, especially as social distancing restrictions are the new norm.”
Although lockdown restrictions have been relaxed, many older people are still receiving their Befriending support over the phone as they continue to self-isolate.
Moving forward, Befriending customers – who are matched with a volunteer by the charity based on their needs and interests – will be able to choose if they receive the service over the phone, or face-to-face.
Customer Tom Bailey, 91, received regular phone calls from volunteer Befriender Lynsey Finlayson for five months before he was able to meet her face-to-face again.
He said having someone to talk to has helped him get through lockdown, and helps him take his mind off any worries he has.
The great-grandfather said: “Lynsey is a such a lovely young lady and I love when she comes to see me. It takes my mind off any troubles that I have and puts me at ease.
“It’s so important to be able to look forward to something and that is what Lynsey brings me. Even when we were speaking over the phone and not seeing each other I always looked forward to her call.”
If you are interested in becoming a Befriender, or feel you or a family member could benefit from being a Befriendee, contact Age UK North Tyneside on 0191 280 8484.