Ending Loneliness: Unprecedented demand for volunteer befrienders in the district

Volunteer driver Steve Smith
Volunteer driver Steve Smith

As the Harrogate Advertiser's Ending Loneliness campaign approaches Christmas, the Ripon and Rural Wellbeing and Voluntary Car Driving Services have contacted us to share that they are experiencing an unprecedented demand to support older people.

The services aim to help older people remain connected with their communities through the support of volunteers.

Volunteer car drivers with the Ripon and Rural Voluntary Car Driving Service provide door-to-door transport to those limited by mobility or location to get to appointments, make essential trips and attend community events

Currently the team of 35 volunteer drivers offer over 2,000 trips each year to passengers who may otherwise struggle to make journeys independently.

Volunteer driver Steve Smith, takes passengers every week to Saint Michael’s Hospice and Ripon Walled Garden, and believes that the social contact is beneficial to passengers and volunteers.

He said: “I get to meet some fantastic people. On our regular runs we catch up on the latest TV and have a chat.”

Where older people are unable to get out and about, or would like support within the home, volunteer befrienders with the Rural and Wellbeing service pay a regular visit.

One client said: “When my volunteer visits, I feel like I have a friend who would help me.”

All of the services are experiencing unprecedented demand, which the project attributes to the ageing population and rising number of people living without a network of family or neighbours to support them.

The service is currently looking for volunteer drivers and befrienders in Ripon, Masham, Pateley Bridge and the surrounding areas. Readers interested in finding out can contact Julie Proudler, Service Co-ordinator on: 01765 645902 or email: rrwb@harcvs.org.uk