Sheffield charity urgently seeks volunteers to befriend lonely older people

A growing list of isolated older people desperate for a chat on the phone has prompted a leading Sheffield charity to launch an urgent volunteer appeal.

Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care (SCCCC) has a waiting list of almost 100 older people waiting for telephone support but needs more volunteers to spare up to an hour a week to give them the friendship and belonging they crave.

The charity says the city’s loneliness epidemic will only get worse as long, cold weeks of lockdown lie ahead for thousands of over-65s, many of whom have no friends or family they can call upon for support.

Tammy Wilson, Good Neighbour Scheme Team Leader, said: “The good news is that word is getting out about the support we can offer the thousands of people across the city for whom television is sadly their only friend.

A simple regular phone chat can help people feeling lonely and isolated

“Unfortunately, this means that we desperately need more people to come forward to support our work, with a regular weekly or fortnightly telephone call often all that our service users are looking for.

“The urgency is even greater now that a fresh lockdown has been imposed, with older people cut off once more from the outside world.

“Even just giving an hour of your time up to once a week could make a massive difference to the life of an older person in your community.”

SCCCC is casting its net wide in a bid to attract new volunteers to support its loneliness-busting work and anyone in South Yorkshire is eligible to help out.

Most of its referrals come from healthcare professionals, although occasionally family members or the older people themselves will request support.

The charity hopes that telephone calls may become friendly visits in the future, once the current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

A full induction and DBS checks will be carried out to ensure all volunteers are suitable to support SCCCC's older service users.

SCCCC was set up more than 50 years ago to support the over-65s in Sheffield.

It works alongside Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and other care agencies to achieve its mission of improving wellbeing, and reducing isolation and loneliness in the city’s older community.

To find out more or to volunteer, contact Sharon Saunders at [email protected] or phone 0114 2505292.

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