Fond farewell to popular Honiton befriender Carole as she steps down after seven years

Carole Smyth, picture left centre with Janine Steadman, has stepped down from her role after seven y

Carole Smyth, picture left centre with Janine Steadman, has stepped down from her role after seven years. Picture: Callum Lawton - Credit: Archant

A woman who has co-ordinated an important befriending service in Honiton for the last seven years has officially stepped down from the role.

Carole Smyth was congratulated for all of her hard work at a small gathering of friends and work colleagues, held in transport charity TRIP’s offices, last week.

Mrs Smyth ran TRIP’s ACORNS befriending scheme, which would see a team of volunteers visit lonely and isolated people to give them someone to talk to, and keep their spirits up.

Despite having a limited number of befrienders, the scheme reached hundreds of isolated people in its operation.

Janine Steadman has since taken up the role at the rebranded TRIP Befriending, following a fundraising drive by the charity, which raised £11,000.

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Mrs Smyth, who is staying on as a befriender, said: “I have lots of very good memories and I am still enjoying visiting people.

“I am still getting my hugs that I previously had!

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“It is wonderful to walk on the high street and meet so many people out and about that may not have been had they not had a befriender.”

Mrs Smyth said the befriending service is ‘100 per cent important’ because it gave people the opportunity to talk candidly to people who weren’t their family.

She added: “They can talk through the death of a relative to someone who is not a family member.

“This means they do not have to worry that they might upset someone.”

Neil Hurlock, office manager of TRIP, said Mrs Smyth has been a vital component of the charity since ACORNS’ inception in 2009.

He said: “If it was not for Carole, the service would not still be running, as she carried so much of the weight of it for all of these years.

“She has created a model for us to move it forward.”

ACORNS was well-used in Honiton and across Devon, with demand strong for befrienders.

In March 2018, Mr Hurlock revealed the service was facing a backlog of 15 people.

Speaking then, he said: ““In an ideal world, these are 15 people too many.

“Everyone should have the chance to get some companionship.”

For more information about TRIP Befriending, and to offer your services, call the TRIP offices on 01404 46529 or pop into its New Street offices.

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