Honiton transport charity launches urgent appeal for new befrienders

TRIP's logo. Ref mhh 03-16TI 9641. Picture: Terry Ife

TRIP's logo. Ref mhh 03-16TI 9641. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A Honiton transport charity is calling on the support of the community to help relieve the strain on its volunteer visiting service.

ACORNS Befriending is run by volunteer coordinator Carol Smythe and a band of around 15 volunteers – but there is still more demand than the scheme is able to meet.

Neil Hurlock, manager of TRIP, says the befriending scheme has a backlog of around 15 people, who are waiting to be paired with suitable volunteer visitors.

“In an ideal world, these are 15 people too many,” he said. “Everyone should have the chance to get some companionship.

“But due to the pressures of modern society, they are stuck at home, isolated and alone.

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“It would be fantastic if we could break that isolation by welcoming more volunteers on board.”

Mr Hurlock revealed that Carol is set to stand down as coordinator later this year, and hopes TRIP can secure funding to enable the charity to employ a part-time administrator/coordinator to help deal with the pressures the scheme is facing.

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He added: “To become a volunteer, people need to be good listeners and prepared to take time and make the effort to help break down the sometimes self-imposed barriers that isolate some people from society.

“Having a befriender visit people can make the difference from turning an existence into a life once again.

“Often, that little bit of companionship is all that it takes to give someone the confidence to go back out into society, with all the associated benefits to their physical and mental health.”

The ACORNS service provides companionship and support for people in Honiton and East Devon and is offered free to the frail, isolated, lonely, housebound, bereaved and those with limited social contact.

As part of the befriending service volunteers visit people once a week for a friendly chat or take people to local groups and activities, or help them to continue or start a new hobby.

For more information, or to volunteer, get in touch with TRIP on 01404 46529 or pop into its New Street offices.

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