New befriending coordinator takes charge in Honiton - and outlines plans to take scheme forward

Janine and Neil at the TRIP offices in Honiton. Picture: Callum Lawton

Janine and Neil at the TRIP offices in Honiton. Picture: Callum Lawton - Credit: Archant

A new co-ordinator has taken the helm at a Honiton community transport charity’s befriending service.

Janine Stedman has taken over the role at TRIP Befriending from Carole Smyth, who ran the scheme voluntarily since its inception in 2009.

Janine had been employed following a fundraising drive by TRIP, which raised £11,000.

This money will keep her in post for at least 12 months, and the charity has confirmed plans to continue fundraising to ensure she remains employed for years to come.

Neil Hurlock, manager for TRIP, said: “We are very pleased to be able to welcome Janine on board, and we really appreciate the enormous amount of work Carole has carried out over the years since the scheme was launched.

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“We are extremely glad that Carole is remaining as a befriender to continue the work she has done in helping to break people’s isolation.”

TRIP’s befriending service was originally launched as ACORNS.

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As part of the scheme, teams of volunteers visit people isolated in their homes for a chat, and help them become more active socially.

Despite having a limited number of befrienders, the scheme reached hundreds of isolated people throughout the years. Neil added: “This scheme can make a vital difference to the quality of life of the people who take advantage of the service.

“It means these people know they will have someone coming to see them on a regular basis. Sometimes, the befriender is the only person they do see that week.

“This is a scheme which sees friendships formed and combats loneliness.”

Janine, who has worked in the education and social care sector for almost 40 years, said: “It’s been a great start and I have had a very warm welcome. Now, I will aim to continue the excellent work of Carole.

“I want to take the scheme forward and expand the project, by taking it out into rural areas and networking more widely.

“We are going to be running events and working closely qirh groups, such as Honiton Dementia Action Alliance.

“My mother lived with vascular dementia and passed away recently. At one point, I was her key carer and I was inspired by her courage.”

To become a voluntary befriender, call Janine on 07841 525646.

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