TRIP launches search for befrienders

New project poised to combat isolation in Honiton.

A befriending service, unique in the Honiton area, is poised to be launched by TRIP Community Transport Association.

With extended premises in New Street now boasting meeting rooms, volunteer co-ordinator Carole Smyth is keen to recruit six to eight more volunteer befrienders before training begins.

TRIP feels people who may have been associated with the former Age Concern Centre, in King Street, and WRVS volunteers could be among those willing to support the initiative.

“The training is not onerous and we are looking for people who are willing to befriend people on a one-to-one basis,” said TRIP’s manager, Neil Hurlock.

“We are looking for people with time and a willingness to befriend people for short periods.

“The idea is to get people out of their enclosed environment and back involved with previous interests and even new ones.”

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TRIP envisages befrienders accompanying people on shopping trips and outings.

“Some people haven’t left the house for years,” said Mr Hurlock. “Befrienders won’t be expected to change lightbulbs or provide help around the house - just a friendly ear and an arm to lean on when people go out.

“It is all about combating isolation, which is a problem we are seeing more and more of.”

Carole said: “We are not looking for carers, just helping hands; people who are prepared to provide extra support so people can get out and meet others.”

Training will be “more of an introduction”, she explained, saying she would like to hear from potential volunteers as soon as possible. “We are going to keep the training as straightforward as possible - so we can help as many people as possible.”

A regular coffee morning could be established and the final phase of the befriending project could see the launch of a lunch club.

If you would like to be involved in the befriending project, call Carole on 078665199 or the TRIP office on (01404) 46529.